February 9, 2006
Which is worse: satiric humor that crosses the line into blasphemy, or state-sponsored mob violence? The Bush administration at first was more concerned more about the former, criticizing European newspapers that published cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammed. Yesterday, however, the President and Secretary of State Rice turned their attention to the latter. See Washington Post. The delayed shift in emphasis is a bit odd, since the sources of the mob violence which is spreading around the world are the very same Islamofascist rogue regimes in Damascus and Tehran that are our main state enemies in the global war on terrorism. Wasn't that obvious to begin with? There is no doubt that the wave of violence has far more to do with the aggressive political agenda of Syria and Iran than with Muslim "anger" at the Danish newspaper that published the cartoons, as anyone who studies Third World politics should know. Now, however, we learn from pajamas media (via Instapundit) as well as Freedom for Egyptians (via Donald Sensing) that the offending cartoons were published in Egypt back in October! Can you say "hypocritical, selective outrage"? Clearly, the ability of some people to take a joke is highly variable.
Writing from the European "front lines," Paul Belien observes in the Brussels Journal (link via Lynn Mitchell), that
[T]hose who are now reacting so violently to the twelve Danish cartoons make it quite clear by their violent reaction that they are only insulted because the cartoon of Muhammad with a bomb under his turban mirrors their own (not necessarily my) view of Islam: a religion of revenge, terror and bombs. "Above all else, the Devil cannot stand to be mocked," C.S. Lewis said. Lewis was wrong: Above all else, the Devil cannot stand to be shown his own image. It is the truth that hurts.
Belien goes on to cite the state motto of New Hampshire: "Live free or die." Fortunately, more Europeans are becoming inclined toward the former course. In any case, we should hesitate at least a moment before condemning brutal cynicism or religious sentiment gone astray. Chris Green has "mixed emotions" on this question. Looking at it from the other side's perspective, he recalls the Christ-mocking "art" that has been displayed in some American cities, and wonders whether the cartoons mocking Mohammed as a terrorist were indeed beyond the pale. In a similar vein, Pat Buchanan expressed such worries on Sean Hannity's radio program yesterday, reminding listeners of a simple rule of daily living: prudence. Whether someone has the legal right to do something is often less important than whether the action in question is prudent under the particular circumstances.
I followed up my Feb. 1 and Feb. 2 blog posts about President Bush's declaration that we Americans are "addicted to oil" with a grouchy-toned letter to the editor, which appeared in today's Staunton Daily News Leader.