Kathleen Parker

OKLAHOMA CITY - Another day, another headline. The world moves on. Not I.

I'm obsessing about those 12 cartoons, a world gone mad and an American media lost in self-righteous loser-ness. My own tribe surrendered without a fight, and we may pay for generations. Unless.

I'm speaking to a large crowd in a church not far from the site of our most infamous homegrown terrorist act. It's been almost 11 years since Timothy McVeigh blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 and wounding some 500.

Now a memorial stands in the building's place. A Cyclone fence nearby is stuffed with mementos - teddy bears for the babies who died in the day-care nursery, notes for friends, family and strangers. So many come here, I'm told, that the fence has to be cleared every few weeks, its contents stashed in a warehouse.

Then it begins again. Week after week, year after year. Trinkets, toys, memories.

On this brisk February morning, the church is filled to capacity with 1,200 to 1,300 Oklahomans. The cartoon controversy is still fresh, so I talk about that. A dozen caricatures published last fall in a Danish paper, Jyllands-Posten, had recently resurfaced in the Middle East. Outrage, riots, flag-burnings. Same ol' same ol'.

Except this time, those who chose to be offended want to kill the rest of us. Handmade signs punctuate news reports: "Behead those who insult Islam." Danish embassies in Beirut and Damascus are torched, while Danish cartoonists go into hiding.

A poll, meanwhile, finds that 40 percent of Muslims living in England want Sharia law in predominantly Muslim areas, which effectively would create a nation within a nation. A leading imam says apologies aren't enough. He wants those who dare insult Muhammad to be prosecuted and punished.

It's the Islamic way. Not our way, but no matter. We in the West either "get it" - conform to Islam - or we will get it. In due time, my friend, in due time.

I ask for a show of hands. How many of you good people have seen the cartoons that have ignited the Muslim world and tilted even more hatred our way? One hand, two, three. I count maybe 10 to 15, no more than 20 out of more than 1,200.

These are not unsophisticated "ordinary Americans," as the media like to refer to those who live in flyover country. They may be "regular" Americans - hard-working and family-oriented - but they're not "ordinary." They're well-educated, engaged and interested in their world. Admittedly, they're mostly adults of a certain age, probably untethered to the Internet, which may explain why they haven't seen the cartoons.


Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
 
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