Ever since 9/11, every time some place or another on the planet has been struck by a major jihadist act, the mainstream media have reliably come out with stories about “backlash” against Muslims. Not accounts of actual backlash, mind you, but pieces in which various academics, public officials, Muslim leaders, and other sensitive souls have been described as wringing their hands over the dreaded possibility that some of us boorish infidels might respond to this latest action by going on the warpath against innocent Muslims. If these “backlash” articles have been such a staple of post-9/11 journalism, it’s obviously because they’ve offered the media an opportunity to focus not on the innumerable Muslim-on-infidel atrocities that have actually taken place but, rather, on hypothetical, and violent, infidel-on-Muslim responses – and thus to persist in casting Muslims in the role of victim, even while the bodies of those they have slaughtered in Islam’s name have yet to go cold.
Yet the fabled “backlash” has never really materialized – not, at least, on anything remotely resembling the scale that the media have repeatedly predicted. On the contrary, with a very small number of minor, isolated exceptions, people in the non-Muslim world have routinely responded to Muslim violence with civilized restraint. Indeed, it’s hard to think of anything that more dramatically reflects the difference between the Islamic and Western cultures than the contrast between the brutality and scale of the jihadist attacks on the West in recent years and the extraordinarily low level and modest scale of actions taken against Muslim targets in revenge. This refusal of non-Muslims to take an eye-for-an-eye approach in response to jihadist acts is a remarkable testament to the native tolerance of Christians, Jews, and other non-Muslims – and, indeed, to the black-and-white distinction between pretty much every other religion in the world and Islam, which, alone among major faiths, instructs its adherents to see offense everywhere and to respond even to the merest cartoon with murderous violence on a global scale.