Liberals love to lampoon the Prophet Muhammad, but hands off Serena Williams

Robert Bridge
Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. Former Editor-in-Chief of The Moscow News, he is author of the book, 'Midnight in the American Empire,' released in 2013.
Liberals love to lampoon the Prophet Muhammad, but hands off Serena Williams
The US Open showdown between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka was a case study – both on court and off – of political correctness gone wild, with charges of sexism and racism flying faster than tennis balls.

Perhaps for Serena Williams, 36, it was the painful realization that her long reign over woman’s tennis – a record 23 Grand Slam victories over the course of a dazzling and very lucrative career – was being quickly eclipsed by a 20-year-old usurper named Naomi Osaka. Or perhaps she just let the heat of the moment get the best of her. Whatever the case may be, the American tennis star provided no shortage of blistering action, much of which, unfortunately, occurred off the court.

Before we discuss those off-court antics and others, it’s important to understand what exactly transpired at the US Open final.

Although many expected the American to manhandle (excuse me, person-handle) the young Osaka, who was just a babe in diapers when William’s career was in its ascendancy, the Japanese stormed to an early lead and then essentially let Williams beat herself.

After being penalized for calling chair umpire Carlos Ramos a “thief,” Williams summoned up the evil spirits of political correctness to plead her case. She was heard telling officials that many male tennis players have done “much worse” without any sort of retribution. In other words, Ramos was a cave-dwelling “sexist” put on earth to thwart the progress of womanhood.

During her post-game interview, Serena told a news conference, “I’m here, fighting for women’s rights, for women’s equality, and for all kind of stuff… it made me think that it was a sexist remark [referring to the penalty Ramos awarded her].

There were faint echoes of Oprah Winfrey’s famous speech at the Golden Globes in that it was the right message delivered at exactly the wrong time and place.  

So now, America’s dethroned tennis queen, playing the gender card game instead of tennis, is acting spokesperson for downtrodden women everywhere. Yet certainly Williams has heard of John McEnroe, the former American tennis star whose on-court temper tantrums are now legendary. In 1990, for example, this loudmouthed male was tossed out of the Australian Open – not just penalized – for verbally abusing the chair umpire, much like Williams did.

Since it may come off as chauvinistic for me – a burly male – to criticize Serena, perhaps it would be more appropriate to quote Martina Navratilova, 61, one of the greatest female tennis players of all time.

“I don’t believe it’s a good idea to apply a standard of ‘If men can get away with it, women should be able to, too,’ Navratilova wrote in a New York Times op-ed regarding Williams’ epic meltdown. “Rather, I think the question we have to ask ourselves is this: What is the right way to behave to honor our sport and to respect our opponents?”

The Czech-born American went on to comment that “we cannot measure ourselves by what we think we should also be able to get away with… this is the sort of behavior that no one should be engaging in on the court.”

Eureka! Navratilova – who hails from a bygone era when the vision of political correctness, ‘virtue signaling’ and ‘social justice warriors’ was just a flash in the pan – nailed it. Instead of looking to some external other to explain our life circumstances – like losing a tennis match, for example, or a presidential election (wink, wink) – people should look to themselves as the agents for proactive and positive change. Such a message, however, would quickly sink the Liberal ship, which is predicated upon the idea that the world is forever divided between oppressor and oppressed. What the Liberals fail to appreciate, however, is that they are becoming the real oppressors as they continue to sideline anybody who does not think and act exactly as they do.

Following Serena’s epic meltdown, the Melbourne-based Herald Sun published a cartoon by Mark Knight that shows the American tennis star as she proceeds to stomp on her racket, mouth open and hair going straight up. It was not a flattering or subtle drawing, but given the circumstances, that should probably come as no surprise.  

The Liberal outrage came fast and heavy as critics slammed the caricature as racist and offensive. It would take hundreds of pages to recite them all, but as one example, CNN columnist Rebecca Wanzo labeled the cartoon as an example of – wait for it – “visual imperialism,” which is manifest by “a black grotesque seeming natural.”

Never mind that the behavior of Serena Williams was “grotesque,” which is what inspired Knight’s unflattering drawing of her in the first place. That is what is meant by a ‘caricature’, where the artist attempts to convey the essence of an event through imagery. Yes, sometimes brutal imagery.

But now it looks like even cartoons have become too risky. In our brave new world of total intolerance, PC thought police dutifully plumb the depths of our minds to determine the real messages behind our artistic impressions, even if they come in the form of a cartoon. The cruel irony of the criticism, however, should not have been lost on the Inquisition, but apparently it was; humor is not the Left’s best quality.

Observers were quick to notice a glaring double standard at play.

Many Liberals defended the right for the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo to publish caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, an act that is considered blasphemous to Muslims. Nevertheless, their main argument is that artists should have free license over their work and not be censured by anybody, not least of all a religion that boasts over 1 billion adherents worldwide.

Here is the Left’s brilliant logic: It’s totally fine to mock Muhammad, but not so okay to mock the lamentable on-court behavior of a single tennis star at the US Open. And people are wondering why voters are fleeing the Democratic camp in droves. Liberals somehow believe they are open-minded and progressive about everything, but the reality is that their level of tolerance doesn’t rise any higher than their personal belief system, which quite frankly is wallowing in the proverbial toilet. Anything that challenges that worldview is shouted down and condemned to the point where college campuses are now being torched. It is a great paradox, but in reality these so-called ‘progressives’ are conservatives of the very worst kind. ‘Hypocrites’ would be a better word.

Thankfully, however, the Herald Sun is not taking the abuse sitting down. In fact, they’ve just released an issue with a front page depicting the many individuals, representative of many races, which have fallen to Mark Knight’s savage wit over the years, and, it must be emphasized, without any undue incident.

It’s vital to see some pushback against this wave of intolerance, otherwise it will not just be cartoons that go missing from the public square. It will soon spell the end of our basic freedom of expression and democratic institutions as we know them.

After all, there are times when it seems that only humor – some of it by necessity dark humor – is all that will get us through this nightmare of intolerance that has settled upon the democratic landscape.

@Robert_Bridge

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