The controversy over the Danish cartoons satirizing Islam has brought out a wide array of revealing responses. The American right has put on a particularly fine display of smug self righteousness. The frankly insane reactions by some Muslims are effortlessly translated into the reaction of all Muslims, with the inference of defective religion effortlessly sliding into definitive statements about inferior culture and character. So the controversy becomes an opportunity to prattle on about the white man's burden, in appropriately coded form of course.
There has been more than a fair share of hypocrisy as well. The blithely contradictory responses of right wing nut job Michelle Malkin to the cartoons satirizing Mohammed (free speech!) and those satirizing Rumsfeld's indifference to military casualties (horrors) are nicely captured by the Defeatists.
It is also funny that in her list of inappropriate responses to an offensive cartoon, she provides the following list: "you do not burn flags, take up guns and raid buildings, chant death to your opponents, or threaten suicide bombings." How did flag burning make that list? Unlike the others there is no harm involved. But that is what she is really offended by. And it is a good litmus test for American hypocrisy on free speech.
Polls repeatedly show that a majority of Americans favor a Constitutional ban on flag burning. I think they are offended by it to nearly the same degree as many Muslims are offended by these cartoons. Threats of violence in response to flag burning are ubiquitous and are not generally considered particularly remarkable or outrageous. Even Hillary wants to put people in jail for burning flags.
Pursuing their own agendas, the Vatican and the US government have each issued statements affirming that anti-Muslim images are as unacceptable as anti-Semitic images and anti-Christian images. The real focus of course is on the last of these. They admire and would like to emulate much of the Muslim world in being able to stamp out the mocking of their own sacred cows.
And now it turns out that Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that first published the cartoons had refused three years ago to run drawings lampooning Jesus Christ because they might be offensive to readers and were not funny.
For the record, a pox on all fanaticisms. No one has a right not to be offended. Getting all worked up over imaginary harm distracts from the very real harm that is happening all around us.