When a spoiled toddler doesn’t get his own way, he throws a fit. You don’t correct this bad behavior by sympathizing with the toddler and telling him that you understand how mean life is and how it hurts if someone does something he doesn’t like, but (at the end of a lot of sympathy) it’s really not acceptable to throw yourself on the ground and scream at the top of your lungs in public. Unless you unequivocally make it clear that pitching a fit is not an acceptable reaction no matter what the provocation, then the toddler will continue to throw fits, the fits will generally get worse, and the toddler will become accustomed to using his behavior to get his own way.
What happens when spoiled children are adults? The extremist Muslims who attacked us on September 11 a couple of days ago, burning our flag and replacing our flag with an extremist Muslim flag in Egypt, and using rocket-launched grenades and assault weapons before torching our diplomatic post in Libya, are like spoiled toddlers. A movie was made which displeased them, so they pitched a fit. Unfortunately, this fit involved dangerous weapons, torching buildings, and explosions, which ultimately caused the death of 4 Americans.
Just as you don’t stop toddlers from throwing fits by reasoning with them, you don’t stop extremist Muslims from rioting and murdering by telling them that you understand their feelings are hurt because someone made fun of Mohammed. When the restlessness started, our Embassy in Cairo issued a statement which actually contained the words “hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.” This probably fueled the flames of resentment because it reinforced their sense of being wronged.
I am frankly sick about hearing about the “hurt feelings” of Muslims, as if they were children who need to be coddled for bad behavior. If they want to riot because of what happens half a world away from them, I suppose that’s their business, but they need to learn to stop taking it out on the rest of the world, especially us. This isn’t the first time that riots have ensued after someone insulted Mohammed or Islam. I’m sick of our government expressing more concern about the “hurt feelings” of Muslim extremists than vocalizing a defense of the right of Americans to express an opinion.
I’m also upset at being told that we just need to reach out and understand Islam by people who make statements that clearly display their ignorance of the religion. Our embassy in Cairo included this in their statement of appeasement when things started to get heated about a film made in the US by a US citizen: “We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”
This statement displays such a gross misunderstanding of Islam (and the world in general) that it is embarrassing. There is no “universal right of free speech,” especially in the Muslim world. Shariah law dictates that where Islam and Mohammed are concerned, free speech does not only take a back seat on the bus, it’s not allowed on the bus at all. In our system, free speech rights trump; in the Muslim system, free speech is often criminal behavior (and they are trying to have this imposed in the world at large through a UN resolution criminalizing “defamation of religion”). Our right to free speech was unique in the world when we codified it, it remains a rarity in the world as a whole, and the strong enforcement of this right within our borders is part of what constitutes American exceptionalism even today. It is not a “universal right” recognized in most parts of the world.
A senior public affairs officer is being made the fall guy for the statement that was issued on the embassy website. There is a plausible story of how he was told NOT to do what he did anyway. Of course, being made the fall guy doesn’t mean that he’s being demoted or discharged. It’s just that now that the misguided PR guy has been identified, no one can attribute responsibility to anyone in charge. Obama and Hillary can be critical of the statement since it has proved unpopular without being accused of talking out of both sides of their mouths. If it was really such an objectionable move and he disobeyed orders to refrain from posting his statement on the website, why is the guy not joining the ranks of the unemployed in this country? I would be willing to bet that among the ranks of the long-time unemployed, there are many qualified candidates who would jump at the job, even though it is in a chaotic hot spot.
I am also disturbed by the attitude that concerns about Muslim extremism are overblown. After all, this riot was “over there” and not here, right? It’s not going to happen in America—they can’t get a foothold here. The American Revolution came about because of a few extremists, and their dream was even more far-fetched because what they had in mind had never been done before. Muslim theocracies abound in this world, so the Muslim dream of of a widespread, even worldwide, caliphate is not nearly as far-fetched. I know that there are millions of decent, law-abiding, non extremist Muslims in the world. I have had Muslim friends, and I know they are not all saints or all devils, just like in any group that exists in the world. However, the non-extremists are not currently determining the direction of Islam in this world; the minority is setting the path.
It is important to realize that these riots and murders in Egypt and Libya are the result not of Americans committing any kind of illegal act on any Muslim soil. They resulted from the exercise of free speech on our own soil, under our own laws. The violence is not intended to control the behavior of citizens in their own country, but to control the behavior of citizens in the United States of America. Having our government sympathize with the extremists and internationally trash Americans who are simply exercising their Constitutional rights is not the way to reduce the number of incidents. Anyone who doesn’t understand that doesn’t understand where things are headed.
The real irony in the situation is that the movie which purportedly stirred up all of the spoiled adult children appears (from the video clips) to be a juvenile, unprofessional spoof, not worthy of the three and a half minutes that it took to watch the two trailers, much less the fourteen minutes that it would take to watch the whole thing. How any adult could get their feelings hurt over it is a mystery.
Voltaire famously said:
“I disagree strongly with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
There is now a twisted version of this as demonstrated by radical Muslims:
“I strongly disagree with and/or find distasteful what you say, and expect you to pay the penalty of death if you exercise your right to say it.”
These two approaches are mutually exclusive. We need to take a much stronger stand for our approach, or we will surely lose it.