Mark over at Zenpundit has a nice post on the ongoing ridiculousness which is the Danish cartoon row. Andrew Sullivan has a link to the “extra cartoons” and the lowdown on the apparent propoganda roadshow that has helped bring the issue to the forefront in the Muslim world. For an interesting analysis of the pattern of the protests see ‘Aquol. The discussion of Syria sounds eerily similar to the recent protests in China over Japan and the legacy of WWII. Additionally, while some of the early protest may have been politically orchestrated it seems to have played the role of a spark that is now igniting self-organized protest and government reaction in the Muslim world and in Europe. (Hat tip Dan Nexon for the links.)

I am very disturbed at the extreme reaction and by the fact that many in government (including the US) seem to be caving in (the EU has reportedly floated plans to curb press freedom). I can’t see how anyone can be anything but appalled at the reaction. Death threats, burning of embassies–I really fail to understand how such behavior can be rationalized. Even if you take grave offense, it’s a cartoon, a form of expression (that, by the way, was not intended for offensive purposes but an experiment on self-censorship–and even if it was I still don’t think the reaction has been justified). If people can’t understand or live with the notion that expression and speech are (and should be) protected then I shudder to think what democracy will bring. Yet another reason to promote democratization at a measured pace.

[Update@4:40pm]

It appears the Danish embassy in Beirut has been set ablaze and a mob of protestors has rampaged through a predominantly Christian neighborhood. This is getting scarier by the minute.

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