These are not demonstrations against free speech. They are the expression of a rage over what is percieved as Western attitudes toward Islam and the Muslim world in particular, and in general toward the entire nonWestern world.
The demonstrations are indicative of the extent to which we are living in an integrated, singular global society. To grasp what I mean by this, see the books Empire and Multitude by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, for starters. It is a global society in which nation-states increasingly act as the administrative units of a global governmental structure. People only get this upset and rebel in these numbers when they have something legitimate to gripe about. As the political philosopher Spinoza wrote, people don't get rebellious because they are wicked and evil; they get uppity when government has failed them, immiserating them. Local governments throughout the Muslim world have failed their peoples, and often in no small part because of Western design, or the consequences thereof.
Thus, there is much, much more to the Muslim world's outrage than religion.
This is a wake up call to the global elites that run the world economy and what one could call the world government that is on par with the wake up call that French elites recently recieved.
I am not in favor of radical Islam in any way, no more than I am in favor of the truly fundamentalist and ideologically-driven Bush administration. This is, as Tariq Ali put it, NOT a clash of civilizations, but a clash of fundamentalisms. The truth of everyday people AS ALWAYS lies in between, and there is much more to their rage than religion.
Thus, as always, one is a fool to think in terms of "them." "They do this," "they do that." Reality is far too complex to be reduced into us v. them. Emotionally shallow people suffering a poverty of genuine spiritual understanding think in such narrows ways and divide the world thusly.
I am as mad at the Bush administration and plenty of fundamentalist Christians for making a mockery of the teachings of Christ by turning his message into a justification for warmongering as one should be about the perversion of Muhammed's teachings.
Instead of condemning the protestors, the offenders should be looking into themselves to see what they have done that has caused the harm and rage. The indeed great teacher that was Jesus, that character being trumpeted as one of the founders of "Western Civilization," never said that it was OK to offend or to provoke.
No matter the target, no matter the means, war is just war: terror. Why else was the attack called "shock and awe?" What is terror? Shock (over the violence) and Awe (over the power). Innocent people die. No warrior is innocent. No war is ever truly justified. War spoils all; winner and loser all are victims.
Both the real Jesus and the real Muhammed taught this lesson. Warmongerers among both their followers make a mockery of their teaching.
Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone (in judgment).
The Danish newspaper has in the past declined to print images equally as offensive to Christians as these ones have proven to be to Muslims.
How about being mad as hell at the double standard behind that?
Maybe that's the whole point behind the rage: the double standards at the heart of the Western-led New World Order?