Those who seek to portray President Obama as the leader of the “blame America first” crowd got a little ahead of themselves last week.
As Mitt Romney rushed to a microphone to condemn the Obama administration for its response to vandalism and heated protests outside the American Embassy in Egypt, he failed to acknowledge, much less unpack, even the slightest nuance of the situation.
Hard-line Muslims in the Middle East were outraged, as they are wont to do rather frequently, by an amateurish video posted online portraying the prophet Mohammad as an imbecilic pedophile.
We’ll set aside what the response would be from the Christian right were the religious shoes swapped in this equation. I concede it wouldn’t be massive violent protests but it would be quite severe. After all, we’re talking about a part of America that is fighting an imaginary war over Christmas.
But let’s dissect the Muslim outrage and the response RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said was “sympathizing with attackers in Egypt.”
First, I’ll offer the full context of the statement made by the American Embassy in Cairo:
“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. ... 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.”
Mitt Romney’s response:
“It’s a terrible course for America to stand in apology for our values.”
Excuse me? Since when is religious tolerance not an American value?
This isn’t a question of a president’s foreign policy — it’s much more basic than that. This is a question about how we want the rest of the world to view us. I, for one, applaud diplomats who, rather than hunker down and hurl invectives at those who dare question America’s free-speaking ways, instead encourage civility and attempt to foster understanding where there is presently only conflict.