Um, I sort of kicked off a hijack there. If it's better to relocate the Islam stuff, I won't mind.
I'm still very skeptical of the assertion that
"hundreds of millions" of Muslims are calling for bombings, etc. I think that is confusing the actions of a minority, with a sense of injustice and/or insecurity among some many millions at some level.
Zak, I do think you're correct when you gather that lots of people have a certain level of sympathy toward the few who do go and blow things up. We could say much the same about the Christian right in American politics, speaking generally. People waving signs about "God sent the killer" to the abortion clinic, etc. In both cases, relatively few violent actors. Likewise: a minority among conservatives staving off gay marriage by insisting on hateful hyper-manliness and towing out the same old claims about "weak" minorities and unrealistic pedophile drama.
As for embassy attacks. It only takes one good crowd of highly motivated people to stone, etc. a building on their own turf. What is required is for them to feel its their turf (very important), and that they demand for apparently unfair guests to take notice they've done something locally explosive (this is also for local consumption, not entirely a message to the embassy). Meanwhile: Western police forces have variously smacked, tear gassed, or incarcerated and harassed many protestors at things like the Republican National Convention and G-8 summits. Many of these people are non-violent, but the police claim they must do it for the protection of property and order. The people's taxes can pay for illegal actions of the police later. Now, who's to say "democracy in the streets" is more just when a culture expects only the police forces to show anger? Show me that popular protests in the streets of the Middle East, particularly the ones with fires and violence (not just the right-wing orchestrated burning of American flags), are all about groundswells of support for Al Qaeda, etc. I suspect they have more to do with gross inequalities. My bet is the really violent ones have generally met with brutal state responses: gas, guns, and cages.
Yes, there is more generalized
upset and antipathy toward the US/West from many people in states grossly disrupted by social impacts of "modernity" aka shock exposure to Western business (Saudi Arabia). Or those where the US has sponsored tyrants (Iran) or thrown fuel on the fire of regional wars (Afghanistan) for decades. Not to mention the legacy of colonialism (say, Algeria) or foreign military aid for an evolving occupation (Palestine).
Despite all that, I don't see clear evidence that so many people are really calling for outright violence
. It seems to me you're actually concerned about antipathy - or yes, in some cases, sympathy - toward people whose violence is often for symbolic ends. That is not the same picture as so many people demanding violence or even believing it's useful or desirable. I also don't see a clear overlap between your millions of people and any platform to forcefully convert the West. Quite a few could
say, "Your policies killed my father [insert appropriate figure(s) here]" or have clearly said "Get your troops/paws off my country/women." Sometimes frustrating, yes, but hardly what you suggest.
As far as people feeling upset or antipathy and expressing that in what are culturally strong ways: Fires and scuffles in the streets over there... Much the same as calls for murder over here. And often, for wholesale treatment of little-known foreign regimes as "Nazis." They're both displays for internal and insider politics, too. They don't reflect what most of the speakers actually would do themselves. These outpourings can hint at what is bothering people about their world, though. If you take some quiet time to look at the history of all the screaming. If you assume most people or too many people are screaming for that, then you'll miss it. And then, it's easy to issue blank checks for more of those policies that make still more people justly upset, and a few mad.
Just one book review from 1999, but much of it seems pertinent. Fewer Christian group bombings, perhaps. But all the same sort of calling for death and mayhem. The same as the few on the far end of the Islamic spectrum, that is. It is not all the Christians nor all the Muslims, nor most as far as I can tell.http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0SOR/is_2_60/ai_55208526/