Last September, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published a dozen cartoons making fun of Islam for its religious intolerance and links to terrorism. Those cartoons have since been reprinted by various newspapers across the world. Muslims have condemned the cartoons; and they've chosen to express their anger at being portrayed as intolerant terrorists by donning masks, grabbing assault rifles, and storming European embassies.
Last year, Newsweek reported that a US soldier had flushed a copy of the Koran down a toilet. The Muslim world erupted in absolute furor. It was a front-page story for several weeks, even in Western newspapers. The entire world was outraged at the purported actions of the United States. Muslim leaders condemned our country. When the report was later shown to be false, there was no apology.
In March 2004, four Americans were ambushed in Iraq, shot, then dragged through the streets, hung from a bridge and burned. The Associated Press printed photographs of the crowd. Iraqi men, women, and children were surrounding the massacre, all of them smiling and all of them cheering. Muslim leaders kept silent.
Muslim "insurgents" routinely kidnap American and European civilians. They demand something in return for the hostages' release, then broadcast a video of each hostage being murdered and decapitated. It's become so common that it barely makes headlines anymore. Muslim leaders keep silent.
Israel lives in a de facto state of war. They're a nation of six million Jews surrounded by 220 million Arabs who want to kill them, and their closest neighbor just elected a terrorist organization devoted to the extermination of Jews to lead its government. Muslim leaders remained silent.
Jay Severin is fond of saying, "Not all Muslims are terrorists. But so far, all the terrorists have been Muslim." He's right. Not all Muslims are terrorists; and generally, I don't believe we can hold religious leaders responsible for the actions of a few fanatics from among a billion worshippers. If those leaders choose to keep silent, so be it. But the moment they join the debate to criticize a cartoon, they lose that privilege and their silence on every other issue becomes fair game.
For the record: Muhammad wasn't simply a prophet. He was a soldier, and Muslims consider his honor to be sacred. If I were going to draw a cartoon lampooning Muhammad's modern image, I might point out that every Muslim terrorist begins his jihad by pulling a ski cap over his head. Even Hitler never wore a mask.