Do Straw Men Have Free Speech?
President Barack Obama took to the UN podium on Tuesday and lied, blaming an American’s exercise of free speech for the death of Obama’s own Ambassador. He also stood before that august body of Islamists, antisemites, tyrants, socialists, and corrupt panderers and told America’s sworn enemies that the future is theirs. In continuing to blame the video and attack it, Obama is using his usual straw man tactics. The video did not cause a single one of the riots or attacks on our embassies, nor most especially the consulate in Libya — and Barack Obama knew it all along.
The whole charade was designed to deflect blame away from the President’s failure to defend his ambassador. Instead of national security briefings, Barack Obama has been out fund raising. Were he able to do the job, he could display his ability in these times of foreign policy crisis. But since he can’t do the job, he has to raise a lot of money to claim the guy who can is the one who can’t.
After a brief warm-up and the usual Obama deconstructed hystory* lesson, the President spent considerable oratorical energy explaining that some Internet video was not his fault. The video, we know, was not responsible for the 9/11/12 attacks on our embassy and consulate, but was a mostly a scapegoat. It was a terrorist strike by al Qaeda-linked militias operating in Benghazi. We have known for several days that the Benghazi attack in particular was not linked to any protest, and could not have been about a video.
The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt found the YouTube clips in July, and sat on them. Then, as September 11 approached, the Islamists began planning their attack. The video would prove a decent cover story for what they wanted to do. But the video clearly didn’t cause the attack on the embassy.
Libyan President Mohamed Magarief told NBC News Wednesday the video had nothing to do with the attack on the consulate, which was a planned, coordinated terrorist attack by jihadi militias. He has been saying so since shortly after the attacks. In Libya, there were even large-scale pro-Western protests and mob actions against the militias in retaliation against the attack on our consulate.
So why did Obama rail against the video, when he knew it didn’t start this episode of Muslim Rage Theatre?
The question, then, is how we respond. And on this we must agree: There is no speech that justifies mindless violence. There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There is no video that justifies an attack on an embassy. There is no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan.
Note that Obama does not say in so many words that the video was to blame, but leaves clear the implication that it is the culprit. Yet we know that he knows that it was not:
Asked why Obama has declined to use the term “terrorist attack,” Carney said “there’s no reason that he chose the words he did beyond trying to provide a full explanation of his views and his assessment that we need to await further information that the investigation will uncover.”
It’s a giant straw man, which the great and glorious Obama knocked down with his many words before the UN General Assembly.
The people who actually carried out the attack do not care about a video. They already knew they wanted to destroy America.
But having done the valiant work to say that the attack was not justified by a video, which is vacuously true, Obama threw away every shred of positive value in his speech when he also said,
The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. But to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see in the images of Jesus Christ that are desecrated or churches that are destroyed, or the Holocaust that is denied.
The phrase “slander the prophet of Islam” is a term of art of sorts in the Muslim world:
Furthermore, Shaykh Al-Islam ibn Taymiyyah said under chapter: “Cursing Allah”, “If such a person was Muslim, he shall be killed according to Ijmaa’, because he is a Kafir, a Murtadd, and even worse. The Kafir respects the Lord and thinks that the creed that he follows, which is false, does not constitute ridiculing Allah or cursing Him.” [As-Sarim Al-Maslool]. He also stated that, “When a non-Muslim curses or slanders Allah, it is like if he has cursed or slandered the Prophet (meaning they both carry the same punishment). We have mentioned Imam Ahmad’s statement that whoever disrespects the Lord shall be killed whether he was a Muslim or a Kafir. Also, our scholars have stated that whoever shows disrespect for Allah, His Book, His religion or His Messenger, deserves the same pun-ishment (meaning capital punishment for all these offenses).
Using that phrase grants legitimacy to the concept that a figure of religious devotion has a right not to be slandered. It’s preposterous, and an abdication of his duty as President of the United States.
The issue is not the credibility of those who claim a prophet can be slandered, but the idea that they can infringe upon the free speech and religious freedom of Americans to keep us from saying whatever we want about Muhammad.
By falsely saying or implying for so long that a video caused the deaths and destruction of our consulate, Obama lent credence to the danger of free speech and gave ammunition to those who hate America and the West. The more he said it, the more the Muslim street became enraged.
Once riots start, they feed on themselves. Given permission to riot, the mob will do so.
Over at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey was not pleased with that portion of the speech, either:
Even worse is the implication of Obama’s equating of “slander” to acts of real violence. He seems to be offering a deal that he can’t deliver, which is that the US will ban such “slander” if people stop torching churches and committing violence against women. That’s a dangerous expectation to set for people in parts of the world who don’t understand that Obama can’t possibly deliver on it.
Demanding an end to outspoken criticism of the “prophet of Islam” is just another way of calling for blasphemy exceptions to free speech. That is most certainly not“what America embodies.” In a free society, people can choose to deny the Holocaust just as they can remain intolerant of, and criticize, Islam or Christianity or God Himself. They can even express that intolerance in speech, writing, and yes, even filmmaking. They just can’t commit violence to impose those views on others. And that’s what America embodies.
And then, there was this little gem,
From Brazil to South Africa, from Turkey to South Korea, from India to Indonesia people of different races, religions and traditions have lifted millions out of poverty, while respecting the rights of their citizens and meeting their responsibilities as nations.
…which I hope is just missing the phrase “the free market” because of some kind of weird new typographical error.
President Obama is now joining the rest of us in admitting that the consulate in Benghazi came under assault by terrorists. What should have taken fifteen seconds took fifteen days, while Obama vacillated and strove, above all, not to be blamed. But history is hard on losers, and Mr. Obama is a loser.
See, I know how to spell it.