As the Muslim protests subside, more and more people have come to realize that what seems to have sparked them--one of the worst YouTube videos ever, which is saying something--isn't what they were mainly about.
But what were they about? Here theories differ, and some of the best theories haven't been getting much attention, because they're not on the talking-points agendas of Democrats or Republicans--which means they won't be occupying much airtime on network or cable TV during an election campaign.
Ross Douthat, writing in Sunday's New York Times, embraces a theory that's true insofar as it goes: these protests often got a boost from local political jostling. For example, in Egypt the struggle "between the Muslim Brotherhood and its more-Islamist-than-thou rivals" is what led those rivals (Salafis) to call protestors onto the streets.
Fine, but since people aren't sheep (though they sometimes do a good imitation), we have to ask why the protestors responded to such calls in Egypt and elsewhere--and why sometimes the crowds swelled.