Pragmatism: Not Just a Mindset, a Good Idea
A lot of people are carping on Pope Benedict for 'apologizing' to raging Islamic madmen worldwide for completely innocuous (and true) comments made not long ago in a speech in Germany. Before you people start thinking Benedict has a hidden yellow stripe under that robe, there's a few things you need to keep in mind.
Muslim peoples in the developing world aren't happy campers (in case you've forgotten). Religious fanaticism combined with a massive collective chip on their shoulders over perceived slights and systemic oppression (largely by their own totalitarian governments) have created a culture of people who aren't very happy and are very easily set off. By anything. All they need is an excuse to get some of this pent-up rage out of their systems. When they get one? Look out.
That being said, there is no way to satisfy the childish anger of these people. Your only option is to ride out the storm and hope to minimize the trouble along the way. Some of my colleagues in the blogosphere would much rather have preferred Benedict stood up and said "F*** you and your bullshit too." Understandably, the Pope was not going to do this.
Instead, Benedict took the most pragmatic course of action: he expressed his regret that the remarks caused offence, but he did not admit to any wrongdoing, as he had committed none. Doing this takes a large portion of the wind out of the sails of muslim fanatics, as it calms the waters and shortens the life-span of this story in the international media. Out of sight, out of mind.
If Benedict had have gone ahead and remained defiant in the face of these fanatics (as my Catholic pride longed for), things would have gotten very bad very quickly. The simple and sad truth is, more people would die. Benedict was wise to nip this ridiculous and unreasonable muslim response in the bud, any way he could.
So I do think the Pope made a wise decision. However, while Benedict's mouth is bound by the responsibilities of his office, mine is not. To all the Islamofacist terrorists out there who forgot their place and had the audacity to threaten the spiritual leader of my faith with death: Stew in it, you violent animals.