Friday, September 14, 2012

Liberal media meltdown

The reaction in the media to Romney's criticism of the administration on Egypt and Libya is almost enough to make Romney look good. I haven't been impressed by Romney. But the prejudiced reaction by much of the press - to turn something which genuinely does call into question the whole Obama approach to the Middle East into a "Romney gaffe" - is just astonishing.

Here's an example in a muddled and confused NYT column. It rightfully praises the assasinated US ambassador to Libya. But it attacks the "visceral hatred" of Islam in parts of the United States.

The Obama administration never expressed sympathy for the assailants. It never apologized for American values. What the Cairo embassy did, as violence brewed in the Egyptian capital and well before the Benghazi attack, was to condemn “actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others” — specifically Muslims.

Since when was extreme bigotry that portrays the followers of one of the world’s great religions as child molesters an American value? Religious tolerance is as fundamental an American value as free speech. For Romney to offer implicit defense of a scurrilous movie in the name of free speech, while misrepresenting the Obama administration’s actions and offering not a word about hatred toward the world’s more than 1.5 billion Muslims, suggests he is deluded or desperate or both.

The same liberal media has only been too happy to portray the Catholic church as mostly made up of molesting priests. You could have read much of the Democratic National Convention as "hurting the religious feelings" of anti-abortionists or people who wanted God mentioned in the party platform. Last week G and I were offended by Madonna's latest concert tour, which received a positive review in the NYT, which did not consider whether it would "hurt the religious feelings of others."

There is a deep hypocrisy here. Apparently only the hurt religious beliefs of those who riot and kill matter. And that's the problem, and why Obama got it wrong.

Americans have been remarkably tolerant of thirty years of attacks from Muslims claiming to act in the name of Islam. No Muslim ambassadors were attacked after three thousand Americans died on 9/11. It would have been unthinkable.

The issue is one of thresholds. It clearly sounds as if the offending video in question has no redeeming merits. But the kind of multicultural tolerance Roger Cohen has in mind here only runs one way. America does not erupt in riots when the American flag is burnt in Egypt. It would be ridiculous.

This September surprise has given the world cause to appreciate the cool head in the White House and worry about the hothead who aspires to replace him. Romney, in Jacques Chirac’s immortal phrase, “lost a good opportunity to keep quiet.”

If Romney' first instinct is to think of American interests instead of the dignity of Islam, that's a good thing - hard-headed as opposed to soft-in-the-head. Appeasement is not cool-headed. It invites further violence.

Think about it. Romney is a "hothead" for raising legitimate questions about US foreign policy, but storming embassies and threatening Christian minorities should be overlooked? The issue is the people whose religious feelings are "hurt" are clearly the hotheads. Refusing to recognize that does not help.

I think what this shows is irrational panic in the media about the other "narrative" in this situation - the long shadow of Jimmy Carter.

Or perhaps it shows there is hard-wired incomprehension of the situation. The instinctive liberal response is to fail to see anything except issues of fairness towards Muslims. They simply cannot see anything beyond that. Liberals simply don't understand they are part of a very small subculture, which is why the left has done so badly in the midst of the worst economic crisis in seventy years. Far from understanding other peoples' point of view, they are unaware alternative viewpoints even exist, outside of the various slurs they hurl. Articles like this one come across as pompous, self-righteous and utterly out of touch.

As I said below, the right response here is not more praise for Islam from the United States, but containment and disengagement. If you meet a crazy drunk in the subway, the right response is to move away, not walk up and give speeches about your great respect and tolerance for his preferred brand of liquor.

What Obama should have said is: the same openness and tolerance which protected Muslims in the United States from riots and attacks and internment after 9/11 is the same openness which allows people in the US to disrespect Islam, too. And we make no apology for that.


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