The orgy of radical Muslim rage and blame-the victim Western tut-tutting over Pope Benedict XVI’s quotation from an obscure 14th-century Byzantine emperor goes on and on and on: Here’s Queen Rania of Jordan with her two cents’ worth of denunciation, and here’s the Benedict-blaming New York Times telling the pontiff how to micromanage his church. But Jonah Goldberg points out something that all the chin-pullers have missed: the “hilarity” of the radical Muslims’ murderous and effigy-burning reaction to the pope’s recondite remarks in an academic lecture to a group of fellow scholars in Germany.
And yes, it’s pretty funny, as Jonah points out in a column for Town Hall. Some examples:
“A Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokeswoman responded: ‘Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence.’
“During Friday prayers in Iran, a senior cleric changed his usual script to denounce the pope, but the crowd of worshippers hadn’t seen the memo, so they chanted back the usual refrain: ‘Death to America! Death to Israel!’
“In Turkey, protestors demanded that the Justice Ministry arrest the pope when he visits there this fall and prosecute him for insulting Islam.
“And just this week, clerics in Gaza reportedly suggested that the pope convert to Islam to save his own life.”
Of course, the anti-Benedict reprisals indulged in by the Islamic world aren’t really funny, as Jonah notes: church burnings in Gaza, the slaying of an elderly Catholic nun in Somalia. But as Jonah notes, the controversy isn’t about Islam; it’s about us in the West. Everytime one of these events takes place–cartoons in Denmark, a Dutch video, Tony Blair’s tough stance in Iraq–some Westerner somewhere apologizes. Yes, blames the Wests, not the true culprits who espouse a violent, tyrannical, and ultimately totalitarian version of Islam. It’s shameful. As Jonah writes:
“The West is caught in a…ysfunctional cycle of extortion and intimidation with Islam….Whether it’s the pope’s comments or some Danish cartoons, self-appointed spokesmen for the Islamic street say, ‘You have offended a billion Muslims,’ which really means, ‘There are so many of us, you should watch out.’ And if you didn’t get the message, just look around for the burning embassies and murdered infidels. They’re not hard to find.
“In response, the West apologizes and apologizes. Radical Muslims, who are not stupid, take note and become emboldened by these displays of weakness and capitulation. And the next time, they demand two pounds of flesh. Meanwhile, the entire global conversation starts from the assumption that the West is doing something wrong by tolerating freedom of speech, among other things.”
This is no laughing matter–but until it stops, we’ll find ourselves chuckling at the gruesome irony in the spectacle of Westerners’ bowing and scraping and beating their breasts with apologies for daring to “provoke” murderous acts against them, the West.