Robert Knight

The French government asked the magazine to desist, but didn’t use force. Likewise, the White House asked its Google/YouTube friends to forget freedom of speech for a minute and pull the plug on the “Innocence of Muslims” video. To its credit, Google refused, except in Libya, Sudan, Indonesia and other Muslim hot spots. I don’t have friends or family facing the mobs, so I’m not going to indulge in First Amendment absolutism. But it leaves a bad taste and sets a dangerous precedent: Threaten and even kill some Americans and you’ll get your way. The lesson instead should be: Kill some Americans and face immediate consequences.

Why did Egypt and Libya not protect our citizens and property until, in the case of Benghazi, it was too late? Why didn’t the United States itself act when we knew our people were in danger? We have what’s left of the Sixth Fleet patrolling the Mediterranean. And our direct intervention to protect Americans from Muslim extremists goes all the way back to Thomas Jefferson dispatching the Navy in 1801-1804 against the Barbary Pirates, who were capturing and enslaving Americans.

Why weren’t Marines stationed at the consulate in Benghazi? One answer I heard a reporter offer was that the Obama administration did not want to give the Libyans the impression that we were stationing troops in their newly liberated country. Never mind that Marines are fixtures – for good reason – on our sovereign soil at consulates and embassies “from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.”

Here’s another question about the video being the singular reason for the violence. In 2008, Bill Maher’s flop movie “Religulous,” which ridicules Christianity, also shined a harsh light on Islam. This did not trigger mobs. Could it be that in the case of “Innocence of Muslims,” someone wanted to ignite violence on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and that the presence of grenade launchers and other sophisticated weapons should have tipped off the Obama Administration that this was anything but spontaneous?

As usual, the “mainstream” media parroted the administration’s damage control. After initially reporting the assault on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, the press turned its laser-like focus on … Mitt Romney. The Republican presidential nominee had criticized the U.S. embassy’s initial statement that said it “condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.” Really? Then why didn’t anyone in the government condemn the film called “Paradise: Faith,” a prize winner at the Venice film festival that features a Catholic woman pleasuring herself with a crucifix? I think we know the answer.

In the face of the administration’s Muslim outreach policy melting down, the media managed to make Mr. Romney’s “gaffe” the big story for days, until they switched to the “47 percent” remarks he made months ago about too many Americans being dependent on government. In the midst of the crisis, Barack Obama flew off to Vegas for a fundraiser, but that story didn’t have “legs.”

The media also pointed out repeatedly that alleged film maker “Sam Bacile,” who originally claimed to be an “Israeli-American,” was a “Coptic Christian.”

Maybe that’s his origin, but for people concerned about inciting mobs, this was a curious thing to highlight. Egypt’s minority Coptic Christian community is being persecuted daily and may be facing what has happened to Iraq’s Christian community – death or exile.

If Coptic Christians come under the murderous ministrations of Muslim extremists in the next few days, will the media blame their own reporting? I think we know the answer to that one, too. They’re just exercising freedom of speech.

Americans should learn important lessons from the way the Muslim mob violence has been officially handled and reported.

One of those lessons is that propaganda comes in many forms. Another is that the First Amendment is not just for safe speech.


Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.