“Whatever else was happening, it was the atheist cartoonists who were performing the religious function and the apparently believing Muslims who had forgotten their deepest religious insights. For any representation of the divine that leads people to murder each other deserves the maximum possible disrespect.” – Giles Fraser, The Guardian
I might be with the writer on this, at least as far as intent goes, if the religious images being disrespected weren’t accompanied by other figures that go along with and help sustain the idolatry of the West. Theologically, though, smashing a false representation, such as the “golden calf” of Moses, must target an operative representation to have any validity, otherwise it’s no more than bait and switch. The operative Theos in Western Europe, including France, has never been the Abrahamic god, it has always been a Roman god as a transformation of the first god of the West, itself necessarily a Greek god. Only in this way could Western reality as such be structured in a fundamentally different manner than the reality of properly Abrahamic peoples. The Abrahamic god has never been more than a cover for the properly Western god, which remains hidden, although not all that well at this point.
Only insofar as that god remains operative are rationality, historicity and literalism possible structures of reality for Western Europeans and their descendants.
In any event, even the ostensible god of Christianity is by no means identical with the other Abrahamic religions, and so as the god of a small, oppressed minority, smashing representations of the Islamic god remains simple bullying of a powerless minority, consistent with the bigoted caricatures of Islamic people, that precisely assists in keeping the idolatry of the West sacrosanct.
In the Western European countries and others whose primary influence is that of Western Europe, reality is experienced as rational, literal and historical, in the sense of already fully constituted in what has been, and as such still present in a specific sense. For this to be an idolatry, rather than a theology, the god that structures, founds such an experience of reality must itself be a false representation. That all representations of god are false is not an insight unique to Abrahamic religion, but is intrinsic in the very notion of the god whose representation was substituted for it, and which substitution itself is the ground of reason, literalism and historicality. The “golden calf” itself of the biblical story is a false representation of this god, not of the Abrahimic god, which demonstrates it as operative in a certain way for the biblical writers themselves.
As Fraser himself notes in another article, the Christian story is the story of god divesting himself of power. In that article he asks “who would follow a powerless god?” More urgently, though, who would raise up a powerless god as if it were not powerless?