Putting the cartoon wars in perspective
This comes from a longer Jonah Goldberg article:
But the issue of 'offense' is a distraction too. Let's assume that the publication of the cartoons was motivated entirely out of a desire to offend Muslims - or at least some Muslims. How does that change how we should view events now? If I needlessly offend my neighbor, shame on me. If, in response, he burns down my house and threatens to murder my entire family, who cares what I said in the first place? There is a call for a worldwide Islamic boycott of Danish products because of what an independent newspaper did in a free society. (The boycott shouldn't hurt sales of Danish hams, thank goodness.) Overreactions are usually about something bigger. The whole point of the 'last straw' metaphor is that small things can set off disproportionate reactions. One Muslim protestor in Britain held up a sign saying 'Freedom Go To Hell!' Do we really think that a handful of cartoons in Denmark transformed him from a Jeffersonian democrat into a jihadi? Was the holder of the sign 'Behead Those Who Insult Islam' a pacifist until recently? Maybe, just maybe, these guys brought some issues to the table long before they ever heard of these cartoons. It seems obvious, to me at least, that this is clang and clatter that comes with a clash of civilizations. Last year the (false) Newsweek story that American interrogators were flushing Korans down the toilet caused lethal riots in Afghanistan. In Paris, Muslims riot or threaten to riot about everything from schoolgirls without headscarves to the lack of halal Brie. Around the world, Muslims suffer from a mixture of legitimate grievances and an enormous inferiority complex. Muslim, and particularly Arab, governments have a vested interest in stirring up this sort of thing because it distracts from their own corrupt regimes. And the Muslim 'street' seems to fall for it every time. And so does much of the Western press. Sure, this is about freedom of expression, but it's also about so much more. Journalists just love to talk about freedom of the press. But they don't like to talk about that enormous chip on the shoulder of the Muslim world, and they really hate to say anything offensive to 'oppressed' peoples.To which I say, amen.