Paul Greenberg

Yale University long has been a citadel of political correctness and a prime example of the current academic rage for deconstructing truth. But this time it's reached the bottom (let's hope) of its flight from Lux et Veritas, Light and Truth. It's getting so that the only remaining evidence of either one at Yale may soon be confined to its motto.

This time Yale's university press was about to publish a scholarly volume that would provide some historical and artistic context for those controversial cartoons that Danish newspapers published in 2005 and early 2006, including caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, and that so enraged mobs throughout the Muslim world. Here, you would think, is just the sort of scholarly study that a university press ought to be publishing.

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But the same forces that long have held much of the Muslim East in thrall, enforcing the most radical of Islamic prohibitions, now are reaching out to dictate to the West, too. And they've found a willing accomplice in Yale University, which now has decided to publish the book without including the principal reason for it: the cartoons themselves. The decline of the West has seldom been so pronounced as in the vicinity of New Haven, Conn.

This book was going to offer some needed perspective by including other drawings of Mohammed from centuries past. But it's not just the Danish cartoons that now have been excised from the manuscript but all the others. Despite their historical relevance to the topic at hand.

Among the works that didn't make it into the book: a 19th-century print by Gustave Doré illustrating Dante's "Inferno," another from a children's book, and even an old Ottoman print. All of those, too, were considered too hot for Yale to handle.

The moral of this sad story, or at least one of them, is that those afraid to publish commentary on contemporary issues will soon enough be driven to suppress the past, too.

George Orwell knew how this worked. (See how history was constantly being rewritten in "1984" by the Winston Smiths at the Ministry of Truth.) In the late and unlamented Soviet Union, the same games were played with history. And in Germany's Third Reich, it was Josef Goebbels who decided what the masses would be allowed to see. Or not see.

Yale University's obeisance to the same gods -- Fear, Repression, Brute Force -- will only grow if such appeasement is not challenged by those of us who still believe in freedom of expression.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.