And quit going on about the stupid video.
What some consider the most blasphemous piece of art of modern times – that crucifix immersed in a jar of the artist’s urine – went back on display last week at the Edward Tyler Gallery in Manhattan. Mobs of howling Christians did not storm the museum. Also last week, Iranian President Ahmadinejad made it clear in his vile United Nations speech that his goal is the destruction of Israel. Hordes of offended Jews did not take to the streets to call for his beheading.
How remarkable. Free speech and the free exercise of religion can co-exist. They are not mutually exclusive. There is no such thing as a right to not be offended. Unless, of course, the religion in question is Islam, especially as practiced by its most murderous fanatics. Those who count on our cowardly political class to confront that extremism boldly and honestly are bound to be disappointed.
It has been nearly three weeks since four Americans, including ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, were killed in a terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi. Some officials still cravenly insist on making the murders somehow less offensive to humanity than the making of a video making fun of Mohammad that supposedly “caused” the sometimes-violent anti-American protests that have been roiling the Mideast. “A” says something “B” finds insulting, so “B” shoots “C” in response. We blame “A” more than “B”? In what moral universe is that not despicable?
Of course the video had nothing at all to do with the Libyan uprising. It was just a useful excuse for the al-Qaida Libyan affiliate that had carefully planned the whole thing as a reminder on 9/11 that the West was still on the not-to-be-tolerated list. Everyone is so used to idea that Islamic fundamentalists might take murderous revenge for the slightest offense that it was sure to be effective.
Our leaders certainly obliged. At least the White House has stopped sending out people to keep pointing out that the United States had nothing whatsoever to do with the video (so please don’t hurt us, OK?). But even as late as last week during his own U.N. speech, Obama felt compelled to mention the “crude and disgusting video” with a message that should be “rejected by all who value our common humanity.”
One great difference between Muslim and the American tradition is the view of the relationship of government and religion – they believe the two are intertwined, we insist they be kept separate. Shouldn’t someone be saying that, in the meantime also defending free speech instead of apologizing for it? The fanatics are fighting us because they don’t like our values. How hard do they have to fight if we won’t even stand up for those values?