I admire Prof. Aslan's courage, but his choice of the word "idiotic" is not the one I would use. It was not idiocy that prompted Yale's ban on the cartoons, let alone on all other depictions of Muhammad; it was cowardice. It was a lack of commitment to the very liberal ideals for which the Western university is supposed to stand.
If Western liberal civilization endures, it will be despite the modern university, not because of it.
The director of Yale University Press, John Donatich, has admitted that the reason for forbidding any depictions of Muhammad to appear in the book was fear. "You can count on violence if any illustration of the prophet is published. It will cause riots, I predict, from Indonesia to Nigeria."
That quote magnificently summarizes so much of what is wrong with the modern liberal university.
First, one should always note the use of the term "the prophet" when non-Muslims mention Muhammad. Do non-believing Christians or non-Christians regularly -- or ever -- refer to Jesus as "the Messiah" or "the Lord," as believing Christians do? Of course not. Do non-Jews or non-believing Jews refer to Moses as the "Teacher Moses," as believing Jews do ("Moshe Rabbeinu")? Of course not. But their desire to appease Muslims and their political correctness demand calling Muhammad "the prophet."
And second, since when do Westerners living in freedom compromise their own freedom of speech out of fear that they will anger those who wish to destroy that very freedom?
Jytte Klausen made a grave mistake in continuing to allow Yale to publish her book. Whatever her misgivings about the university's cowardice, she is a now a full accomplice. How can those who love liberty and the idea of the university purchase this book as it now stands?
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”