The only religion for which liberals make excuses is the most illiberal one -- Islam. While they interpret Christianity in the worst possible light -- the Obama administration places Catholic and Evangelical opponents of gay marriage in the same moral category as racists -- they cast Islam in the rosiest one. It is a "great religion," pronounced Hillary Clinton last week, even as its adherents set fire to embassies and cheered the killing of U.S. diplomats and Navy Seals.
The more violence Islam produces, the more liberals insist it is "peaceful." The cravenness would be comic were its implications not so serious. Last week self-styled Voltairean liberals, who normally gush about the glories of free speech, popped up on mindless morning shows to endorse the imprisonment of Islam's critics. MSNBC pundit Mike Barnicle encouraged the Justice Department to round up Florida pastor Terry Jones as an "accessory" to crimes. Barnicle's colleagues appeared untroubled by his fascistic suggestion. One even chimed in that "I was thinking the same thing."
So much for fighting to the death for free speech. Nor did anyone in the Obama administration, chock-a-block full of former ACLU staffers, balk at the administration's pressure on YouTube to take down the "Innocence of Muslims" video. Suddenly limits on art make sense to liberals. The Obama administration didn't succeed, but they certainly tried. Perhaps while they are it they should ask Barnes and Noble to confiscate all copies of Dante's Inferno, as he places Mohammed in hell.
Since when has the left cared about the dangers of free speech? Art is "provocation," liberals lectured Americans appalled by Andres Serrano's crucifix-in-urine photographs. Free speech should be "robust," they used to say, so as to dislodge important truths.
But now the "feelings" of viewers are paramount, provided that the viewers are Muslims, not Christians. Obama supporter Tom Hanks, who has called Christian opponents of gay marriage "un-American," had no problem acting out the vile lies of Dan Brown.
The RPG-wielding terrorists in Libya hadn't seen the YouTube video and it is not clear that they even have human feelings. No matter. The Obama administration is sticking to this story, as it absolves the president of the bloody fiasco's real causes: his gross lack of security vigilance on a 9/11 anniversary and his utterly naïve approach to militant Islam. This national humiliation derives in large part from his preference for anti-American Muslim democracies to pro-American dictators. Just as Carter preferred popular ayatollahs to unpopular monarchs, so Obama prefers the Muslim Brotherhood to the Mubaraks.
The grim irony in all his blather about the "Arab Spring" is that it didn't even involve the promotion of Islam's moderate, pro-American variants. Moderate Muslims have persistently complained that the Obama administration tends to side with democratically-elected theocrats over them.
Due to his reflexive Islamophilia, Obama will never acknowledge Islam's role in terrorism. Muslim terrorists have shot up a military base at Fort Hood, tried to blow up a plane over Detroit, attempted to bomb tourists in Times Square, and now killed our diplomats abroad. Meanwhile, Eric Holder refuses to let Justice Department officials identify "radical Islam" as a motive for terrorism and Obama security adviser John Brennan holds that jihad is a harmless concept of self-improvement "meaning to purify oneself or one's community."
Obama says that America must not compromise its "values" in pursuit of the enemy, even as he sells out the First Amendment to jihadists. He will let America's enemies define the limits of free speech.
One should not shout fire in a crowded theater, defenders of the president might say. But actually Oliver Wendell Holmes said this admonition only applied to "falsely shouting fire in a theater." The thrust of hate-crime-style liberalism is to prevent people from shouting fire when the theater is actually burning. Liberals prefer the suspension of free speech to the expression of certain unpleasant truths that they do not want to hear lest those truths contradict state propaganda.
What makes speech about Islam "irresponsible" to them is not that it is false but that it is true. Muslim mobs dragging diplomats through the streets and torching embassies conformed perfectly to the stereotype to which they were allegedly objecting.
According to the Obama administation, we are not supposed to notice the smoke from these burning embassies lest it lead us to shout fire about Islam's theology of jihad. That's, as Hillary's embassy officials in Cairo might say, an "abuse" of free speech.