Their fanning-the-fire writings were necessary.
From the National Ross Douthat:
But if publishing something might get you slaughtered and you publish it anyway, by definition you are striking a blow for freedom, and that’s precisely the context when you need your fellow citizens to set aside their squeamishness and rise to your defense.
Whereas far too often in the West today the situation is basically reversed: People will invoke free speech to justify just about any kind of offense or provocation or simple exploitation (“if we don’t go full-frontal seven times on ‘Game of Thrones’ tonight, man, the First Amendment dies”), and then scurry for cover as soon as there’s a whiff of actual danger, a hint that “bold” envelope-pushing might require actual bravery after all.
The idea that we need to tone down our speech/writing/atristic expression due to THREATS is the most profoundly ILliberal idea I've ever heard. Should our people generally accept and tolerate other religions? Yes. But NOT because they threaten to kill us if we do not. That threat, alone, would make them a fair target for ridicule, criticism, and contempt.