Even the bravado I mentioned above is a funny kind. Artificial. It involves a deliberate and pointless courting of danger. Really, it's likely that the vice of rashness is far more on display here than the virtue of courage.
I'm not for a moment suggesting that there is something wrong with confronting Islamism. The problem with this art show isn't that it attempted to confront Islamism. The problem is that it did so in a silly way. There are, however, virtuous ways to confront Islamism. As in every other case, the examples of the saints can be our guide.
St. Francis's way to confront Islamism was to walk through the lines of the Crusaders and preach the Gospel to the Sultan.
St. Thomas's way was to argue with real charity and precision against their philosophers.
St. Louis's way was to take up the sword. It may be fashionable to condemn the Crusades, but the truth is that sometimes fighting is indeed called for. It was only the presence of courageous armed men that stopped these terrorists from successfully committing their mass murder.
Courage is a virtue, which, as Aristotle tells us, is a mean. Courage is the mean that falls between rashness on one side, and cowardice on the other. It's always difficult to find the mean. Perhaps we should start the search with prayer and fasting.
Edit: This is an art blog, not a current events or social commentary blog. So I was prompted to write this post really only because of the Rockwell parody. (Note the title, which I never got around to changing once the piece grew bigger than I had first intended!) Anyway, as I mentioned in the post itself, I haven't done a lot of reading about the event, and was frankly largely unaware of all the chatter out there. So just a few minutes ago, I happened across an article that I wanted to mention quickly.
The author, Robert Spencer, decries some of the calls for legal limits on free speech that are coming out as a result of this terrorist attack. I join him in that. When I say that the art show was a monumentally bad idea, the very last thing that I mean to say is that there ought to be some government agency involving itself in overseeing such matters. As I said at the outset, artists have every right to make images mocking Islam or anything else they choose. Eviscerating the First Amendment in order to appease Islamists is not one of the paths I suggested. (It's a path of cowardice, in fact.)