There’s something deeply wrong with a lot of people in a world where that’s a headline. The cartoon isn’t the thing bring published in France. The cartoon is the violence in the Middle East — drawn up, invented, ridiculous.
It’s still real enough to get people killed, of course. This isn’t a Tex Avery cartoon, unfortunately, where somebody can take a cannon ball through the stomach and then walk around with a perfect, and bloodless, circle missing from his middle. And it’s real enough to force a powerful(ish) nation to close 20 of its embassies in a vital region of the world.
Now the Middle East isn’t vital because of the productivity of its industries, or the intellectual properties it produces, or the strength of its armies. The Middle East has craploads of oil, and the West needs craploads of oil. Increasingly, the East does, too. And in the middle? Millions of seemingly crazy people willing to kill over a charmingly incompetent movie trailer produced in the basement of a Los Angeleno with only a passing familiarity with reality, or because a Frenchman drew a cartoon picture of Mohammed’s pee-pee.
I suppose the willingness to commit senseless acts of violence across a host of nations on the flimsiest of pretexts is a sort of power, too. It’s the same power as the unkempt man who mumbles to himself on the sidewalk has, to force you to cross the street a block before you need to.
It ain’t much, but when it’s the only card you’ve got, you play it.