Remember the old Looney Tunes cartoons that so many of us grew up watching? Warner Brothers never failed to delight us with its gallery of delightful characters and their wacky antics: Bugs Buggy, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety and Sylvester, the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, and all the rest.
But none of those silly cartoon characters can hold a candle to the wackiness of the real, live, living, and breathing loony tunes who are animatedly running amuck throughout the Islamic world and elsewhere since a Danish newspaper made the mistake of printing a series of cartoon caricatures of the prophet Muhammad.
Ordinarily, one could live to a ripe old age and never hear the words “Death to Denmark” being chanted by an angry mob. That’s because that tiny, inoffensive, liberal northern European country basically minds its own business, never bothers anyone, and wouldn’t intentionally hurt the proverbial fly. But that was before the great cartoon kerfuffle of 2006. Now, Danes, as well as all civilized peoples, are wishing that those mindless death chants were the worst of it.
Given that any representation of Muhammad in art is forbidden by Islam, it’s not particularly surprising that caricaturing him wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse would stir up a hornet’s nest. The only surprising thing is the degree and longevity of the ruckus.
The situation as it stands now is that thousands have gone on the rampage in cities around the world, rioting, burning infidel flags, torching infidel foreign embassies, calling for the severing of infidel heads, and generally raging at infidels at large shouting things like “Death to the infidels,” “Infidels must die,” and, as has already been noted, “Death to Denmark (which happens to be an infidel country)!”
Some also carried placards with none too subtle messages like, “Annihilate those who insult Islam,” and, my personal favorite, “Europe, take some lessons from 9/11.” A gratuitous repartee to that might be, Islamic world, take some lessons from 9/11 yourself — they’re called Afghanistan and Iraq, but that wouldn’t be very sporting or tolerant.
On the other hand, perhaps the time for tolerance — or at least an extreme degree of inappropriate tolerance — is over. It needs to be said that this cartoonish commotion isn’t happening because something is rotten in Denmark, but rather because something is rotten in a large swath of the planet stretching from Casablanca to Khartoum to Karachi to Kubang. That swath happens to be predominantly Muslim and that can’t be simply a coincidence. Despite the platitudes of multiculturalism, which in the West have become something akin to gospel in recent years and whose main tenet is that all cultures are pretty near equally worthy of respect, the West may finally be starting to wake up and smell the coffee as it boils over onto its lap.
Lord knows, the West has gotten wake-up calls galore over the past couple of decades about Islamic extremism, but has persistently hit the snooze button, rolled over, and gone back to sleep. Now it’s like an alarm that can’t be turned off. The only way to block it out would be with earplugs. Or intellectual blinders, the likes of which rule over some who are so stupefied by the exalted ideal of multiculturalism as to be incapable of perceiving reality. But when the foreign embassies of innocuous countries like Denmark and Norway get torched by Islamic mobs gone bananas over something as inconsequential as a few cartoons, the virulent cultural pathology of Islam is on display for all the world to see.
In this day and age, newspaper cartoonists, however opinionated or tasteless their drawings might be, should not have to go into hiding for fear of their lives as those Danes reportedly have. There’s a cartoonist in the newspaper I subscribe to who ticks me off almost every day. It’s Bush this and Rumsfeld that, every cartoon, every day. Can’t the guy do a negative cartoon about the other side just once? It’s not like he doesn’t have plenty of material to work with: Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Robert Byrd, Michael Moore. Come on, already. It’s a ready-made gallery of caricaturables that no one could invent.
But being a good citizen of the West who is well-adapted to modernity, part of which is the ability to tolerate opinions with which I disagree or even abhor, I’m not overcome with the need to riot, burn down the newspaper office, or behead its chief cartoonist. The problem for the modern world today is that such simple and basic tolerance has yet to be inculcated in the Islamic world and that would seem to make it and modernity largely incompatible.
As the exercise lady with the crew cut used to say in the old television infomercial, it’s time to stop the insanity. Not just the insanity of Islamic extremism, but also the insanity of stupidly placating the insanity of Islamic extremism. So for instance, when a Muslim complains to Burger King that a swirly looking thing on the lid of its ice cream cones resembles the word “Allah” in Arabic script and is therefore offensive, rather than pulling the item off the menu, he ought to be told to buy his ice cream cones elsewhere if he doesn’t like it.
Or instead of a hospital deleting ham from the Christmas day menu because it might offend some pork-averse Muslim, the choice of ham ought to remain on the menu for the benefit of people other than Muslims. Or instead of a school banning books with stories about pigs from the classroom because they might offend Muslim children…
You get the idea. In other words, stop bending over backwards to placate members of the world’s most intolerant culture because it only works against you in the long run. The ultimate paradoxical conundrum of multiculturalism is that its indiscriminate and/or overindulgent application actually encourages more intolerance and, therefore, could simply destroy itself in the end.
And then one day we all wake up and….Poof! No more multiculturalism, and it’s back to intolerance the world over. Who knows what they’ll be rioting about then. Perhaps something even more inane than cartoons.