Freedom of Speech

The Cairo Embassy’s Self-Defeating Statement on “Religious Incitement”

The approach isn't just wrong-it won't work.

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A quick footnote to Matt's excellent post about the Cairo embassy's comments on "religious incitement": In addition to being wrongheaded, these little announcements are self-defeating. When you issue such statements, you encourage the view that the government is somehow responsible for the speech you're condemning. Even if you succeed in calming the crowds—and to judge from what happened yesterday, you shouldn't expect to achieve even that much—any fringe film that you haven't anathematized can become the next cause célèbre. And if you think you can keep pumping out statements attacking every one of them, ponder what will happen if a mob decides to riot over the comments of a congressman, or someone else that a diplomat wouldn't want to officially denounce. Better to embrace free speech from the beginning than to lend support to the idea that your job requires you to sort acceptable expression from bad.

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50 responses to “The Cairo Embassy’s Self-Defeating Statement on “Religious Incitement”

  1. The embassy’s statement is emblematic of its boss’ blame-America-first for damn near anything. These people want to act surprised that Islamists would act like Islamists; it’s as though The Obama thought “if we help them, they will love us.” And his speech this morning was the closest thing to nothingness I have ever heard in my life. Hillary was about a million times more forceful, and Mitt acquitted himself pretty well.

    1. I’m not sure that really follows. Obama is much more likely to blame specific GROUPS in America, rather than America as a whole. I don’t recall any instances offhand where he blamed America for what happened overseas, aside from claiming we’re not involved enough. And he may not have been as forceful as Hillary was, but he still repudiated the comments.

      1. Of course, it follows. The embassy’s first response was apologies over free speech because it made some Muslims sad. The administration’s first response was to criticize Romney for criticizing the embassy response. And Obama spent his’ ’08 overseas tour and post-election Cairo speech blaming America.

        This is who he is. The man is more concerned about how this impacts the day’s campaign schedule.

  2. Appeasement! It’s bound to work one of these days.

    1. it sure did w binLaden!

  3. The embassy was of course playing to the Big Dog in Washington. I’m sure that those hapless putzes thought that they were acting in accordance with Obama’s bow-first-and-ask-questions-later “Smart Diplomacy” and were merely covering their asses. They forgot that an integral part of that package is to have the rug jerked out from under themselves when the wind shifts a bit.

  4. There is diplomacy and then there is politically correct diplomacy, clearly the USA used the latter diplomacy in this instance.

  5. When you issue such statements, you encourage the view that the government is somehow responsible for the speech you’re condemning.

    Kudos on this one Jesse. In the wake of the justifiable rage over this occurring, especially in context of the date it all occurred on, this is being lost.

    I have no problem with stating, as an addendum of sorts, that this guy’s film is stupid and doesn’t represent American opinion, but by making it the central part of the initial reaction, this administration essentially reinforced the idea that the gov’t could or should have some ability to thwart it’s being made to begin with.

    1. Yeah, stuff like that statement just gives these people an incentive to riot whenever they hear something they don’t like, someone from America (which to them is as good as America itself) will try to appease them. All this sort of shit does is encourage them to go batshit crazy.

    2. The people in the countries where the violence occurred, are just pissed off because OUR government doesn’t prevent such movies from being made.

      The problem, therefore, is too much freedom here in America. But Obama could fix that, if he really cared.

    3. It’s the biggest problem with the statement, the implication that the government somehow owns the population.

      We should’ve made it clear that we think violence in response to speech is intolerable, period. That’s a core value–why not make it clear that we really believe it?

      1. That’s a core value–why not make it clear that we really believe it?

        Romney made that point repeatedly this morning; so did Hillary. The Obama, not so much. Then again, this is the same group whose knickers knotted over the Danish cartoons. Some Muslims don’t need reasons to be violent, just excuses.

        1. I don’t think we should be in so deep over there, but since we are, I think we’d be better off just stating our principles and standing by them.

        2. “Romney made that point repeatedly this morning; so did Hillary.”

          Interesting…

          I think the 3am commercial was an accurate reflection of Hillary’s personal beliefs about Obama, and it still is.

        3. so did Hillary.

          When?

  6. So Barack Obama manages to trump Jimmy Carter.

    1. It’s fucking Reagan again, manipulating the world to win an election.

      Do I have that right?

      1. Not really. First, Romney is not as smart as Reagan. Second, the Obamanistas brought this shit on themselves. They could’ve protected the embassy, and no one forced them to pull statements out of their collective asses.

        But if Obama looses the election because of this, I say great. Sadly, he will probably not lose the election to Gary Johnson.

