Former President Bill Clinton, in an interview taped Monday yet aired today on CBS, countered outcry over the anti-Muhammad film by stressing that one can’t live in a “shame-based society.”
“We weren’t disrespecting Islam by not squelching a film trailer that nobody in authority knew anything about, that 99 percent think was crude and disrespectful and awful; but that we have learned the hard way over more than 200 years that in order to preserve freedom and liberty, including the freedom of religion, you have to allow people to say and do things that you find abhorrent, and you can’t react every time you’re insulted,” Clinton said.
“The point is, if you live in a shame-based society where you think nothing good’s going to happen, the temptation is to wait for somebody to say something you find offensive and then you can lash out against it.”
Clinton acknowledged that “Americans don’t understand all Muslim countries as well as we should.”
“But they need to understand us and themselves. You cannot live in a shame-based world. You won’t make it in the 21st century,” he said.
“You’ve got to be able to say, if you believe in Islam that I believe in a God and a prophet strong enough to withstand the criticisms of petty, narrow-minded, mean-spirited people, I believe that the cultural crassness I abhor will, in the end, fall before the values that I exalt.”