The narrative sounds eerily familiar. A Democratic president presiding over a weak economy, prone to a foreign policy that distances allies and coddles enemies and who thinks he’s the smartest person on the planet, witnesses the assault on American diplomatic missions in the Muslim world.
Barack Obama, meet Jimmy Carter, if you haven’t already.
Muslims, the people of perpetual grievance, have found yet another pretext to kill innocent people – the production by an American of a film biography of Muhammad. From excerpts aired on the radio, the dialogue was so pedestrian as to be laughable. No matter. Muslims, who are forbidden to depict Muhammad in any image, assume that their strictures must apply to every person on the planet, and so have attacked the US embassy in Cairo and the mission in Libya – desecrating the American flag in Cairo (where embassy personnel had been sent home earlier in the day) and murdering innocents (including the US Ambassador to Libya) in Benghazi.
That tolerance is unknown in the Muslim world is by now a given, so accepted that it is neither sought nor expected. The US embassy’s initial reaction to the Cairo rioters (so far, the only reaction) was to apologize for the film, as if “Americans,” rather than an American exercising his freedom of speech, were responsible. Instead of defending the embassy – which, after all, is considered as sovereign US territory – and/or denouncing the rioters and the Muslim government that allowed the attack to occur, the Obama administration chose, yet again, to apologize to Muslims. The apology, apparently, was for putting Muslims in a position where they have no choice but to kill you. Poor dears, with their uncontrollable rage that is stoked by fecklessness and weakness.
The irony of the Cairo attack is twofold. Less than a decade ago, Egyptian television aired a fictional series based on the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” that was replete with Jew hatred, offensive stereotypes and caricatures of Jews. Clearly, Muslims somehow rationalize repugnant attacks on other religions – Judaism, Christianity, and recall the destruction of ancient Buddhist shrines by the Taliban – but fly into a riotous rage when Islam is portrayed negatively. They reserve the right to destroy shuls and churches, but insist that mosques remain sacrosanct. This obvious double standard is abetted by the world – especially the United States – when the victims apologize to the Muslims for unleashing their primitive Muslim wrath. What happened yesterday is just the continuation of the Danish “Muhammad-cartoon” controversy in another form, with Muslims again insisting that rights cherished in the Western world have to be vitiated in order to accommodate Muslim special sensitivities. Of course, no other religion or nation is allowed to insist on a similar claim, and especially not from Muslims. Such weakness only engenders more attacks, as does the coddling of any bully.
Certainly, good taste and elementary decency would insist that no faith’s cherished icons, edifices, personalities or tenets be ridiculed at all – but taste and decency are not hallmarks of the Western world, nor are they considered limitations on the freedoms extant in the West. More importantly, Muslims have no moral right to insist on good taste and decency from anyone as long as they don’t practice it themselves. Mutual respect, the foundation of the civilized world, begins with mutuality.
The second irony of the Cairo embassy attack is that Cairo, in June 2009, was the locus for one of President Obama’s most famous apology speeches, where he sought to assuage the hurt feelings of the Muslim world from the years of US imperialism and domination, as Obama saw it. It was intended to be America’s reset button with Islam, especially after the US actions “forced” Muslims to hijack US airliners, fly them into US skyscrapers and murder thousands of American civilians – a crime celebrated in the Muslim world at the time with wild cheering, and a crime commemorated yesterday in Egypt and Libya with assaults on American diplomatic missions and the murder of yet more Americans.
It is fascinating that what generates fury in the Muslim world is a bad movie, but not the ongoing massacre of upwards of 23,000 Muslims in Syria. Syria’s diplomatic posts are safe from Muslim frenzy, and the carnage continues apace. Why doesn’t any nation intervene? Why is the slaughter being observed with Western detachment, except for periodic and perfunctory denunciations accompanied by empty threats?
One possibility presents, as indelicate as it sounds. The Western world has tired of Muslims and their irrational passions, and simply does not care if they kill each other – as long as they don’t kill us. The Western world is tired of intervening – with the loss of blood and treasure – to prevent Muslims from killing each other. Let them blow each other up, in their mosques, streets and wedding halls. Yet another 100 people were killed in Iraq this past Sunday without evincing the slightest reaction from Americans or other Westerners. Another 10,000 will be killed in Syria in the coming months? Great, knock yourselves out, have a good time. We extend our sympathies to the victims and their families, feel bad about the children, and hope it ends soon. But if Muslims are troubled by Muslims killing Muslims, let Muslims do something about it.
When savagery becomes routine, even acceptable, and when today’s victims were yesterday’s murderers, it is difficult to muster even crocodile tears, much less genuine sympathy for their plight. The Muslim world has coerced a hardening of Western hearts. It is one of the few places in the world where dictators are overthrown in popular uprisings only to be succeeded by even more brutal dictators; it is the only place in the world were random violence against innocent civilians is considered normal, and even sacred. And Muslim attacks on American diplomats preceded even the Carter feebleness; in March, 1973, the US Ambassador to Sudan Cleo Noel was kidnapped and killed (along with his deputy) in a Palestinian attack on the Saudi embassy in Khartoum, an attack orchestrated and masterminded by Yasser Arafat who (it’s on tape) personally ordered their murders. That didn’t stop Bill Clinton from feting Arafat at the White House twenty years later, when he should have been incarcerating him.
Obama’s reset with Russia has worked out as well as his reset with Muslims. Each has only grown in contempt for America’s weak leader and the helplessness of the country he leads. Obama’s foreign policy successes (e.g., the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, on something close to the Bush timetable, it is worth adding) has not made America stronger or the world safer. On the contrary: the incompetence and spinelessness (literally: Obama’s bowing to the Saudi king made a deep impression in Islam) of the Obama administration set the stage for this latest attack on Americans and American interests in the Muslim world, and a new round of apologies.
Add to that another snub of Israel’s prime minister by this president, and it is Jimmy Carter-time once again.
Fortunately, Jimmy Carter was a one-term president.