The 'Muslim Street' is all aflame about a number of cartoons depicting their Prophet Muhammad. I haven't exactly figured out why, but in their view, any depiction is sacrilegious.
I've never really much cared for Thomas Friedman. I think his views are a bit constrained by the same disease which Saul Steinberg depicted so well. However, I've never been able to shake his point that the Global War we're now engaged in amounts to a Clash of Values (and forgive me, but I've been unable to find a citation to his point). The Muslim World values Virtue. They cannot tolerate alcohol, drugs, prostitution, homosexuality, pornography, or any number of "sins". They believe that there is a difference between Right and Wrong, and that they cannot in any way, condone something they view as wrong. They are strikingly intolerant of that which they view as Sin. The Western World values Freedom. We agree with the Muslim world that there are a number of "sins" that should not be accepted. However--and this is where the worlds seperate--we believe that when the choice is freely made to pursue Virtue over Sin, that that choice becomes all the more powerful. The downside is that in order to have this freedom, we have to accept those among us who would not make the same choice. Tolerance is both our Saving and our Achille's Heel. [As an aside, I thought it curious that, in searching for a citation of Friedman's point, I found that he's not exactly viewed well by the Left. However, I digress.]
So, back to the Cartoons...
It occurred to me yesterday that a visual stereotype of 'Muslim Street' is a street demonstration where something is burned...a flag, an Uncle Sam effigy, even the gruesome burning of American bodies (Find the image yourself...I won't post it.).
The Muslims can desecrate something which we value--a flag, an icon, a human being. They can even be all-but-forgiven when Palestinians, while escaping a shootout with Israeli military, take refuge in one of Christianity's most holy sites. But this is the response when something they value is trod upon.
Sorry, but if we have any stones at all, and if we recognize just what is going on here--Friedman's Clash of Values--the Muslim world is going to have to get used to more of the same. And Charlie over at the OC shows that perhaps the Europeans (so far, absent the French) are beginning to shed their Euro-weenie label.
Stephen Green has a post up from an Eastern European correspondent who makes the Piss Christ point--which better illustrates the point I've been feebly trying to make.