Obama: The First Amendment? Never Heard of It

All of Obama's promises come with expiration dates as Jim Geraghty would say; some of them much shorter than others:

President Barack Obama used Air Force One to conduct a policy loop-de-loop Wednesday, asserting in a CBS interview that he supports Americans’ right to criticize Islam, following almost 18 hours of determined condemnation from Team Romney and damaging news from Egypt and Libya.

“We believe in the First Amendment,” Obama told CBS’s Steve Kroft during an interview arranged days earlier.

“It is one of the hallmarks of our Constitution that I’m sworn to uphold, and so we are always going to uphold the rights for individuals to speak their mind,” he said, according to a transcript narrated by White House spokesman Jay Carney.

-- The Daily Caller's Neil Munro on Wednesday, in a piece titled "Obama caves to Romney, embraces free speech for critics of Islam." As I wrote at the time linking to the story, could there be a more grudging and reluctant defense of the First Amendment, from a president with two books to his name?

In addition to the Joint Chiefs dialing up Koran-burning pastor Terry Jones earlier this week, we now know that Mr. Obama's defense of the First Amendment is very reluctant indeed. Or as Munro is reporting today,  "Obama submits to Brotherhood, asks for suppression of anti-Islam video:"

President Barack Obama has bowed to the Muslim Brotherhood’s demand that the federal government suppress a satirical video of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad.

Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security Council, told the Washington Post that the White House has “reached out to YouTube to call the video to their attention and ask them to review whether it violates their terms of use.”

The request complies with the Sept. 13 demand and threat by the brotherhood, which now governs the Arab’s world’s largest country, Egypt.

“Hurting the feelings of one and a half billion Muslims cannot be tolerated, and… we demand that all those involved in such crimes be urgently brought to trial,” according to an English-language statement on the brotherhood’s website.

The brotherhood’s demand included a threat of additional violence during Obama’s re-election campaign.

“The people’s anger and fury for their Faith is invariably predictable, often unstoppable,” said the website.

The submission came shortly after White House spokesman Jay Carney publicly disavowed any plans to curb free speech.

“We cannot and will not squelch freedom of expression in this country — it is a foundational principle,” he told reporters at a 11.15 a.m. press conference in the White House.

The First Amendment? For the Obama Administration, it's merely a legal term of art, as Carney would say.

As Jonah Goldberg asks in his column today, written before news broke that the Obama administration is phoning up Google to get a video yanked, "Are we really ready to throw out the First Amendment to appease lynch mobs?"

Now, I have next to no sympathy for the makers of this film, who clearly hoped to start trouble, violent or otherwise. But where does this logic end? One of the things we’ve learned all too well is that the “Muslim street” — and often Muslim elites — have a near-limitless capacity to take offense at slights to their religion, honor, history, or feelings.

Does [MSNBC's Mike Barnicle] want Salman Rushdie, the author of The Satanic Verses, charged with being an accessory to murder, too? That book has in one way or another led to several deaths. Surely he should have known that he was stirring up trouble. Perhaps the U.S. Justice Department and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security could work together on a joint prosecution?

Perhaps Rushdie’s offense doesn’t count because he’s a literary celebrity? Only crude attacks on Islam should be held accountable for the murderous bloodlust they elicit.

One might ask who is to decide what is crude and what is refined. But that would be fruitless, because we know the real answer: the Islamist mobs and their leaders. Their rulings would come in the form of bloody conniptions around the world.

Are we really going to hold what we can say or do in our own country hostage to the passions of foreign lynch mobs?

If your answer is some of form of “yes,” then you might want to explain why U.S. citizens aren’t justified in attacking Egyptian or Libyan embassies here in America. After all, I get pretty mad when I see goons burning the American flag, and I become downright livid when a U.S. ambassador is murdered. Maybe some of my like-minded friends and I should burn down some embassies here in Washington, D.C., or maybe a consulate in New York City?

Of course we shouldn’t do that. To argue that Americans shouldn’t resort to mayhem while suggesting it’s understandable when Muslims do is to create a double standard that either renders Muslims unaccountable savages (they can’t help themselves!) or casts Americans as somehow less passionate about what we hold dear, be it our flag, our diplomats, or our religions. (It’s hardly as if Islamists don’t defame Christianity, Judaism, moderate forms of Islam, or even atheism.)

But, I’m sorry to say, that may in fact be the case. After all, with barely a moment’s thought these deep thinkers on MSNBC were willing to throw out the First Amendment for a little revenge. It was a moment of voluntary surrender to terrorism.

One in which the network’s number one viewer is pretty cool with himself.

As Ace writes, "If we're going to have anti-blasphemy laws, I want them official and passed by Congress and reviewed by the courts. I don't want this executive-only implementation of a despicable law." And read on for a quote from the L.A. Times that describes the filmmaker's digs in chilling detail, in case the jihadists want to drop by for tea and throat-slitting.

Speaking of which, as Kathy Shaidle quips, "Flashback: Pentagon telephones Beatles about ‘that Manson thing.’"

Related: "Either movies cause violence or they don’t. Pick one."

Update (1:54 PM PDT): YouTube to Obama: Pound sand.

More: As collated by Twitchy, "William Saletan [of the Washington Post-owned Slate] says Romney betrayed free speech by standing up for it; Ace of Spades epically drubs."