Claudia Rosset succintly nails the pathology behind the overblown offense taken to comments by the Pope:
"It’s a good rule of thumb that there is no one more easily offended than your average despot and surrounding acolytes. Tyranny by nature requires grand fictions, and when anyone dares point out that the emperor has no clothes, or the emperor is living it up while dressing his minions in suicide belts, or the emperor is murdering his own subjects and honing technologies and methods to blackmail, subjugate or kill anyone else in reach, then the emperor and his cohorts take huge offense. If you happen to live under their sway, they chuck you in prison. If you are outside the immediate reach of their secret police and terror squads, they do what they can to maneuver the debate onto their terms. They — who apologize for nothing — demand apologies."
UPDATE 9/19/06 12:40pm:
Mike Rappaport expands on the theme:
"As a promoter and beneficiary of modernity, I feel bad for those stuck in the middle ages. Not only are they led to do evil things, but it all seems very confusing for them. After all, they must mix modern claims of victimhood with medievil charges of blasphemy. It is hard to keep your stories straight, as the above quote ['anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence'] suggests.
It kind of reminds me of a weird movie I saw some years back. About ten peasants from Europe during the black death dug through a hole and came out in 20th century Australia. It was all very confusing for them. But no one thought of allowing them to get nuclear weapons."
UPDATE 9/19/06 12:55pm:
More good stuff from John Hinderacker:
"The Pope can perhaps be excused for thinking that Islam can be associated with violence. He probably took it personally when an Islamic terrorist group plotted to assassinate his predecessor. If the Vatican ever starts assassinating imams, then they'll really have something to protest."
Along the same lines, Ed Morrissey notes that the truth of the passage is self-evident:
"People use words to criticize Islam; Muslims use stones, fire, and eventually bombs to protest back. When was the last time Christians threw firebombs at a mosque to protest Muslim imams characterizing Christianity as polytheistic? When have we seen Jews firebomb mosques for Muslim leaders calling them the descendants of pigs and monkeys, a common insult from both religious and secular Muslims in the Middle East? Muslims have proven Benedict prophetic, and don't think for a moment that this wave of violence has peaked."