Over the past few years, we’ve seen several incidents where violent Muslim protests over relatively minor slights earned big government and corporate concessions. Death threats over a few cartoons of Mohammed caused media outlets all over the world to censor themselves in ways that they would never have done otherwise. Muslims have murdered people because they felt insulted and the nations of the west have generally treated the killers as sympathetic victims, not brazen thugs.
The message to everyone else could not be more clear: violence earns capitulations. I, and others such as Glenn Reynolds, have wondered how long it would be before adherents of other faiths would put the lesson into practice. Well, that day has arrived.
When New York artist Andres Serrano plunged a plastic crucifix into a glass of his own urine and photographed it in 1987 under the title Piss Christ, he said he was making a statement on the misuse of religion.
Controversy has followed the work ever since, but reached an unprecedented peak on Palm Sunday when it was attacked with hammers and destroyed after an “anti-blasphemy” campaign by French Catholic fundamentalists in the southern city of Avignon.
The violent slashing of the picture, and another Serrano photograph of a meditating nun, has plunged secular France into soul-searching about Christian fundamentalism and Nicolas Sarkozy’s use of religious populism in his bid for re-election next year.
That last paragraph interests me. Few news outlets would say that the dozens of violent Muslim incidents over the past few years have plunged any nation into “soul-searching” about Islamism. Indeed, I’d be hard-pressed to say that any nation has given much thought at all about how their weakness makes them a more appealing target to everyone willing to bring a little violence to the table. To the contrary, most of Europe, as well as the United States, have gone in the opposite direction. They’ve shielded Islam from any criticism and actively persecuted critics.
So now members of another religion — this one a Christian religion — have joined the Temper Tantrum League and we’re all just a little less safe and free because of it. I suppose I should be full of condemnation right now, but how can I criticize those French Catholics for emulating Islamic success?