Yesterday, the BBC published an article about a woman in India, Harvinder Chowdhury, who wants the Indian government to ban jokes which make fun of Sikhs. Apparently, such jokes have become a bit of a cottage industry in the mostly Hindu country now, with Sikhs regularly depicted in the same way the Irishman is depicted in English jokes: i.e. as "unintelligent, stupid, idiot, foolish naive, inept, not well versed with English language and as symbols of stupidity and foolishness".
I do not think such jokes should be banned. They are part of living in a free society, and I believe Harvinder Chowdhury should just ignore them if she doesn't like them. But what is notable is the flippancy with which the BBC covers the subject, referring to the jokes at one point as just "harmless fun", and even publishing at least seven or eight of them directly within the article so that we can see what all the fuss is about.
Now, doesn't it strike you as contradictory that they behave this way with jokes about Sikhs, but that they have never illustrated an article about cartoons of Muhammad by publishing the cartoons themselves for us all to see? Indeed, the Beeb once devoted a lengthy article to simply explaining what each of the 2005 Jyllands-Posten cartoons looked like, without actually showing any of them, and referred to them variously as "supposedly humorous", "deliberately provocative" and "controversial".
Why the difference in approach? An answer has just been sent in to me here at Eye On Islam by my former BBC correspondent who calls himself "Charlie" from Paris, France.
For that matter, put aside the cartoons for a moment. Does anyone seriously think that if this article had been about anti-Muslim jokes, instead of anti-Sikh ones, that the BBC would have been so casual about it, and would have even published a laundry list of examples for Muslims to get all riled over all over again?
Most people, whatever their stance on Islam, know the answer to that question, but not everyone is apparently willing to consider its implications: namely, that terrorism apparently works, and that if one group of people bullies and threatens, and engages in violent, fascist thuggery, we will cave into the thuggery, and do whatever the bullies want us to do.