When the motor of history gets revved up (as it surely is now), it becomes more than commonly difficult to discriminate between the mere static of events rubbing against one another and that appoggiatura that announces the main theme of the moment. You’d have to be pretty thick not to sense that something big is happening in the world. Just yesterday, the Evening Standard published a column of mine in which I reprised James Carville’s famous taunt, “It’s the economy, stupid.”
Carville was right, except when he wasn’t, e.g., at about 10:00 a.m. on September 11, 2001, or, as we see all about us, in the aftermath of September 11, 2012, when some representatives of the “Arab Spring” stormed the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and murdered U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other diplomats.
What was the most extraordinary statement to come out of that outrage, or the successive and still unfolding attacks on U.S. and other Western interests by Islamists across the world?
First prize for naïveté must surely go to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had this to say about the murder of those four Americans:
Today, many Americans are asking – indeed, I asked myself – how could this happen? How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction? This question reflects just how complicated and, at times, how confounding the world can be.
I have to say, those were not among the questions I asked myself. Leave aside the laughable trope that what we did in Libya was liberate the country. What we really did was exchange one malign dictator for the dictatorship of a malign, freedom-denying ideology, radical Islam. What I chiefly wanted to know was, Why was security so lax at our consulate, especially on the anniversary of the terrorists attacks of 9/11?
First prize for cringe-making appeasement also goes to the State Department, even if it wasn’t issued by HRC herself. Six hours before an Islamist mob stormed our embassy in Cairo, the embassy condemned “the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.”
It’s perfectly OK to “hurt the religious feelings” of anyone else — just ask Terrence McNally, whose play Corpus Christie depicts Jesus having sex with Judas Iscariot. Perhaps you do not like Corpus Christie. I think it a loathsome work, but I do not propose to burn down an embassy or murder anyone because of it. But Muslims apparently deserve a special dispensation. The First Amendment protects Mr. McNally. But does it protect the author of The Innocence of Muslims, the silly 13-minute anti-Muslim film by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (not, as was first reported, “Sam Bacile”)? We’ll see. Mr. Nakoula has been detained for questioning by federal probation agents. What do you bet he is found to have violated probation?
Choice though HRC’s and the Cairo Embassy’s statements were, however, the most astonishing emanation from officialdom these last few days was the news that Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, put in a call to the fruity pastor Terry Jones — the chap who some months ago made headlines by publicly burning a Koran — asking him to withdraw his support for The Innocence of Muslims.
Query: Why was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff calling a private citizen and leaning on him to make a public recantation? Has such a thing ever happened in the United States? I cannot think of a precedent. As Michael Walsh notes elsewhere on PJM, “A clearer breaching of the civilian-military relationship can hardly be imagined, and Gen. Dempsey ought to resign in disgrace for his appalling lapse in judgment.” But, as Walsh also notes, Dempsey certainly will not resign nor will the president fire him.
Which means what?
There is a lot happening now. Remember Rahm Emanuel’s observation, made in the midst of the economic meltdown of 2008-2009, that “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste”? What he meant was that a crisis makes people anxious and vulnerable and that it is easier in periods of crisis to exploit that vulnerability and push through initiatives to enlarge government. Which is why in periods of crisis one should, if one is prudent, exercise double diligence about acting hastily. As the British politician and journalist Daniel Hannan recently observed in his book The New Road to Serfdom, “most disastrous policies have been introduced at times of emergency.” There seem to be many leaders — beginning, alas, with the president of the United States — who would have us scrap the First Amendment in order to cater to wounded Muslim sensibilities. Andy McCarthy gets it exactly right in “Obama vs. the First Amendment,” his column for NRO today. Reflecting on our Cairo embassy’s statement about “misguided individuals,” he argues that Mitt Romney was right: the statement was “a disgrace.”
It elevated over the U.S. Constitution (you know, the thing Obama took an oath to “preserve, protect, and defend”) the claimed right of sharia supremacists (you know, “Religion of Peace” adherents) to riot over nonsense. Further, it dignified the ludicrous pretext that an obscure, moronic 14-minute video was the actual reason for the oncoming jihad.
And here’s the kicker:
[N]o matter how determined the president’s media shysters are to cover it up: The disgraceful embassy statement was a completely accurate articulation of longstanding Obama policy.
