I’ve been ragging on Random Jottings in the comments about the crush world wide brush fire involving the cartoons of Muhammed. While I strongly disagree with his position, he does make one excellent point, which is that if we are going to contest this issue, we need to have the will to follow through and pay the butcher’s bill. It is certainly far from assured that the USA will and even less assured that Europe will.
This is a powerful point, but ultimately I don’t think it matters. If we don’t have the will now, when will we? And if we don’t have that will, we are going to lose anyway which makes tactics a moot issue. I too, would rather have this contest involve something of higher quaity, such as the writing of Salman Rushdie, but that didn’t happen. It is, moreover, clear that the barbarians fomenting this brush fire do not distinguish between literature and caricatures, which means that if we are to contest the ability of the Isamic world to dictate what is allowed in the West, it doesn’t really matter what the content in question is.
And, although I would think it didnt need to be said, but apparently it does, this is not a matter of requiring the Islamic world to endorse these images, or even be indifferent. The key issue is that barbaric behavior is not tolerated in the West and pointless elsewhere, that the West will not change its law or culture because of threats of violence. This is at the root of the entire WWIV project and so I don’t see it as something that can be put off. It is, in fact, the very point of the effort.
P.S. I want to call attention again to the actual statement by the State Department, which (IMHO) achieves a very good balance on this issue. This statement was badly misreported by Old Media, so unless you’ve read the original, you almost certainly don’t know what was really said.