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InsiderOnline Blog: September 2012

Appeasement Still Does Not Work

On Tuesday, the U.S. embassy in Cairo addressed the controversy over a film produced privately in the United States that portrayed the prophet Muhammad as a child molester and gay by issuing this statement:

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. […] We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others. [Embassy of the United States, Cairo, Egypt, September 11]

That was before a mob attacked the embassy, and before another mob did the same in Benghazi, killing the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. About this idea that the U.S. government can reject the constitutionally protected actions of private citizens, Jesse Walker observes:

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. [, September 12]

Advice from Winston Churchill:

Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. [Winston Churchill, address to the students of Harrow, November 29, 1941]

Posted on 09/12/12 02:21 PM by Alex Adrianson

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