Secretary of State John Kerry told an audience of German youths today that Americans have “a right to be stupid.”
Kerry did the townhall-style forum in Berline, his second stop on a nine-country tour, for Facebook TV, and kicked it off by showing off his German after the moderator asked him how he felt.
“Sehr gut, danke. Alles gut. Deine schuhe sind fantastisch, ja?” the secretary of State said. (Translation: “Very good, thank you. All is well. Your shoes are fantastic.”)
A question was posed to Kerry by a member of JUMA, a group for young Muslims in Germany.
“I want to know what comes into your mind when you hear and see people like me, young Muslim adolescents in Germany. What comes into your mind? And do you see a difference about Muslim teenagers in Germany and Muslim teenagers in America?” the teen asked.
“I don’t know enough about Muslim teenagers in Germany to tell you. I mean, I just don’t know enough about that,” Kerry replied. “But if they’re like you, here asking a question, standing up in public, and inquiring about the possibilities and working as a member of JUMA and being part of this effort to try to reach out and talk about a different kind of future, if you’re – if they’re like that, and I think they are, then you have a lot in common. Because in America, we have total – occasionally, you have – I can’t tell you that a hundred percent – sometimes you have somebody who’s a little – not as tolerant as somebody else, and that happens anywhere.”
Kerry then took a steer toward YouTube territory.
“But as a country, as a society, we live and breathe the idea of religious freedom and religious tolerance, whatever the religion, and political freedom and political tolerance, whatever the point of view. I mean, some people have sometimes wondered about why our Supreme Court allows one group or another to march in a parade, even though it’s the most provocative thing in the world and they carry signs that are an insult to one group or another. And the reason is that that’s freedom, freedom of speech,” he said.
“In America, you have a right to be stupid if you want to be, and you have a right to be disconnected to somebody else if you want to be, and we tolerate it. We somehow make it through that. Now, I think that’s a virtue. I think that’s something worth fighting for.”
The Kerry ramble continued…
“And unfortunately, in too many parts of the world, some religions – not – and I’m not just speaking of one religion or another. You have intolerance in a number of different kinds of religions or points of view in different things. I know that Islam is not represented by a lot of jihadists and others. I know it’s a beautiful religion. I’ve read more and more about it,” he said.”
“I’ve been reading a book recently called No god but God, which is the history of the Prophet and where he came from and how it developed as a religion. It’s fascinating. If I went back to college today, I’d probably go back and be a comparative religion major and a comparative literature major, because those are the things that help you understand what makes people tick and how they’re working and how they think. But the important thing is to have the tolerance to say you can have a different point of view.”