Andy then gives us a little history lesson:
In 2009, the Obama State Department ceremoniously joined with Muslim governments to propose a United Nations resolution that, as legal commentator Stuart Taylor observed, was “all-too-friendly to censoring speech that some religions and races find offensive.” Titled “Freedom of Opinion and Expression” — a name only an Alinskyite or a Muslim Brotherhood tactician could love — the resolution was the latest salvo in a years-long campaign by the 57-government Organization of the Islamic Conference (now renamed the “Organization of Islamic Cooperation”). The OIC’s explicit goal is to coerce the West into adopting sharia, particularly its “defamation” standards.
When I was in Tampa covering the Republican National Convention a couple weeks ago, I ran into an Arab-American lady in line for the free coffee Google was dispensing. She was a lawyer, a conservative of some description, and her business in life was to champion the Arab Spring and assure that those of us who worry about the imposition of Sharia are crazy ideologues. Arab leaders “can’t understand” why some American conservatives are up in arms about Sharia, she told me. “It’s just their religious law,” as if that settled everything.
If only. As Andy observes,
Sharia severely penalizes any insult to Islam or its prophet, no matter how slight. Death is a common punishment. And although navel-gazing apologists blubber about how “moderate Islamist” governments will surely ameliorate enforcement of this monstrous law, the world well knows that the “Muslim street” usually takes matters into its own hands — with encouragement from their influential sheikhs and imams.
We can see what that means today in Cairo, in Tunisia, in Yemen, in the Sudan — heck, we can see in in London, where angry Muslims burn the American flag outside our embassy or in Texas, where an university had to be evacuated yesterday because of a terrorist threat.
I say “we” can see that is happening, but it’s not clear that the bureaucrats running the government can. As Andy notes,
In its obsession with propitiating Islamic supremacists, the Obama administration has endorsed this license to mutilate. In the United States, the First Amendment prohibits sharia restrictions on speech about religion. As any Catholic or Jew can tell you, everyone’s belief system is subject to critical discussion. One would think that would apply doubly to Islam. After all, many Muslims accurately cite scripture as a justification for violence; and classical Islam recognizes no separation between spiritual and secular life — its ambition, through sharia, is to control matters (economic, political, military, social, hygienic, etc.) that go far beyond what is understood and insulated as “religious belief” in the West. If it is now “blasphemy” to assert that it is obscene to impose capital punishment on homosexuals and apostates, to take just two of the many examples of sharia oppression, then we might as well hang an “Out of Business” sign on our Constitution.
Indeed. The bottom line, which my friend in the coffee line did not see but Andy McCarthy does, is that “Islamic supremacists see themselves in a civilizational war with us. When we submit on a major point, we grow weaker and they grow stronger.”
It’s not only Islamophilic Arab-American lawyers who refuse to see this. Left-wing African-American presidents fail to see it as well. What is happening all around us now requires a president who can effectively discharge his fundamental responsibility: to protect the United States of America from foreign attack. Barack Obama has demonstrated his feckless incapacity to do this. Mitt Romney, on the contrary, has stepped up to the plate. No sooner had the murderous Libyan attacks happened than he issued a strong and stern statement rousingly supporting the American cause.
America will not tolerate attacks against our citizens and against our embassies. We will defend also our constitutional rights of speech and assembly and religion. We have confidence in our cause in America. We respect our Constitution. We stand for the principles our Constitution protects. We encourage other nations to understand and respect the principles of our Constitution because we recognize that these principles are the ultimate source of freedom for individuals around the world.
I also believe the Administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt instead of condemning their actions. It’s never too early for the United States Government to condemn attacks on Americans, and to defend our values. The White House distanced itself last night from the statement, saying it wasn’t ‘cleared by Washington.’ That reflects the mixed signals they’re sending to the world.
Spoken like a true patriot and leader. I’ve been saying for sometime now that I expect Romney to win by a large margin in November. Bold statements like this (which were naturally condemned by the left-wing media) increase my confidence. As Andy put it in his comments on Romney’s statement, “It will be remembered as the moment the race for president finally became about the real job of a president. It will be remembered as the moment Romney won.”