Enough with the Apologies already!
Western reactions to Muslim "days of anger" have followed a familiar pattern. Last winter, some Western newspapers defended their Danish colleagues, even going so far as to reprint the cartoons -- but others, including the Vatican, attacked the Danes for giving offense.
Some leading Catholics have now defended the Pope -- but others, no doubt including some Danes, have complained that his statement should have been better vetted, or never given at all.
This isn't surprising: By definition, the West is not monolithic. Left-leaning journalists don't identify with right-leaning colleagues (or right-leaning Catholic colleagues), and vice versa.
Not all Christians, let alone all Catholics -- even all German Catholics -- identify with the Pope either, and certainly they don't want to defend his every scholarly quotation.
Unfortunately, these subtle distinctions are lost on the fanatics who torch embassies and churches. And they may also be preventing all of us from finding a useful response to the waves of anti-Western anger and violence that periodically engulf parts of the Muslim world.
Clearly, a handful of apologies and some random public debate -- should the Pope have said X, should the Danish prime minister have done Y -- are ineffective and irrelevant!!!!
None of the radical Islamic clerics accepts Western apologies, and none of their radical followers reads the Western press.
Instead, Western politicians, writers, thinkers and speakers should stop apologizing -- and start uniting. By this, I don't mean that we all need to rush to defend or to analyze this particular sermon; I leave that to experts on Byzantine theology.
But, we can all unite in our support for freedom of speech -- surely the Pope is allowed to quote from medieval texts -- and of the press.
We can also unite, loudly, in our condemnation of violent, unprovoked attacks on churches, embassies and elderly nuns.
By "we" I mean here the White House, the Vatican, the German Greens, the French Foreign Ministry, NATO, Greenpeace, Le Monde and Fox News -- Western institutions of the left, the right and everything in between.
True, these principles sound pretty elementary -- "we're pro-free speech and anti-gratuitous violence" -- but in the days since the Pope's sermon, I don't feel that I've heard them defended in anything like a unanimous chorus.
A lot more time has been spent analyzing what the pontiff meant to say, or should have said, or might have said if he had been given better advice. All of which is simply beside the point, since nothing the Pope has ever said comes even close to matching the vitriol, extremism and hatred that pour out of the mouths of radical Imams and fanatical clerics every day across Europe and the Muslim world.
Almost none of which ever provokes any Western response at all.
Maybe it's time that it should: When Saudi Arabia publishes textbooks commanding good Wahhabi Muslims to "hate" Christians, Jews and non-Wahhabi Muslims, for example, why shouldn't the Vatican, the Southern Baptists, Britain's chief rabbi and the Council on American-Islamic Relations all condemn them -- simultaneously?
Now the point is this: We in the West are a fairly tolerant and apathetic lot and we are not quick to anger. But, people in the Middle East should realized that when push comes to shove it really could get very dangerous for them!
(These have only been very minor shoves so far in the grand scheme of things. This includes 9/11, the war in Afghanistan and Iraq etc. etc. They are more of a political problem than anything else!)
Now this is not a threat or anything else but a heads up! All the terrorist acts have been but minor irritants in the psyche of the West. BUT, if it gets to the point where a united Europe and North America start to take the provocations of Islam personally and go after Muslim blood...... it could prove to be catastrophic for the Middle East! In other words, reign in your radicals!!
Your Observant Scribe;