The lesson of the Muhammad cartoon controversy is Multiculturalism between nations is inevitable, but multiculturalism within nations is disastrous.
Protests, many of them violent, have erupted across the world including Europe, Australia, and New Zealand after the appearance of cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad in unflattering ways.
It's time for all of us to recognize that different cultures have different values. For the West, broadly speaking, the highest value is freedom, including freedom of religious expression. But for the Muslim world, the highest value seems to be Islamic piety. To draw such a distinction between West and East is not to endorse cultural relativism; it's simply to take note of cultural reality.
Not everyone thirsts for liberty. Plenty of people around the world, maybe most, thirst to restrict liberty. And so, if Muslim crowds can't kill the Muhammad-mocking Danish cartoonists for "blasphemy," they will settle for burning Western embassies, at least for now.
Even the government of Afghanistan where Danish forces have contributed to Western "democracy-building" joined in the protests. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who would not be in power save for Western intervention, added his voice to the chorus "Any insult to the Holy Prophet is an insult to more than one billion Muslims, and an act like this must never be allowed to be repeated."
It should be obvious that our effort to influence Muslim public opinion in a positive way has reached a dead end. That is, we advocate democratization but get Islamization. That process empowers the likes of Hamas and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran.
Even Turkey, commonly regarded as the most democratic and pro-American Muslim country, is changing its stance. The hot movie for Turks is titled "Valley of Wolves Iraq." It depicts American soldiers as blood-crazed war criminals. And, as UPI reported, the actor Gary Busey plays a "Jewish-American doctor at Abu Ghraib prison who disembowels innocent Iraqis so their organs can be sold to rich people in New York, London, and Tel Aviv." These Turks are our friends?
And, oh, by the way, another piece of news concerning Western-Muslim relations is worth noting Jamal Badawi, a leader in the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, back in 2000, has "escaped" from his Yemeni prison. We shouldn't hold our breath waiting for his recapture.
Differences between the West and the Muslim world can be chalked up to just that differences. That's the truth about world ethnicity, and no amount of politically correct wishful thinking will change that truth. Countries that ignore that basic lesson of history and political science put themselves at grave risk of internal discord, subversion and civil war. Either a country is united in its common culture or it becomes disunited in its multiculturalism.
For proof, we need only look to Europe, where millions of Muslims have been allowed to immigrate without much thought given to their political and cultural integration into their host societies. In London, Muslims responding to the Danish cartoons chanted pro-jihad slogans and carried signs reading "7/7 is on its way" a reference to the terror bombings last July 7 that killed 52 innocent Britons. That's not free speech; that's incitement to violence. A nation allowing such hostile populations to flourish in its midst is not defending liberty. It is enabling its own national suicide.
Short of worldwide war, followed by occupation, there's not much the West can do about Muslim culture in Muslim lands. That's international multi-culturalism, alas. But on the issue of intra-national multiculturalism, there's plenty we can do. We can monitor, we can insist upon political and cultural assimilation and we can impose strict controls on immigration and travel visas -- down to zero if need be.
We might not be able to change them, but we can keep them from changing us.