Q: Why aren't angry Muslims in the United States torching buildings owned by Danes, Norwegians, French, Spanish and other Cartoon Infidels whose newspapers have printed cartoons, first published in Denmark, bearing the likeness of the Prophet Muhammad?
A: Because American Muslims have better things to do.
Here lies an important fact, too little mentioned or explored. The recent outburst of righteous arson in the Muslim world has been described as a warning to the West, a sign that radical Islam has become a force of considerable sweep and power, an indicator that terrorists have mastered propaganda techniques capable of sending raging hordes into the streets in a matter of minutes.
But another explanation fits the facts. The mayhem has centered in four nations: Afghanistan, Lebanon, Pakistan and Syria. Each has a double-digit unemployment rate, and poverty rates between 32 percent and 52 percent. All have large pools of idle men who can show up for a mob activity at a moment's notice. In short, they're havens for losers, uniquely equipped to stage such spectacles.
Even so, it took Danish Imam Abu Laban and a handful of other inciters five months to foment the riots. Laban began touring the Middle East last fall, bearing a dozen cartoons many of which were sloppy and amateurish first published in a Danish paper. They contained unflattering depictions of Muhammad.
So then Laban and company got creative. First, they grabbed a photograph taken at a French hog-calling contest, and claimed the fellow wearing a plastic snout and ears actually was posing as a porcine Prophet. They tossed in another bad drawing of a character saying, "I'm a pedophile," along with a photo-shopped tableau of a dog having its way with a Muslim bent in prayer.
Then they put together a list of fake charges against the dastardly Danes. They accused Danish papers of publishing 120 anti-Muslim cartoons and photos. They warned Danes were planning a movie that mocked Muhammad. They charged the Danish government with burning, desecrating and banning the Quran, prohibiting the construction of mosques and outlawing Islam.
It took a lot of effort aided and abetted by Syria, Iran and al Jazeera but the lie-mongering finally worked. Mobs in Lebanon and Syria set fire to Danish embassies. Riots broke out elsewhere, claiming more than a dozen lives. Iran organized an international boycott of Denmark and renamed Danish pastries, "Muhammad pastries."
The ringleader, Abu Laban, is affiliated with the Egyptian terror group the Islamic Brotherhood. He told Western reporters he never desired to see Denmark hurt, but then crowed in Arabic to al Jazeera that the boycott was working!
Yet, the central "crime" the mere depiction of Muhammad is neither a crime nor an anomaly. It has been commonplace in parts of the Muslim world for centuries. Indeed, a prominent Egyptian newspaper published the offending cartoons a week after their original appearance in Denmark. Nobody uttered of word of complaint at the time.
The episode reveals the weakness of hotheads who pursue mayhem in the name of Islam. Laban's quest to conjure fire took months to produce results and managed mainly to make the rioters look foolish or, in selected cases, dead.
An enterprising shopkeep in Gaza told Reuters that he saw an opportunity for commercial geld the instant the story broke. He bought Danish flags from a Taiwanese vendor and sold them at a premium. He knew locals would want pennants to burn. The man counted on his neighbors to behave like emotional fools.
Equally telling has been the weakness of those who always capitulate pre-emptively when hotheads kvetch. Jordan fired and arrested two newspaper editors for publishing a couple of the controversial cartoons. A Dubai university fired American-born Professor Claudia Keyboars for showing students what the fuss was about. Virtually every newspaper in the United States declined to publish the cartoons for fear of giving "offense."
Abu Laban is to Islam what David Duke is to Christianity: a bigoted joke. He appeals to the ignorant and dispossessed, and mistakes pointless rage for righteous passion.
And yet, his moment of "glory" teaches valuable lessons. Guys like him fail utterly in places where people have hope and prospects like the United States.
Furthermore, the most reliable vaccine against idiotic rage is faith the soulful conviction that the Creator is not the Destroyer; that religion directs us not toward the torch, but toward charity; and that G-d is not petty, vain, small-minded or humorless. He leaves that to the likes of Abu Laban.