The Cartoon Jihad is so insane I wish I had thought of it as a plot device. Truly, when you think the world can get no nuttier, suddenly it does. The risible headline on the MSNBC site right now is NATO TROOPS IN DEADLY CARTOON PROTEST. I never thought I would see the words deadly and cartoon juxtaposed in a sentence that didn't also have the words "Monty Python" in it. The violence has now spread from Beirut to Damascus to Afghanistan, and now, to West Africa. Over cartoons? Excuse me?
The cartoons in question first appeared in September, so why is the brouhaha occurring now? Hmmm...could it be that someone is manipulating it? And where are the Danish flags all coming from? I couldn't get my hands on one if I was in a scavenger hunt and the prize was a Ferrari, but suddenly, they're all over the Middle East? The most disorienting thing about the whole affair is that the flag being burned is not the familiar American one (traditionally sold with a Bic lighter in Arab countries). This time its Denmark's turn. And doesn't the Danish flag feature a cross? If I'm not mistaken, that is a rather resonant symbol for Christians, but in Jihadi World respect is just the name of a (banned) Aretha Franklin song. Along these lines, one has to laugh at the response of a popular Tehran newspaper to this mess. The Danes offend Islamic sensibilities and these Iranians turn around and sponsor a contest for cartoons mocking the Holocaust. To be sure, that's their right. On the other hand, their sense of moral equivalency is worth examining: Muslim murderers are taken to task by a cartoon in a Danish paper, so they respond by vilifying Jewish victims of Nazis. If Julius Streicher were alive today, he'd keep an apartment in Tehran.
The saddest thing of all, though, is the appeasers, who are busy apologizing for this. They react to the sight of angry Muslims the way an indulgent parent behaves when a kid refuses to eat his grilled cheese sandwich because it was touched by the creamed corn. Instead of saying "Just eat the sandwich," this parent, bending to unreason, goes to the stove and makes the kid another. The behavior of the child is simply accepted, never challenged.
There are times to apologize. If, for example, the Danish government had placed the cartoons on their official stationary, a mea culpa might have been in order. But they appeared in a commercial context, a distinction the jihadists, with their inability to see a difference between the public and the private, or the religious and the secular, are blind to. The sight of Westerners capitulating to Muslim demands regarding one of the most fundamental tenets of our society does not bode well for a future in which HBO will be available.