A reaction that is worst than the cartoonish insult
It seems that the "civilized" people in the developed world (the West) must always have some other race or group of people to pick on, torture, burn, or bury in mass graves. In the past few centuries it was mostly the Jews, but now it is mostly the Arabs and Muslims. As a result of the holocaust and the sequelae of WW-II and the rising influence of American Jews, persecuting Jews was no longer an option.
The search for a suitable victim-race was in earnest when the tragedy of 9-11 occurred, a destructive act of terrorism conceived and executed by a bunch of deranged "muslim" fanatics who had obviously undergone a thorough brainwashing. Since that point the targeting of Arabs and Muslims (or anyone that fits the physical profile) became acceptable regardless of their citizenship or where they lived. As always it is first necessary to dehumanize and demonize the new enemy. This is accomplished using the usual tools, primarily the media including the movies, but also newspapers and cartoons. The cartoons in question are the Scandinavian contribution to this western endeavor, because as I have already pointed out, these cartoons have no moral or political or social value to convey to the Scandinavian citizen or to muslims worldwide. The only apparent purpose was to mock and provoke for the purpose of demonizing and dehumanizing the new enemy.
Unfortunately, Muslims these days are their own worst enemies. In my view, the most effective response to these cartoons was simply to ignore them totally and completely, without however losing sight of the more important aspects of the relationships between the Muslims and Europe or between Muslims and the US, and that is the actual practical policies of these governments and how they affect the lives of Muslims and their most dear causes. The most important of these causes is DEMOCRACY and FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Hypocritical European and American leaders who preach democracy while at the same time sponsor and support the dictators in Muslim nations should have caused Muslims to demonstrate day and night all over the world to expose and condemn their hypocracy and force them to stop propping these decaying despots.
Instead, local dictators as well as Western leaders exploited these violent demonstrations for their own political purposes. Gadhafi, for instance, withdraw his ambassodor from Copenhagen to show that he has the fortitude to stand up to an European country in an attempt to compensate for his total capitulation to the US & the UK over the past three years. Whereas, the Bush administration is using this issue to intensify its pressure on both Iran and Syria.
The violent demonstrations that were supposedly spontaneous and provoked by the publication of these cartoons serve only to strengthen the steotypes of the backward and violent muslim that are promoted by the Westren media, not to mention the fact that this irrational reaction is contrary to the true Islamic tradition of tolerance.
In addition, this reaction betrays a great deal of insecurity on part of the demonstrating muslims. A nation confident and secure in its values and faith would not be shaken so violently by mere drawings on disposable paper that would be eventually recycled into toilet paper.