Germans Avoid Collective Guilt


Early this morning, Tim Cavanaugh announced, "I've got a hunch that the In-toon-fadah is winding down." In fact, there were hopeful signs as early as last Thursday. According to Agence France-Presse (by way of The New York Times), "two masked gunmen" in Nablus "kidnapped a German from a hotel, thinking he was French or Danish….They turned him over to the police once they realized their mistake."

The gunmen may not have grasped the distinction between speech and violence, or between a private Danish newspaper and the Danish government, or between the Danish government and the Danish people (every last one of them, including random tourists and, presumably, babies born after the offending cartoons were published). But they drew the line at punishing Germans for something Danes had done. Although I'm not sure why citizens of France get more blame than citizens of Germany, since papers in both countries reprinted the unflattering portraits of Muhammad, this has got to count as progress of a sort. Likewise, since a paper in the Netherlands ran the cartoons, it was surprisingly open-minded for demonstrators in Beirut to beat a Dutch photographer only because they "mistook him for being Danish."