I am stunned.
Stunned that our government would betray its own Constitution to side with our enemies.
Stunned that they did this on 9/11, of all days.
Stunned that a culture remains so backward in the 21st century that an embarrassingly amateurish home movie actually poses a threat to their fragile worldview.
And most of all stunned that our government’s betrayal of its own nation isn’t dominating the news and the public consciousness.
The story has come out in fits and starts, so many people haven’t yet pieced together the whole narrative. To clear everything up, here’s everything that has happened thus far, chronologically:
Two Egyptian Coptic Christians, fleeing persecution from Islamic oppression, emigrated to America. Once here, they hooked up with Qur’an-burning preacher Terry Jones and made an amateur video dramatizing crimes against Copts in Egypt, which transitions mid-way through into a serio-comic mockery of Mohammed.
The movie is so bad, on every level — bad script, bad acting, ludicrous set design, weird overdubbed audio, laughable special effects — that it would barely get a passing grade in a high school video production class. But apparently it was on par with professional Egyptian productions, because when a 14-minute trailer appeared on YouTube, Egyptian media and Egyptian fundamentalist imams seized on it, made a dubbed Arabic version, and whipped up the Muslim populace by showing the clip over and over. The entire nation of Egypt took it very seriously.
Here’s the original English version — imagine taking this as a legitimate and serious threat to your existence:
As you’ve surely heard by now, Muslim preachers chose today, 9/11, to incite the faithful to storm the U.S. embassy in Cairo; for the first time ever, Islamic protesters breached the fortress-like walls of the embassy, tore down the American flag, and replaced it with an al-Qaeda flag.
And what was the American government’s response to this?
To condemn the Christians who made the film and to reject the principles of the First Amendment (I took a screenshot just in case):
Here’s the text, with the key portions highlighted:
U.S. Embassy Condemns Religious Incitement
September 11, 2012
The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.
Twice in the official statement (and once more in the headline) the State Department criticizes the Christians who made the film — not the people who committed an act of war against us by invading U.S. sovereign territory (the embassy). This is simply beyond the pale.
I thought we had resolved this issue years ago: The concept of “freedom of speech” is absolute, and if you start restricting speech based on political considerations, or because someone takes offense, then it is not free at all. The very point behind guaranteeing free speech is to protect controversial speech. One doesn’t need a constitution to protect people’s right to say “Have a nice day.”
And yet here is our own government granting a bullies’ veto to our sworn enemies. And it’s no laughing matter when our government says it “condemns” and “firmly rejects” something; it has the power to enforce those opinions. It’s one thing for an essentially powerless private individual to say he doesn’t like something; it’s quite another for that opinion to be backed by the full force of the government.