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Despite the administration's spin, the mobs in the Middle East hate the U.S.
WHILE PROTESTERS in Islamic countries around the world burned U.S. flags and shouted "Death to America," White House spokesman Jay Carney continued to insist their rage was in response "not to U.S. policy, not--obviously--to the administration, and certainly not to the American people," but simply to "the film."
Really? Then how does Mr. Carney account for the shouts in Cairo, "Obama, Obama, there are still a billion Osamas"? Does he really think that resentment of the United States has appreciably waned with the "hope and change" administration? That drone attacks (however effective) and 10 years of war (however justified) have endeared us to large blocs of the resentment-wallowing Arab world?
Unfortunately, Mr. Carney isn't the only administration official using make-believe brushstrokes to paint a portrait of the protests. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, appearing on several networks on Sunday, claimed that the unrest was a spontaneous reaction to the YouTube film trailer "The Innocence of Muslims" and had nothing to do with U.S. foreign policy. In doing so, she contradicted Libyan President Mohamed Yousef El-Magariaf, who alluded to clear evidence of premeditation in the Sept. 11 attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Libya, and mentioned indications of al-Qaida involvement.
It's clear that terrorist groups use flash points such as the YouTube video to incite mobs and cause havoc. But resentment in the Muslim world goes deeper than any 17-minute film. Fouad Ajami of Stanford, writing in The Washington Post, points out that in that population pride is easily offended because "[a] vast chasm separates the poor standing of Arabs in the world today from their history of greatness." Lashing out against the West--particularly the United States, bellwether of modernity and enabler of hated Israel--comes easy.
There's no doubt that the offensive video is, indeed, in bad taste. It is always poor form to mock another's religion. (Ironically, Jesus of Nazareth, considered a Messenger of God in Islam, gets more respect from radical Muslims than from the trashier sort of secularists in the West.) As the old saying goes, when you sling mud, you not only get yourself dirty, you lose a lot of ground.
Yet such stuff falls within the American tradition of free speech, a concept completely Martian to many in the Muslim world. The Obama administration pressured Google, parent company of YouTube, to remove the video, but Google has chosen instead to simply block it in Muslim countries where it is already illegal and in Egypt and Libya, where protests continue. Good for Google for sticking up for the First Amendment. Capitulating to bullies never works for long.
But let's not get sidetracked. In times of crisis, a clear-eyed view of reality is essential. Those mobs in the Middle East? They're protesting a lot more than just a YouTube video.
The road that runs in front of Spotsylvania High School is Lake Anna Parkway. It was misidentified in Sunday's editorial.