Via a commenter on Brad DeLong's blog, this excellent opinion piece in the Boston Globe re the Danish cartoon violence and its overall context:
Boston Globe - Misunderstanding Muslims: The economics of oil, including the creation of an oppressive local class of Western-sponsored oligarchs, locked the grievous insult in place. As if to be sure it was more sharply felt than ever, Europe imported ''guest workers" from the Islamic world, openly consigning them to an underclass that is as religiously defined as it is permanent.
And then the United States launched its wars. One of the major disconnects in the present conflict is the way in which European and American analysis obsesses with the apparently anarchic outbursts of violence in the ''Arab street" without taking in how brutally violent the post-9/11 ''coalition" assault has been, not only physically but psychologically.
Mobs throw stones through the windows of European consulate offices, and the legion of CNN watchers recoils with horror. Meanwhile, unmanned drones fly across stretches of desert to drop loads of fire on the heads of subsistence farmers in their villages; children die, but CNN is not there.
Billions of dollars are being poured each month into the project of imposing an American solution on an Arab problem, and increasingly the solution looks, from the other side, like annihilation. Muslims, that is, understand the new reality far better than non-Muslims do -- the state of open cultural warfare that ''the West" imagines is a narrowly targeted war against ''terrorism." Muslims, as Muslims, experience themselves as on the receiving end of a savage -- but, alas, not unprecedented -- assault.
Are they wrong? In the argument over ''Enlightenment" values, sparked by the cartoons, some champions of free expression have fallen into the deadly old mistake that led, in the 20th century, to a grotesque betrayal of those very values -- the over-under ranking of human beings, with the lives of some being counted as cheap.
Why are we killing them? As with multiple problems today, this one comes back to the misbegotten American war. It threatens to ignite the century, and must be stopped.
Like I've been saying---abstract worries over Free Speech are a luxury that is, in any case, a red herring.