Thursday, February 09, 2006

Hezbollah leader tells Bush and Rice to "shut up."

An AP wire story reports that in Beirut, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah has urged Muslims around keep demonstrating until the European papers apologize for printing cartoons of the prophet Muhammad and European countries pass laws forbidding insults to the prophet. I agree that it's reasonable to demand an apology (but unreasonable to expect one.) As to demanding that Europe pass laws infringing on free speech, well... hell, no. I'll say it again: the offending cartoons should never have been printed, but the fools who printed them should have been allowed to do so. That's a Western value, and even though the provocation of the world's Muslims was short-sighted and pointless, there's no cause to surrender our freedoms just for a little peace. It's the same thing as, say, allowing a government to conduct unauthorized wiretaps on its own citizens.

Now speaking of foolish actions, let's talk about Condoleezza Rice, who yesterday said that Iran and Syria "have gone out of their way to inflame sentiments and to use this to their own purposes. And the world ought to call them on it." While she may be right that Iran and Syria are going out of their way to inflame sentiments and to exploit this scandal, she's dead wrong that the world ought to call them on it. Calling Iran and Syria on this will only serve to stoke the fires and to drag the United States into a mess that we, for once, weren't responsible for.

The best thing to do is to let this die out. We lend strength to the violent protesters by recognizing what they're doing. It was Jyllands-Posten that started this, and it's Denmark's Jyllands-Posten that should be held accountable. The American government isn't doing anyone any favors by taking a position on this, and it certainly isn't helping itself, considering how much bad will was garnered by our attacking Iraq, as well as his unforgettable "crusade" rhetoric.

So please, Ms. Rice and Mr. Bush, for once will you bow out and cease pouring kerosene on this brushfire? It would serve the Muslim world very well if you would just shut up. The Western world would benefit, as well. Really, sometimes the best possible use of free speech is to just shut up.

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