The Wrong Response in Cairo
September 11, 2012 was a sad day for our country. A group of radical Islamists attacked the American embassy in Cairo, tore down the American flag, and burned it in the street. Reuters reported that about twenty young men scaled the walls of the embassy and tore down the flag, which was then torn apart and burned by around two thousand people who were also protesting around the embassy. The American flag was then "replaced" with a black flag carrying the words, "There is no God but God, and Mohammad is his messenger."
Taking into consideration how outrageously disrespectful and insulting this act was, an immediate condemnation would be expected. And considering that American service members have fought and died for that same flag which was trampled and burned in the streets of Cairo yesterday, it would be expected that the American government make very clear that what happened was completely unacceptable and intolerable. Instead, this was the response issued by the United States embassy:
The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims - as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.
The protesters in Cairo claimed to be acting out in response to a film, tied to Gainesville, Florida pastor Terry Jones, which is critical of Islam and Mohammed. The American Embassy felt compelled to apologize for the acts of the film makers, instead of condemning the acts of the violent protestors who desecrated our flag. In short, we apologized for making them mad.
This situation displays some of the current administration's most dangerous beliefs, namely the belief that radical Islam will hold no ill-intent toward America as long as we don't make them angry. It also represents the belief that Muslims can't be held to the same standards of behavior and tolerance as are people of other religions. This type of naiveté is rampant in liberal politics, but it is especially damaging and dangerous when applied to foreign policy.
Radical Islam's hatred for America is an ideology, not a reaction. A human being is not absolved of responsibility because of a certain religious following.
What happened in Cairo yesterday was unacceptable, and no film changes that, regardless of whether or not is critical of Islam. The American Embassy has no reason to offer an apology, but it does have a duty to demand one.