        But his pain is my pleasure.

      2. I can’t think of any way this spins positive for Obama.

        I don’t think Romney has anyone smart enough on his staff to arrange this event, but it reeks of the Koch bothers 😉

        1. So what you’re saying is Romney is the pimp and the Kochs are the real threat. Does that make Obama the Godfather or is that Rahm and Obama is Fredo.

          1. I think Fredo is the whole administration.

          2. Obama is Fredo

            In personal character, yes.

              1. But I’m smart I can handle things

                /Obama

                1. Perfect.

                  He’s always been the front for others, his whole “career”, and that quote is just too, too perfect a summary of the whole rotten mob.

        2. I can’t think of any way this spins positive for Obama.

          They (media administration) will Ignore it. I am pretty sure that plan is already being implemented.

          I should point out the administration was very quick to condemn Ronmey’s comments about it.

          They spin it by changing the subject.

  7. You get more of what you reward, and less of what you punish.

    Following recent events, do you think we’ll see more, or fewer, attacks on US embassies?

  8. This is the product of an elite American education too. That’s where you go to learn doublethink.

  9. How do you like your Arab Spring now, Jesse?

    1. How do you like your Arab Spring now, Jesse?

      I continue to strongly support it, and I think it’s ludicrous to claim that these events delegitimize it. If you think you need a popular revolution to get an Islamist riot, think back to how they reacted to the Muhammad cartoons in Syria.

      This is especially true where Libya is concerned, since the overthrow of Qaddafi wasn’t an Arab Spring accomplishment in the first place. But in Egypt it was obvious that there would be contending forces in the wake of Mubarak’s fall. It isn’t exactly news that the forces of liberty and tolerance have their work cut out for them there. But it’s equally true that clearing out Mubarak was a necessary precondition for that work.

      1. the overthrow of Qaddafi wasn’t an Arab Spring accomplishment in the first place.

        Really? I had always thought it was. Why not?

        1. I don’t think the phrase “Arab Spring” includes the acts of NATO air power. At any rate, my defenses of the Arab Spring never extended to a defense of the Libyan intervention, which I always opposed.

          1. Yeah, you supported Qaddafi’s attempts to exterminate the roaches of Benghazi.

              1. … cause that’s what intervening in Libya stopped and why our diplomats are in Benghazi right now (or were).

      2. I think i need a better definition for the Arab Spring.

        Did you support US involvement in the Arab Spring?

        If so then you have no place picking which Arab Spring covert op you like and dislike.

        If you mean Arab Spring as a general uprising by people against their tyrannical governments starting around 2010 in and around the middle east…then yeah i guess i also supported the Arab Spring and stand by that.

        1. Did you support US involvement in the Arab Spring?

          As I wrote last year: “The U.S. should stop subsidizing the region’s regimes. Otherwise, it should stay out of the way.”

          1. Despotism in Libya forever!

  10. Here is a trailer for the movie that made the islamists so mad in the first place:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..e=youtu.be

    1. From the comments:
      “the muslim world got trolled by a d-rate youtube clip..good? job scrubs.”

    2. Reminds of the Life of Brian.

  11. I blame the U.S. occupation of Libya for all this.

    1. Yup, we never should have involved ourselves in the Arab Spring.

  12. I’m trying to figure out why the security at the Benghazi consulate was so poor. Libya is basically a chaotic Warlord Zone at the moment.

    1. On AlJazeera English one of their reports said the attackers actually came from the military base they were staying in and then went out and riled out the local populace to protests.

      Apparently these guys are part of the security forces in Libya.

  13. and to judge from what happened yesterday, you shouldn’t expect to achieve even that much

    Pretty sure the attacks had nothing to do with it.

    Also judging from what happened yesterday is it safe to say that dicking around with the Arab spring was a mistake and a failure.

  14. This all too much like the riots after the Life of Brian came out.

    1. That was nothing. During the Piss Christ days I was forced (and by forced i mean voluntary read) opinions in the paper that I disagreed with.

      The horror was unimaginable.

      1. Haha… I remember my parents and I being stoned as we went into the theatre. Which was then set on fire of course.

  15. The embassy was of course playing to the Big Dog in Washington. I’m sure that those hapless putzes thought that they were acting in accordance with Obama’s bow-first-and-ask-questions-later “Smart Diplomacy” and were merely covering their asses.

    If the embassy had any stones, they would have said something like this, and silently dared Obama to challenge it: “The First Amendment allows our citizens to say obnoxious things like this. We are prohibited from interfering with such free speech.”

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