The global protests over the political cartoons in Europe which have angered many Muslims have become deadly again, with four people dying in Afghanistan today. Combine this with the torching of the Danish embassy in Iran, riots in Lebanon, and protests amongst the Islamic communities in Europe, and this thing has gone from the ridiculous to the sublime.
Let's put it this way - four people in Afghanistan have died over a cartoon. Now, in reality, they got out of hand and disobeyed police orders. But I have never seen anybody in America take to the streets over a particularly racy "Family Circus" where Jeffy and "Not Me" catch the neighbor's wife in an amourous pose with Daddy. Nobody in England has taken to arms and attacked Parliament because "Get Fuzzy" was a tad too naughty one day, and the ink blurred the view of the Page 3 girls.
The outrage over these cartoons does prove one vital thing - the West is losing the war for the Hearts, Minds and Wallets of the Islamic World.
When it appeared that NATO and the Warsaw Pact countries would fight each other in a never-ending game of weapons collections, along came the calvary in the form of Levis, McDonalds and video games. The Soviets weren't souless monsters - they just needed a good shopping mall. The Western culture won the war the B2 Bomber couldn't.
When it appeared Japan and the US would fight it out for global economic dominance, it wasn't a well-played interest rate deduction by the Fed or brilliant moves by Wall Street that swung the balance in the US' favor. It was the pervasiveness of the American culture to allow its icons to burn so brightly in the Japanese mindset that their investors didn't mind paying well-above-market value for high-profile properties. When the real estate market collapsed a couple of years later, the Japanese firms were left paying incredible loans for devalued properties.
What's happening in Islam is that this religion has managed to fight tooth-and-nail to keep from being even slightly assimilated by the Western culture. Ideas like freedom of the press and relative indifference towards religion have not taken hold like it has in the West. When shows like Family Guy can draw God in bed with a woman, or Drawn Together can show God in a "glory hole" - two strong images that were meant to offend Christian conservatives - gather nary a peep of complaint, that indicates most Westerners don't get too bothered about cartoon images. However, dare show a drawn image of the Prophet, and it's time to riot!
What's more offensive? A cartoon of a blasphemous image, in which the Family Guy, Drawn Together, and political cartoons in question all are , or the fact that people have died in these subsequent protests?
Do these protests prove the very predujices many Westerners feel towards Muslims, or is this yet another demonstration that Henry Kissinger's assertion that there will never be peace in the Middle East is true?