Friday, September 14, 2012

Muslim Outrage: It's NOT About "Hurt Feelings"

Folks... I'd like you to read this fascinating piece of analysis by James Taranto which was (I believe) originally run in yesterday's Wall Street Journal.

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A New York Times editorial on the current Mideast crisis is mostly a predictable attack on Mitt Romney, and an unusually dishonest one. But the conclusion is a clueless classic: "Libyan leaders have condemned the killings and promised to work to apprehend those responsible. Egyptian leaders, inexplicably, have not followed that lead."


Let's see if we can explain. Here's a clue, from a Times news story:

What makes Egypt's uncertain course so vexing for the White House is that President Obama, more than any other foreign leader, has sided again and again with the Arab street in Cairo, even when it meant going expressly against the wishes of traditional allies, including the Egyptian military, the Persian Gulf states and Israel.

As recently as June, Mr. Obama was calling on the Egyptian military to quickly hand over power to the democratically elected civilian government - a move that helped now-President Mohamed Morsi, whose Muslim Brotherhood movement has called for greater use of Islamic law, assume power.

At the same time, the administration was chastising the military, which has for 30 years served as the bulwark of a crucial American strategic interest in the Middle East: the 1979 Camp David peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

For anti-American unrest to erupt in Egypt after all that could reflect a deeper divergence of a once-staunch ally from the United States.

The key phrase is "Islamic law," or Shariah.

The Obama administration has repeatedly denounced the video that riled up the rioters in Egypt and elsewhere. But those condemnations, which we quoted yesterday, rather miss the point.

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo, in its infamous apology statement, deplored "efforts . . . to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the video "inflammatory" and suggested its message is counter to "America's commitment to religious tolerance."

President Obama rejected "efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others."

But although the video may indeed be insensitive, inflammatory, intolerant and insulting, that's not why the rioters are rioting.


They are rioting because in their view it is blasphemous, and therefore forbidden under Shariah.


They are rioting because in their view it is blasphemous, and therefore forbidden under Shariah.

And although the Muslim Brotherhood has cannily adopted the rhetoric of wounded feelings, it is calling for the criminalization of blasphemy world-wide, as reports:

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood in a statement demanded legal action against those behind the film.

"Hurting the feelings of one and a half billion Muslims cannot be tolerated, and the people's anger and fury for their faith is invariably predictable, often unstoppable," it said, calling for "assaults on the sanctities of all heavenly religions" to be criminalized. "Otherwise, such acts will continue to cause devout Muslims across the world to suspect and even loathe the West, especially the USA, for allowing their citizens to violate the sanctity of what they hold dear and holy. Hence, we demand that all those involved in such crimes be urgently brought to trial."

This cannot happen in the U.S.

Blasphemy against Islam is a crime in parts of the Muslim world, and some Western countries have established de facto bans via selective enforcement of "hate speech" laws. But America takes free speech seriously.

The Supreme Court held in Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969) that even speech directly advocating violence may not be criminalized, "except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action."

A law against blasphemy would, in addition, violate the constitutional guarantee to freedom of religion and the prohibition on government establishment of religion.

In short, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have set up an irreconcilable conflict, for this is an area in which no accommodation is possible between Shariah and the American Constitution.

Surely Morsi, who was educated in the U.S., is aware of this (though he was once a professor at California State University, Northridge, a school whose faculty has a not-unblemished record on First Amendment matters).

So what is he up to?

It reminds us a bit of the Obama administration's attempt to gin up a "war on women." (That was an attack on constitutional liberties motivated by a combination of genuine ideological zeal and the desire to fire up the political base while distracting from economic failure.)

Democracy is not an unmixed blessing, either there or here.

One suspects that, like the Ayatollah Khomeini's Iran in 1979-80, Morsi and the Brotherhood have been emboldened by the U.S. administration's apparent weakness.

It's fine for U.S. officials to denounce the video - and Mrs. Clinton today did so in even stronger terms, calling it "disgusting and reprehensible" and saying that "the United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video." But such declarations, on their own, will not appease the mob. They only fuel the expectation that the U.S. prosecute the video's makers, a demand to which officials cannot yield but seem afraid to answer with a clear "no."

The Daily Caller reports that late yesterday Obama finally got around to saying a word about the Constitution:

"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.

Better late than never, but...


(*TAKING A DEEP BREATH*)'s telling that the Cairo embassy's statement referred not to the First Amendment but to "the universal right of free speech."


That would be Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a non-binding resolution of the U.N. General Assembly.


The president takes an oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."


In this most solemn duty, Obama is, at best, leading from behind.

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