I’m just going to repost something I wrote elsewhere about the cartoons issue. It’s a bit less careful than I’d like it to be, but I’ll put it up anyway.
What’s amazing to me about this is that a lot of people who are nominally capable of serious thought about the state of the world who have just uncritically jumped on the bandwagon of defending the Danish journalists. What I wrote comes from the perspective that there are a lot of people who just want war between Christendom and Islam, regardless of the specific circumstances. They will say to invade Iraq because of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, but this is only the closest justification at hand. On the other side, Bin Laden represents the same tendency-whatever initial proximal causes led him to declare enmity towards the West, he has now reached a point at which provoking war between the Muslim world and the West is his goal. These people, who are thankfully fewer in number than the group of people who will support any given war, are our real enemies. Here’s what I wrote elsewhere:
It’s almost impossible to overstate how bad the reaction in the Muslim world is. It is seriously scary that such a large number of people in these various countries are capable of reacting in this way, and certainly when it comes down to it, it is necessary to defend ourselves against people whose actions follow this pattern.But characterizing this as a simple case of free speech vs. ignorant heathens is missing the point by a long-shot. Muslims in the EU are subject to pretty vicious racism. These cartoons are just another episode in a dominant group doing everything it can to remind others that they are seen as inferior. There’s an analogy with spoiled children who provoke an animal until it lashes out (usually in a more violent fashion than what the children were doing) and then the parents respond by putting the animal down, because it’s hurt their poor innocent child.
Put this in a context where thousands of muslims (many of whom we have found out were innocent) are being abused in detainment camps, with religious humiliation being one of the primary tools used. Then consider that the same paper refused to publish cartoons of christ a few years ago on the grounds that they would offend people, and this looks less like an issue of free speech, and more about people who are interested in furthering a war between Christianity and Islam. Note that Andrew Sullivan is using a commentator who advocates deporting Muslims from Europe as an encouraging sign about the hard thought that people on the left are engaging in. The people who wrote these cartoons are in the business of ensuring that we spend the next 50 years at War with the Muslim world. They’re no better than any other political leader who uses war as a convenient tool. If they get that war, yes, we better hope that our nations win, but for those of us who are atheists, apatheists, or just uninterested in having our politics governed by religion, there’s more than one reason to be scared of what’s going on here.
The other thing to add is that taking the long view, the retribution which will be enacted against the Islamic world for this incident will dwarf the damage that the rioting has done.