We will bring down the lightning if you injure anyone who we hold dear.


Fires at the US Embassy in Cairo, Egypt
(Hussein Talal, AP Photo)

We are currently watching the Muslim world catch fire with anti-American frenzy. This is not because of “crusader” aggression. It is not because YouTube has made available some video that hurt somebody’s feelings. It is because within those countries there exists a culture that respects power and a certain amount of ruthlessness and they know they can run riot without any repercussions. Not to put too fine a line on it, but they are doing it for the same reason that a dog licks its hindquarters – because they can. No one is saying that all Muslims are radical or destructive. But if the “moderates” tolerate the evil that is done in the name of Islam by radicals, they are culpable.

General Sir Charles James Napier, the British Army’s Commander-in-Chief in India, notable for conquering the Sindh Province

In contrast, in a culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of “suttee” – the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. General Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural: “You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.” The practice of suttee disappeared almost immediately.

The way to restore balance to the world and to provide stability is for the US to do exactly what Sir Charles did. We must essentially say, you can follow your tradition of riot and rampage whenever you decide the prophet has been insulted (or whatever the grievance du jour is). We will bring down the lightning if you injure anyone who we hold dear. I guarantee they will reconsider targeting an ambassador and his staff.