The true scandal here — and it’s an unforgivable scandal — is that U.S. government officials indulged in gratuitous art criticism in an effort to appease the hurt feelings of Muslims. Why go down that road? Well, this film insults Muhammad, and it’s got bad acting and sloppy camera work, so we’re against it, but that one has top-notch production values, so we’ll stand by its anti-Islam message as a legitimate expression of artistic freedom. Even if “Innocence of Muslims” had provoked the Benghazi attack — which we now know it did not — the video wouldn’t be the problem. It should never have entered into the discussion. The problem isn’t the object; it’s the response. Which is just another way of saying, either you buy into the Enlightenment, or you don’t. Either your actions are restrained by reason and tolerance, or they’re not. Americans want to know when the war against Islamic totalitarianism will end. Here’s the answer: When Muslims everywhere have learned to take an insult like everyone else.
The president, however, seems to believe that Muslims are a special case, that they have to be coddled and consoled, that they have to be reassured that the U.S. government is properly offended on their behalf … because, you know, they just don’t get things. As Obama told the U.N., “I know it is hard for some people around the world to understand why the United States doesn’t just completely shut down this video.”
Hmm, if that’s hard for “some people” to understand, imagine how confused they must have been by footage of Nakoula flanked by cops as he was perp-walked on suspicion of violating his probation on unrelated bank fraud charges. Think that might have looked like he was being arrested for making “Innocence of Muslims”?
The Obama administration’s spineless, sniveling, Siskel-and-Ebert response to the terrorist attack in Benghazi was its most shameful moment — worse than any of its policy blunders — because they threw the Enlightenment itself under the bus. It was the most shameful moment by any administration since Richard Nixon boarded that helicopter on August 9, 1974. If it costs Obama re-election, justice will have been served, and he will have no one to blame but himself.
Mark Goldblatt is the author of “Bumper Sticker Liberalism.” He teaches at Fashion Institute of Technology (SUNY).