Too bad about the people who get killed. But it’s all publicity, right? Speaking of that, these constant images of maddened Muslim mobs tend to work against a religion that is supposed to be all gentle and nice. I think Islam is supposed to be all about the Five Pillars, faith and prayer and fasting and so forth. But all we see on CNN is a sixth pillar made of suicide bombs and AK-47s. Every time some grinning clod jams a stick into the hornet’s nest, he’s hoping for two things: some brief fame, and a wildly disproportionate reaction that further complicates Islam’s already serious public-relations problem. Over in Yemen, they’re always happy to oblige.
At the risk of restating the obvious: this kind of thing is not about Islam. It’s about a vast demographic of very poor, very ignorant and very angry young men, who happen to be concentrated in a region with no tradition of free speech. They see images of Western excess every day and resent it greatly. Add in the easy availability of weapons and explosives, a lot of cynical leaders who preach that death (not their own) is a really great outcome, and it doesn’t take much to get them going. In that climate, they could all be Unitarians and still be violent as hell. It’s not so much about defending the prophet as sticking it to the man.
I don’t know who made this stupid video and don’t really care. I don’t think U.S. officials should be apologizing for it and thus implying some sort of responsibility. All we can really do is reiterate that free speech is sacrosanct on this side of the world, and that individual speech has nothing to do with government policy. It won’t placate the mobs, but then you’ve seen the pictures. Only blood will do that.