The War of Jenkins’ Ear and the Cartoon Riots

The “long” eighteenth century was a 125 years of warfare between the two European superpowers of the day, Great Britain and France. Spain, who had been reckoned among the superpowers in the sixteenth century, was in decline, yet still able to bite. A good example is the conflict that we know as the War of Jenkins’ Ear (1739-1742/3). This war would lead into the larger conflict known as the War of the Austrian Succession and began when a British naval captain, one Robert Jenkins, claimed that the Spanish had cut off his ear in 1731. He exhibited his loss in the British House of Commons, thereby inflaming public opinion against the Spanish. Somewhat reluctantly but forced to bow to public opinion, the government of the British Prime Minister Robert Walpole, really the first to hold that office, declared war on  October 23,1739. In the last few days we have seen something that has historical parallels—the inflaming of the Muslim public around the world over certain offensive Danish cartoons. In addition to the violence and anger among Muslims, the so-called Cartoon Riots have sparked all kinds of commentary in the West. Two of the most insightful of the latter are here: an article by John Piper on Being Mocked: The Essence of Christ’s Work, Not Muhammad’s and this comment by Russ Moore on Piper’s commentary, Piper on Islamic Cartoon Riots.

For those who have eyes to see, these Cartoon Riots clearly reveal the vast gulf in mindset and praxis between Christianity and Islam!