The continuing ‘cartoon violence‘ is almost comical. And like a good comic, it can be read on several levels.
The first level is straightforward; the protests are an over-reaction by hypersensitive people with no interest in getting along. (On the other hand – if you want to get along with your neighbours, do you publish drawings making fun of them?) These protests didn’t even begin until the cartoons gained prominence beyond the Danish press; the scenes of Islamic countries banning Danish products before realising they didn’t have any Danish products to ban (bacon was rarely on the menu in Saudi Arabia anyway) are packed with comedic mileage.
Now, the cartoons are everywhere, multiplying as the protests continue. Which must be infuriating to the fundamentalists. So the first take is probably the most wrong: it’s an extreme reaction by violent people.
The second level, however, goes a bit deeper. It’s less about religion, and more about the desire to be taken seriously. Those who desperately want to be taken seriously usually end up taking themselves more seriously still – and end up looking and sounding merely ridiculous, trumped-up little twerps with shrill voices rather than ambassadors of a valid culture. That’s another view on the East vs Middle East situation: they feel we’re not taking them seriously.
The third level, though – the one I believe – is simplest of all. These kids are just plain bored. Underemployed, disaffected, low skilled and with few prospects; that’s the lot of Britain’s young male Muslims today. Just as black-on-black shootings in London are often the result of trivial street jostlings, and Council estate vandalism the product of subliterate white kids with nothing but underage drinking to fill each day, disproportionate reactions to a perceived slight are normal in this context.
So there you have it. These protests are just Islam’s equivalent of football violence. No philosophy, rhyme or reason to it; it’s just a way of killing time with your mates.