Charles Krauthammer wrote an excellent article in The Washington Post about the Muslim ire over Pope Benedict’s quoting of a 14th century emperor about Islam. It’s a short read, but here’s the beginning to tantalize you.

Religious fanatics, regardless of what name they give their jealous god, invariably have one thing in common: no sense of humor. Particularly about themselves. It’s hard to imagine Torquemada taking a joke well.

Today’s Islamists seem to have not even a sense of irony. They fail to see the richness of the following sequence. The pope makes a reference to a 14th-century Byzantine emperor’s remark about Islam imposing itself by the sword, and to protest this linking of Islam and violence:

* In the West Bank and Gaza, Muslims attack seven churches.

* In London, the ever-dependable radical Anjem Choudary tells demonstrators at Westminster Cathedral that the pope is now condemned to death.

* In Mogadishu, Somali religious leader Abubukar Hassan Malin calls on Muslims to “hunt down” the pope. The pope not being quite at hand, they do the next best thing: shoot dead, execution-style, an Italian nun who worked in a children’s hospital.

“How dare you say Islam is a violent religion? I’ll kill you for it” is not exactly the best way to go about refuting the charge. But of course, refuting is not the point here. The point is intimidation.

First Salman Rushdie. Then the false Newsweek report about Koran-flushing at Guantanamo Bay. Then the Danish cartoons. And now a line from a scholarly disquisition on rationalism and faith given in German at a German university by the pope.

And the intimidation succeeds: politicians bowing and scraping to the mob over the cartoons; Saturday’s craven New York Times editorial telling the pope to apologize; the plague of self-censorship about anything remotely controversial about Islam — this in a culture in which a half-naked pop star blithely stages a mock crucifixion as the highlight of her latest concert tour.

Back in the later 80s a common BBS tagline I used when talking religion was “Believe in a loving god, infidel, or die!” This has left the realm of humor and has become a statement of fact, thanks to the knee-jerk reaction by Muslims.

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