Americans Have the 'Right to Be Stupid' ... and that Includes the President
Thank God for John Kerry. Our snobby, elitist secretary of State offered this bit of wisdom to an audience of German students a few days ago:
"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," Kerry told the students in Berlin, the second stop on his inaugural trip as secretary of state.
"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," he added.
"The reason is, that's freedom, freedom of speech. In America you have a right to be stupid - if you want to be," he said, prompting laughter. "And you have a right to be disconnected to somebody else if you want to be.
A ringing defense of liberty, tolerance, and free speech, don't you think?
That "right to be stupid" extends to the secretary of State, the president, and any actions they take that make America's position weaker in the region:
Case in point: Food and medical aid to the Syrian rebels. Not surprisingly, the reaction from the rebels was less than overwhelming gratitude:
Rebels took little solace from Washington's latest promises, or from reports that, according to U.S. and European officials, the U.K. is expected to agree to provide combat gear, including body armor, night-vision equipment and military-transport vehicles.
"The way I see it is that this is all nonsense and lies to people who are dying. Anyway, the final word will go to the revolutionaries on the ground," said an activist inside Syria.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the U.A.E. already provide light weapons, delivered mostly across the Turkish and Jordanian borders. France and the U.K. fund local civilian activist and aid councils directly, and, like the U.S., provide communications and satellite equipment, and train Syrian activists on them.
"Nothing has changed, the U.S. position of no arming is crystal clear," said Mohammad Sarmini, a spokesman for the Syrian National Council, the opposition coalition's largest faction, which boycotted the Rome conference at what it said was insufficient Western support for the rebels.
"This has become embarrassing and degrading," Mr. Sarmini said. "The regime's escalation has rendered even our unmet pleas foolish. We used to beg for antiaircraft missiles. What do you ask for to counter Scuds?"
It would, of course, have been better to give nothing, to maintain the status quo. This way, we actually look weaker while generating zero gratitude on the part of the rebels.