Ordinary Muslims are, by and large, playing to stereotypes — behaving like easily insulted fanatics. Muslim intellectuals writing in British newspapers are also doing their usual thing — blaming it all on Western racism and exclusion, saying that there are legitimate material grievances behind the protests, and saying the cartoons were nothing but provocations expressing Western hostility to Islam. Most Muslims agree that something has to be done to prevent such insults against religion.
Non-Muslim Europeans are also out to reinforce their own stereotypes, as weak-kneed people who are incapable of standing up for anything. A flood of apologies to Muslims have appeared, from newspapers that published the cartoons to public and government figures. It’s a terrible, terrible thing that Muslim religious sensibilities have been offended.
Americans who butt in also, by and large, fit stereotypes about Americans: conservative morons who enjoy the luxury of living in a country with a negligible Muslim population, and who counter Muslim religious fanaticism with righteous posturing of their own. Kick some ass, invade some more Muslim lands, spread the Christian gospel and teach those Ay-rabs civilization.
Sigh. On one hand, this whole fracas reinforces my general contempt for the human species. On the other hand, I can’t even get my usual fool’s compensation of a bitter sense of superiority. I’d like to come out and say I know the right and proper way to respond to incidents that (possibly deliberately) provoke religious offense, but I don’t see any way to do it without appearing a morally outraged twit myself. Again, sigh…