Super Hip Grandma

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February 06, 2006

Pay Attention To Muslims Gone Wild

by Steve Muscatello

An irrational fear of evangelical Christians deprives secular America of a true understanding of the dangers posed by radical Islam. But those who fret over an imagined American “theocracy” run by Christian zealots should take note that it’s not Bobby from Birmingham or Wally from Wichita that’s burning down embassies, raiding buildings, threatening executions and otherwise behaving like animals on the streets of (to name a few) Damascus, Gaza City, Jakarta and Baghdad.

By now you know the story. Last October, a Danish newspaper printed twelve cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad in various postures: walking through a field; in front of a classroom chalkboard; and even with a bomb tucked in his turban.

The initial reaction was tepid. But then an Austrian newspaper reprinted the cartoons in January, followed by French, German, Italian and Spanish newspapers this month. The reprints set off a firestorm (Islamic law forbids depictions of Muhammad to prevent idol worship). Violent protests have raged since, reaching a head Saturday as Syrian mobs burned down much of the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus.

If the outbursts were small, isolated incidents in two or three countries it would be easier to write them off—just the work of a vocal—and exceptionally radical—minority, we’d say. But the demonstrations have been large and widespread. Indeed, if airborne disease spread through the Muslim world as fast as outrage, a simple case of the flu might afflict millions in minutes. Things get contagious.

If only Muslims had a better public relations strategist they might have avoided this brouhaha. Instead of letting the little-noticed drawings drift into oblivion, Muslim protests lit the fires of Western curiosity. What do these cartoons look like? Then the media swarm came and suddenly newspapers on the other side of the world were printing editorials titled “The freedom to blaspheme” and galvanizing armies of free speech advocates.

Nevertheless, there are two reasons why it’s better for the West (but not the Danish and Norwegian embassies) that it happened this way.

First, the timing is perfect. The latest issue of Rolling Stone depicts rapper Kanye West as a Christ-like figure in a crown of thorns with the title: “The Passion of Kanye West.” The cover shot is a disgusting affront to Christians, and certainly as blasphemous as the cartoons were to Muslims.

As a result, no one was surprised when Christians firebombed Rolling Stone headquarters in New York.

Oh wait, didn’t happen.

Okay, well no one was surprised when Christians threatened to firebomb the building.

Nope, didn’t happen either.

Rarely does history provide such a perfect point of comparison, and the contrasting responses could hardly be more telling: When faced with a nearly identical situation, one faith resorted to violence, threats and rage like unruly savages; the other was civil, responding (if at all) with letters to the editor, calls for a boycott and many public denunciations.

Second, the rage of the Muslim world again lays bare radicalism for all the world to see. A similar fervor was set off in 2005 in response to purported Koran desecration at Guantanamo Bay. People died then, many of them Muslims. But it didn’t matter. The rage is as overwhelming as it is contagious.

Victor Davis Hanson has called this the “lunacy principle,” that is, “these people are capable of doing anything at anytime."

That’s what makes Iran so scary. When President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust and says “Israel must be wiped off the map” he really means it. And if his nuclear program continues unabated, he might just wake-up one morning and do it.

And that’s the thing, for all their shrewd and secret plots, most radical Muslims are remarkably forthcoming: they seek the destruction of Western civilization, beginning with Israel, in order to establish a world-wide caliphate.

That blueprint should scare secular America more than, say, a well-organized group of pro-life activists. But in many cases, it doesn’t. Trace it to comfort or laziness: it’s easier to create a paper tiger out of the “Religious Right” and to rail against their “bigoted” and “intolerant” policies than to acknowledge the true threats posed by radical Islam.

It’s early yet, but the cartoon protests may go a long way in changing this mentality, in expanding horizons beyond the water’s edge. President John Quincy Adams once said that America should not go “abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” Well, he might have added that America should not create monsters at home over relatively tame ideological differences. After all, these days we don't have to search very far for monsters. They're already in the streets, calling our name.


At 5:44 PM, Blogger Three Score and Ten or more said...

Grandma you're gettin better and better.


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