Mohamed Morsi, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and now Egypt’s president, told the New York Times that it was up to Washington to repair relations with the Arab world and to revitalize the alliance with Egypt. But, he added, there is a price to pay. America must fundamentally change its approach to the Arab world, showing greater respect for its values, even when doing so conflicts with Western values.
What a deal.
A Response I Hope Morsi Will Get from President Obama
My sentiments about Mr. Morsi’s demands are similar to those of Rick Moran, writing at PJ Media: Sure. We’d like nothing better than to join President Morsi and the rest of the Arab world in re-living the 14th century by abandoning our closely held, hard fought and cherished values and adopting those values embraced by the Arabs…I would rather have us adopt the values of a tribe of New Guinea cannibals than your anti-liberty, anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-human worldview. (See “Egypt’s Morsi Gives US ‘Terms’ for Our Capitulation,” PJ Media, September 23, 2012.)
I’m confident our president won’t consent to the idea that our own non-violent communications that Islamics occasionally find offensive constitute hate speech or warrant suppression in this or any other democratic society.
I have a suggestion for President Obama concerning Morsi’s offer – unfriend Egypt. Let’s keep our money. By doing so, we’ll preserve our First Amendment rights of free expression, even if such speech does not please Mr. Morsi or millions of other religious fanatics. I’m afraid there are too many opinions common in the Western world that conflict with Middle Eastern Islamic values, including an inclination to keep women covered head-to=toe in burlap sacks. One wishes this were the only Muslim value at odds with our own. Alas, it is not even remotely the most repulsive of Muslim values.
I think American voters will insist on keeping their rights to criticize, lampoon or draw cartoons, if they so desire, and otherwise express themselves freely on all topics, including politics, sex and yes, religion too. And maintaining their rights to do so in ways that are not necessarily respectful.
Freedom of Speech: A Right with Obligations
Free speech warrants a decent understanding by all who embrace and enjoy it. It is a learned value – it takes a bit of knowledge to know how to defend, protect and preserve the right to speak (and write, post, video and film, tweet and otherwise communicate) without censorship or prosecution. Freedom of speech requires that citizens who enjoy it also possess the skills to explain it and a level of education and degree of practice in order to explain the nature and merits of it effectively. On some occasions, freedom of speech also requires courage from those who have it.
Yet, even here in what we proclaim in our anthem is the land of the free and home of the brave, protecting the right to offend is an increasingly tough sell. A disturbing 43 percent of Americans do not think people should be allowed to say things in public that might be offensive to religious groups, according to a 2009 survey conducted by the First Amendment Center. These people would agree with President Morsi that we should go along (with less freedom) to get along (with Egypt and Islamists).
What Robert Green Ingersoll said of reason also applies to freedom of speech: I admit that (freedom of speech) is a feeble flame, a flickering torch by stumblers carried in the starless night, blown and flayed by passion’s storms and yet, it is the only light. Extinguish it and nought remains.
Free speech has always been blown and flayed by passions storms; we owe so much to the Thomas Paynes, Clarence Darrows and Robert Ingersolls who have defended it in times of maximum danger. Since this may be such a time, let’s do our part and let Mr. Morsi and our own leaders who deal with him and other Islamists who would have us surrender certain foundation liberties in order not to offend their tender and not so likable sensibilities.