Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Cartoon Violence

I never imagined that a handful of cartoons could result in mass riots, burning embassies, and death. But alas, this is what the world has come to. I find it difficult to have any sympathy for the offended Muslims demanding blood and attacking European embassies. Even in the days following 9/11, 3/11 and the London bombings, the West went to great lengths to try to reach out to moderate Muslims and tried to argue that the war on terror was not a war on Islam but a war against those who would pervert a great and peaceful religion. In the days after the publication of a few distateful and childish cartoons, the Muslim world is demanding blood and blaming the national governments for the actions of the privately owned newspapers.

Some have been trying to say that the newspapers shouldn't have published them because they were offensive or tasteless or to remind us of other subtle or not-so-subtle restrictions on speech, but that misses the point. The point is that the violent reaction is wildly overblown and will ultimately only makes Muslims look worse. If someone published equally offensive and foul cartoons or statements (as one Muslim group did, publishing a cartoon depicting Anne Frank in bed with Adolf Hitler), I hardly expect Europeans to be mobbing Arab embassies. It's exactly this kind of reaction that led the cartoonists to draw a bomber Muhammad in the first place.

They haven't seemed to realize it yet, but the Muslim world has a very bad P.R. problem on their hands (well illustrated by a Cox and Forkum cartoon). This recent bout of violence only serves to further the suspicion Europeans have against their own Muslim minorities and the Muslim world as a whole. Up to this point, many in Europe and liberal America argued that Islamic terrorism and violence was a reaction to legitimate grievances of a region of the world oppressed by the West. If only we were nicer, they would be nice. It will be much harder to hold this view, given the cartoon violence. Unless the Muslim leaders step in, get their people under control, and start doing some P.R. damage control, it will become untenable for many in the West to maintain the idea that Islam is a peaceful religion. God help us if some stupid cartoons are what ends up triggering the clash of civilizations.


Post a Comment

<< Home