“Have we got this right? Muslim medical personnel conspire to construct and detonate car bombs. Result: local hospitals ‘suggest’ greater sensitivity to Muslim eating habits and the BBC cancels a television program depicting more or less what just happened in the street because it might anger the wrong people. Meanwhile writers from France, Britain, and the United States have their work suppressed by a Saudi businessman who doesn’t like unpleasant things said about Muslim charities. Where does it end?
“The dynamics at work here reflect two different cultures operating at such vastly disparate levels, that what one culture thinks it is doing actually registers as the opposite on the other’s perceptual screens. The British think they are being magnanimous by trying not to offend Muslims’ notoriously delicate sensibilities. Muslims who favor Western tolerance may well be impressed with such concerns — like the Muslim students who was amazed that their university put in footbaths for students preparing to pray. But the people who are the most problematic, the Jihadis and their sympathizers, see these concessions as signs of weakness of will.
“And at a fundamental level, the Jihadis are right in their assessment. As often in the case of honor-shame dynamics, people can’t publicly address what motivates them because to admit it would be shameful, so they fill their discourse with rationalizations. When Western intellectuals respond to the violent reactions of Muslims to perceived insults — like Danoongate or the Pope’s remarks — by attacking the cartoonists or the Pope for ‘provoking’ the violence, they essentially side the with aggressors and show not magnanimity but cowardice.”