Who Will Be Our Franz Ferdinand?
The Muhammad cartoon scandal is a symptom of the fragility, the brittleness of our times. Small, even obscure and seemingly inconsequential events can occasionally have earth-shaking effects. No one in May 1914 would have dreamed that a few gunshots in Sarajevo in June would lead to war in August and 10 million dead in 4 years. The assassination of Franz Ferdinand was merely the spark. The world had been ready and waiting for war. There were too many nations and ethnicities, with complex and intertwining relations to avoid it. People thought war was inevitable someday, just not then, during that beautiful summer.
Our world now is very brittle. The cartoon jihad has now burned down embassies in Syria, the Danish consolate in Beruit, and a murdered Catholic priest in Turkey (this cannot yet be directly related to the cartoons but a week of worldwide incitement to murder cannot have gone unnoticed in Muslim Turkey).
The riots and mob violence from Jakarta to London are not spontaneous events. They are the results of a well-coordinated campaign to mobilize Muslims by manufacturing rage and murderous anger. But now events are close to spiraling out of control. For example, any Syrian government involvement in the embassy attacks is a declaration of war against the nations whose embassies were destroyed. If proven or even widely believed the Syrian regime, already under pressure for murdering two opponents, will fall. Who knows where this could lead?
The effects of the Danish cartoons could plunge a region or the world into a war everyone knows is coming someday but not today. Things are so brittle that all it takes is the right assassination, the right murder, the right suicide bombing to signal the start of the titanic struggle of our age. Who will be our Franz Ferdinand, the one death that leads to so very many more?
To switch metaphors, the world is piled high with dry kindling and the Muslim world has responded to some cartoons by trying to strike sparks. Be careful boys. You're likely to get burned.