It seems to me most probable that insults to the Prophet Muhammad appear regularly in the modern world. After all, insults against revered figures in the world's other major religions pop up all the time. As for Islam, a book such as Salman Rushdie's "Satanic Verses" can be published anywhere. A thirteen-minute anti-Islamic video can arrive on YouTube, and my guess is there are others that have and will appear there. In some obscure land, far from the major media, a cartoon is published perhaps with the Prophet in an absurd pose. Why not a simple slur on Facebook? Who can control Facebook? Will a slur found there set off the mobs next time? And what constitutes a slur? These Islamic mobs keep changing their standards. What was a minor lapse of taste yesterday becomes a cause for terrible indignation today.
The metamorphosing angers of Islam have been a feature of the modern world for decades. Possibly the first show of anger was in Tehran with the takeover of the American embassy. But I trace Islamic anger back further, at least to Sirhan B. Sirhan, who assassinated the 1968 presidential candidate, Robert F. Kennedy, for some fancied transgression. From all I can tell, the angers of Islam are getting worse. Even with the presidency of Barack Obama, the Nobel Laureate, the angers of Islam have worsened. He began his presidency tendering the olive branch of peace to Islam. Now the Islamic world is afire. Mobs are burning our diplomatic installations in places where moderate Islam reigns, for instance, Tunisia. In Libya, unspeakable desecrations take place against us. Egypt seems to be out of control, and Egypt is supposedly an ally and recipient of foreign aide.
The rest of the world seems to be going forward toward prosperity. Even countries like China, India and Russia are proceeding into the future. Islam, at least in Arab lands, is going backwards. It is doing something I would have thought preposterous in decades past. It is heading back toward the Middle Ages and embracing that time and earlier times with open arms. I think some day we will recognize it as the season following the vaunted Arab Spring.
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