A terrific article by Kenan Malik on Channel 4’s contemptible decision to throw Maajid Nawaz under the bus by siding with the “offended” brigade.
‘Thank you @Channel4News you just pushed us liberal Muslims further into a ditch’. So tweeted Maajid Nawaz, prospective Liberal Democratic parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn, last night. He had every right to be incandescent. Channel 4 News had just held a debate about theJesus and Mo cartoons and about the campaign to deselect Nawaz for tweeting one of the cartoons, not finding them offensive. Channel 4 decided that they were offensive and could not be shown. It would have been bad enough had the channel decided simply not to show the cartoon. What it did was worse. It showed the cartoon – but blanked out Muhammad’s face (and only Muhammad’s face). In the context of a debate about whether Nawaz had been right to tweet the cartoon in the first place, or whether his critics were right to hound him for ‘offending’ Muslims, it was an extraordinary decision. The broadcaster had effectively taken sides in the debate – and taken the side of the reactionaries against the liberal.
Preeeeeeecisely. Nawaz invites his fellow Muslims to act like adults and Channel 4 says No, no, no, act like bad-tempered babies!
There is something truly bizarre (and yet in keeping with the zeitgeist of our age) that someone should become the focus of death threats and an international campaign of vilification for suggesting that an inoffensive cartoon was, well, inoffensive.
It’s a bizarre zeitgeist. Somebody should name a band that.
I want to annotate every word, but I’m out of time, so I’ll point out one more important observation:
the giving of offence is not just inevitable, it is also important. Any kind of social change or social progress means offending some deeply held sensibilities. Or to put it another way: ‘You can’t say that!’ is all too often the response of those in power to having their power challenged. To accept that certain things cannot be said is to accept that certain forms of power cannot be challenged.
‘Swhat I keep saying. Lots of people are “offended” by demands that women be treated as equals. Lots of people are “offended” by the claim that LGBT people should not be persecuted. Lots of people are “offended” by suggestions that the goal of a decent society should not be the largest possible gap between the poor and the rich.