Whose side are they on?

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Richard Fernandez of the Belmont Club blog reminds us that New York Times Editor Bill Keller, who approved publication of NSA surveillance secrets last December and Swift bank secrets this month, does set some limits about what he will publish.

He refused, for example, to publish the Danish cartoons of Muhammad about which Islamofascists stirred up riots in various parts of the world. In response to a USA Today reporter who asked whether his paper would print the cartoons:

New York Times editor Bill Keller said that he and his staff concluded after a "long and vigorous debate" that publishing the cartoon would be "perceived as a particularly deliberate insult" by Muslims. "Like any decision to withhold elements of a story, this was neither easy nor entirely satisfying, but it feels like the right thing to do."

So that's the standard. Disclosing classified programs that help protect us against terrorists is just dandy. But publishing cartoons that would be "perceived as a particularly deliberate insult" by Muslims is beyond the pale. Coddling tender sensitivities is more important than protecting national security.

Of course, there's another way to look at this. The New York Times is, evidently, not afraid that the government or its supporters—not even rabid talk radio listeners or right-wing blog readers—would wreak violence on 229 W. 43rd Street. But aggrieved Muslims—more accurately, Muslims purporting to be aggrieved—might. It's nice that Keller feels a responsibility to protect his staff. It's too bad he doesn't feel a similar responsibility to protect his fellow citizens after they've had the effrontery to re-elect George W. Bush.