It is apt that the inspiration for a term to describe what we're doing to ourselves should come from communist East Germany. The expression they used for second-guessing what their masters would order was pre-emptive obedience. Perhaps we should call it pre-emptive submission, and it may well come to that, but for the moment let's stick with pre-emptive censorship.
I have collected a few recent examples of Western pusillanimity.
Submission (January, 2005) - Rotterdam Film Festival cancelled the screening of Theo van Gogh and Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Submission out of fear of violence. The film’s production company, Column Pictures, withdrew the film from circulation and will not allow it to be officially shown. Since van Gogh's murder by Mohammed Bouyeri, it has been shown only twice, by DR in Denmark, November 11, 2004 and by RAI in Italy, May 12 2005.
Tamburlaine the Great at the Barbican (summer, 2005)- The removal of a scene in which the Koran is burned
The BBC, UK (September, 2005) - The BBC cancels a dramatization of John Buchan’s novel Greenmantle because it is about Muslim extremists in the First World War, and contained “unsuitable and insensitive material.”
Tate Britain, UK (September, 2005) - The gallery withdraws an installation called God Is Great, which consists of a large sheet of glass and copies of the Koran, the Bible and Judaism's Talmud that have been cut apart for fear of offending Muslim sensibilities after the July 7 bombings. The artist claims, "It shows that all religious teaching comes from the same source", which must come as a surprise to Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, etc.
Prison Service, UK (September, 2005) - The Chief Inspector of Prisons tells prison staff to stop wearing Cross of St George tiepins because they could be "misinterpreted'' as a racist symbol.
Carnival in Germany (2006) - Cologne ruled out any jokes about Islam or Muslims, though it was all right to caricature Cologne's Cardinal Meisner as an inquisitor who burns women at the stake
Spain - The Festivals of the Moors and the Christians - Censorship or cancellation of the festivals that have been held for 400 years. However, one that deals with the old Blood Libel of the Jews remains intact, despite protests.
South Park - (April, 2006) - An episode called Cartoon Wars Part 2 had a sequence showing Mohammed cut at the insistence of the cable broadcasters Comedy Central
Utrecht University - (Summer, 2006) - Professor Piet van der Horst has his retirement lecture censored by the university’s dean. In tracing a history of the the myth of Jewish cannibalism, Prof. van der Horst had intended bringing the story up to date by describing the adoption of that myth by Islamic regimes across the Middle East. He was told his lecture would create an immediate security risk.
Twenty Three Years, a biography critical of Mohammad by the late Iranian author Ali Dashti - British publisher cancelled plans to publish it in September
The Sheikh's New Clothes: The Naked Truth about Islamic Suicide Terrorism by Nancy Kobrin (Autumn, 2006) - The publisher cancelled the release of this book about the psychology of fundamentalist Islamic terrorists
Idomeneo by WA Mozart - Berlin's Deutsche Oper cancelled a production slated for this November because of the scene in which King Idomeneo places the four severed heads of Poseidon, Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed on chairs.
Whitechapel Art Gallery (October, 2006) - The gallery removed works by surrealist artist Hans Bellmer from an exhibition the day before it was due to open so as "to not shock the population of the Whitechapel neighbourhood, which is partly Muslim".
British Airways (October, 2006) - The company forbids a member of staff to wear a sixpence-sized crucifix visibly despite allowing Muslims to wear a headscarf and Sikhs to wear a turban. Presumably, the crucifix would offend Hindus. No, Buddhists. No, it must be Zoroastrians.
Scholastic Australia (November, 2006) The publisher pulls John Dale's Army of the Pure before publication because the baddies are two Islamic terrorists.
Mayor of Chicago (December, 2006) The Mayor's Office does not allow the annual Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza to show clips from "The Nativity Story," a movie that depicts the biblical story of Mary, Joseph and the birth of Jesus because doing so would be "insensitive to the many people of different faiths."
Amsterdam (February, 2007) - "There is already a lot of self-censorship among the comedians, and theatres are cancelling bookings, Teeuwen says." ~
University of Cambridge (11 March, 2007) - "A Cambridge University student is at the centre of a race-hate probe after printing anti-Islamic material in a magazine. The 19-year-old, second-year student at Clare College was in hiding today after printing the 'racist' cartoon and other vile material. The article is said to be so inflammatory the undergraduate has been taken to a secret location for his own safety." [He had reprinted one of the Danish cartoons.]
Leeds University (16 March, 2007) - A lecture by Dr Matthias Kuntzel on 'Islamic anti-semitism' is cancelled after 'alleged protest emails' from Muslims .
Washington (April, 2007) Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center, a film on the silencing of moderate Muslims by Islamists and commissioned by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, is shelved by PBS for being "alarmist".
The Netherlands (August, 2007) - Bishop Tiny Muskens, Roman Catholic Bishop of Breda, proposes that people of all faiths refer to God as Allah "to foster understanding".
USA (August, 2007) - Newspapers refuse to publish 2 episodes of the "Opus" comic because they feature Islamic references and a sex joke.
Brussels, Belgium (September, 2007) - The Mayor of Brussels prohibits a demonstration against the Islamization of Europe, to be held next September 11 as he is worried it will upset the large immigrant population of Brussels.
Canada (September, 2007) - Elections Canada changes the law to allow people under the hijab to vote without showing their face. Muslims say they had never requested it and that is absurd.
BBC, UK (September, 2007) - "BBC bosses are ready to AXE a £1million episode of hit drama Spooks in which an al-Qaeda terrorist is shot dead — in case it upsets Muslims."