- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 9, 2006

Contemplate this: A Danish newspaper in September publishes some cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. Four months later Muslims, mostly Arab, get wind of it and riot, burning Danish flags, and attacking embassies, mostly Danish, but thus far also an Austrian Embassy.

Apparently geography is one of many subjects not studied very attentively in Arab schools. In any event, as the riots intensify, local governments apparently can do nothing.

Most, like Syria’s government, are famously repressive. Yet they are impotent against the dirty-necked galoots burning flags and howling in their cities’ streets. Some governments issue diplomatic demands to the Danish government.

Here is the kicker. From Tehran comes word that Iran’s best-selling newspaper, Hamshahri, has announced a cartoon competition to find the best cartoon about the Holocaust. You might well ask: How did the Holocaust become entoiled in this controversy? What do 6 million murdered Jews have to do with Danish cartoonists depicting a Prophet who lived 1,400 years ago? Officials at the Iranian newspaper also dragged America and Israel into their rants. Are America and Israel the real powers behind Denmark?

Analysis of this irrational outburst will continue for weeks. Already the point has been made there are depictions of the prophet Muhammad in museums throughout the world and many were created by pious Muslims. So the claims it is sacrilegious to depict the prophet are nonsense.

And the point has been made that throughout Islam’s long history Muslims have joked about religion. So the claims it is sacrilegious to joke about Islam are nonsense.

Other earnest analysts will tussle with the chronology of these events, the persona involved and their various explications of the cartoons, of the demonstrations, and, who knows, possibly of the attack on the Austrian Embassy.

Back in Tehran, Hamshahri’s editors might wonder aloud: “Did not the demonstrators know that the Austrian Embassy is sacred soil? Was not the late Adolf Hitler an Austrian before he met his 72 maidens?”

But there is a larger matter to contend with as mobs of young men rage through the streets, even trying to mount protests in places such as London: Islam, particularly as practiced in Arab countries, embraces a vast number of very angry young men.

The Islamicist agitators have two sources of power: the lone terrorist willing to blow himself up, and the mob of young men willing to riot. On these two instrumentalities the Islamicist leaders rely to acquire influence and power.

These two instrumentalities are alarming, but take heart. They are also the conditions of a decadent, dysfunctional culture. Death and destruction do not create civilizations or prosperous societies or even a conquering army. Frankly, though I am no theologian, I doubt they can create heaven on Earth. They are the death rattle of a dead culture.

Why so many of the countries dominated by Islam are in such a heap is a good question. Economists claim Islam does not encourage entrepreneurship. Neoconservatives argue these countries have been denied democracy by the rule of tyrants.

And there are sociologists who perceive a deeper cause, the ancient patriarchy of these countries. In places such as Syria, which is mostly Arab, and Iran, which is not, old men rule their families and their clans. They keep women and girls in the background. They keep young men in inferior status, despite the young men’s talents and energies. The consequence is a lot of angry, frustrated young men. Such young men are available for riot at the drop of a… well, at the drop of a cartoon.

Whether the economists are right or the neocons or the sociologists, or any other gogues that might offer up an analysis, one thing is eminently clear: The peoples in such a rage over Danish cartoonists are a deeply troubled people. They are incapable of reason or even of governing themselves. They are the enemy of civilization, whether it be Western civilization or some civilized order that might emerge in the Middle East.

I hope Europeans who have been so critical of our military action in Iraq and Afghanistan take note. The Islamofascists are as great a danger as was Adolf Hitler, who left Europe in the kind of desolate chaos the Islamofascists adumbrate.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of the American Spectator, a contributing editor to the New York Sun and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. His latest book is “Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.”

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