Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Collateral damage

Two bits of prevailing wisdom are in the air this week following the Charlie Hebdo attack. First, there is the usual reminder that last week's attack is the product of a violent minority within Islam was not endorsed by a vast majority of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims. Second, that the magazine understandably put a cartoon of Mohammad on its first post-massacre cover to show the attackers that it could not be cowed by violence. Those two are not just prevailing wisdom, they are also both things that I agree with.

But aren't those two ideas in conflict with one another? If we also recognize that quite a lot of Muslims, well beyond the violent minority, are offended by any depiction of the Prophet Mohammad, then isn't the magazine's attempt to thumb its nose at the people who attacked it also thumbing a lot of people who are not responsible for that attack?