At NRO, Ian Tuttle observes that it has become conventional to refer to “the Prophet Mohammed.” Tuttle asks why.
I myself am careful not to refer to Muhammad (spelled however) as “the Prophet.” Fine if he’s yours, and no offense intended, but he’s not mine.
Tuttle observes with considerable understatement: “There seems to be an implicit, unique measure of respect accorded to the religious leader of Islam that is passé when it comes to the carpenter from Nazareth.” Not to mention Moses or Isaiah or Elijah and all the rest.
Tuttle concedes that “this is not necessarily sinister.” Not necessarily, but probably. It is probably self-enforced dhimmitude, that is (to borrow Tuttle’s formulation).
Consider, for example, White House flack Jay Carney speaking on behalf of the Obama administration in September 2012: “We are aware that a French magazine published cartoons featuring a figure resembling the Prophet Muhammad and obviously, we have questions about the judgment of publishing something like this.”
Or consider any New York Times story referring to Muhammad. The convention seems to have become part of the stylebook, as in the lead paragraph of this story by Doreen Carvajal and Suzanne Daley on Charlie Hebdo: “In 2012, when Charlie Hebdo editors defied the government’s advice and published crude caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad naked and in sexual poses, the French authorities shut down embassies, cultural centers and schools in about 20 countries.”
Or in this Times Opinionator column on the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo by Yale Professor Jason Stanley: “The assassins apparently thought of themselves as avenging satirical representations of the Prophet Muhammad, published in the legendary newspaper.” And again, a bit further down in the column: “[A]s the staff of Charlie Hebdo was aware, there surely is a difference, in France, between mocking the pope and mocking the Prophet Muhammad.”
Professor Stanley is adamant about this Prophet business: “The Prophet Muhammad is the revered figure of an oppressed minority. To mock the pope is to thumb one’s nose at a genuine authority, an authority of the majority. To mock the Prophet Muhammad is to add insult to abuse.”
I think that’s just about case closed.
NOTE: In my heading I borrow from NRO’s heading for Tuttle’s column on the homepage.
JOHN adds: Likewise with the “Holy Koran (or Quran)”, which you often see, even though no news outlet has referred to the “Holy Bible” for a generation or two.
PAUL adds: The rot has spread to Fox News. On Wednesday’s “Special Report” panel, Bret Baier and Juan Williams both referred to Muhammad as “Prophet Muhammad.” Charles Krauthammer and Steve Hayes did not.