"First they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me."
This famous statement can be updated for Europeans:
First they came for Israel, and we didn't speak up because we weren't Jews. Then they came for Lebanon's Christians, and we didn't speak up because we weren't Maronites. Then they came for America, and we didn't speak up because we weren't Americans. Then they came for Sudan's blacks, and we didn't speak up because we weren't Sudanese blacks. Then they came for us, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for us.
As long as Muslim demonstrators only shouted "Death to America" and "Death to Israel," Europe (and the rest of the world's Left) found reasons either to ignore the Nazi-like evil inherent in those chants (and the homicidal actions that flowed from them) or to blame America and Israel for the hatred.
But like the earlier Nazis, our generation's fascists hate anything good, not merely Jews and Americans. And now the Damascus embassy of Norway, a leading anti-Israel "peace at any price" country, has been torched. And more and more Norwegians, and Brits, and French, and Dutch, and Swedes, and the rest of the European appeasers who blamed America for 9-11 and blamed Israel for Palestinian suicide bombings, are beginning to wonder whether there just might be something morally troubling within the Islamic world.
Some on the Left here and in Europe are beginning to reassess whether America and Israel or their Islamic enemies are at fault.
The fact that major newspapers in most Western European countries published some or all of the cartoons that triggered the riots against Denmark, the country in which the offending cartoons of Muhammad first appeared, was a statement that at least some in Europe have had it with appeasement of Islamic violence.
And here in America, a left-of-center columnist for the Los Angeles Times, Tim Rutten, just wrote: "It's no longer possible to overlook the culture of intolerance, hatred and xenophobia that permeates the Islamic world."
As it happens, I have sympathy with the notion that newspapers and others need to be sensitive to religious, including Muslim, sensibilities. However, when Muslim governments and religious spokesmen attack the West for its insensitivity to Muslims and its anti-Muslim prejudice, one has entered the Twilight Zone. Because nowhere in the world is there anywhere near the religious bigotry and sheer hatred of other religions that exists in the Muslim world.
Christians nearly everywhere in the Arab and Muslim worlds are usually second-class citizens at best and terribly treated at worst.
The Taliban Islamic regime in Afghanistan blew up the unique Buddhist sculptures in their country because they didn't want even a trace of a non-monotheistic faith to survive in an Islamic country.
About a million non-Arab and non-Muslim men, women and children have been slaughtered by the Islamic regime in Sudan.
Nigerian Christians are periodically murdered by Islamic mobs.
And regarding Jews, Andrew Sullivan writes in this week's Time: "The Arab media run cartoons depicting Jews and the symbols of the Jewish faith with imagery indistinguishable from that used in the Third Reich."
As for the riots and Islamic government protests, one question needs to be posed to these people: Which casts Islam in a worse light -- political cartoons depicting Muhammad, or Muslims who murder innocents around the world in the name Allah and Islam?
Did any Jews riot when the Los Angeles Times published a cartoon of the holiest site in Judaism, the Western Wall, with its stones reconfigured to spell "hate"?
Did any Christians riot when museums displayed "Piss Christ," a crucifix submerged in artist Andres Serrano's urine?
What we have is a culture largely based on saving face and honor juxtaposed with a Judeo-Christian Western culture largely based on saving liberty and innocent life.
All of us, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, should pray that the better one wins.