The Yale Purge - No More Images Of Mohammed
The Left is against the burning of books, right?
The story of Yale's purge of the Mohammed images in Prof. Jytte Klausen's book becomes more sordid with each new detail — which details continue emerging because Roger Kimball remains on the case.
Remember how the Times said Yale got a "unanimous" recommendation against publishing the images from a 24-member panel of experts (whose identities Yale refuses to reveal)? Indeed, not content with mere unanimity, John Donatich, the director of Yale University Press, insisted that the experts' recommendation to censor the images was “overwhelming and unanimous.” Well, it turns out that (a) the experts were not unanimous, and (b) the New York Times is aware of that fact but has yet to correct its story (which is dated August 12 but, I believe, first appeared in the paper's August 13 edition).
As reported in the Guardian, Sheila Blair, a professor of Islamic and Asian art at Norma Jean Calderwood University, has acknowledged being among the experts consulted by Yale, and she “strongly urged” YUP to publish the images in the book. What's more, she has written a letter to the Times, explaining her reasoning: “To deny that such images were made is to distort the historical record and to bow to the biased view of some modern zealots who would deny that others at other times and places perceived and illustrated Muhammad in different ways.”
The Times has not yet published this letter, which contradicts its story. And on that score, it's worth noting that the Times' account was dubious even before we knew about Prof. Blair. As Roger reiterates, the book was thoroughly vetted before Yale's consultation with the experts, it passed with flying colors, and at least two prominent Muslims enthusiastically supported its publication with the images. Those facts are not in the Times report (though the paper does explain that religion scholar and bestselling author, Reza Aslan, withdrew the favorable blurb he had contributed once Yale decided censorship was the way to go). It's not clear whether the Times knew the whole story and suppressed it, or failed to ask basic question in preparing its report.
Roger has Prof. Blair's letter, but she has declined to give him permission to publish it (his latest post includes only the portion that appeared in the Guardian article).