The American Interest

Muslim Rage and American Folly

The U.S. State Department has effectively sided with militant Islam by condemning the decision of newspapers in Denmark, Norway, and elsewhere in Europe to publish cartoon drawings depicting Muhammad, the founder of Islam. On February 3, State Department press officer Janelle Hironimus told reporters, “Inciting religious or ethnic hatred in this manner is not acceptable. We call for tolerance and respect for all communities and for their religious beliefs and practices.”

Miss Hironimus and her bosses at Foggy Bottom are guilty of a colossal blunder. Their fault is fourfold: First, the cartoons in question did not incite any hatred, religious or ethnic. Muhammad telling suicide bombers arriving in heaven that he has ran out of virgins, or wearing a turban containing a bomb, is somewhat funny and mildly satirical.

Second, it is not the job of a foreign ministry to pass judgments on cultural matters or to set standards of “acceptability”; its job is to promote the country’s interests around the world. In this particular case, those interests entail siding with our fellow Westerners in defending freedom of speech against crude intimidation by our common enemies.

Third, the U.S. government did not comment when far worse cases of inciting religious and ethnic hatred occurred here in America—notably, when an NEA- funded “artist” submerged a crucifix in urine or when the...

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