Saturday, May 31, 2014

Hillary wants to turn the feature of American free speech into the bug of "why do they hate us?"

That was the problem with the Obama political strategy on Benghazi in the first place and it is chilling that so many Americans are willing to tank the First Amendment.

Clinton will need the help. Based on the excerpts from the leaked chapter published in Politico, she risks revisiting the biggest public diplomacy mistake of her career.

It's all about the video -- specifically, a promotional trailer for a planned film called "The Innocence of Muslims," which Islamist extremists fished from YouTube obscurity and used to fire up mobs across the Middle East and South Asia to facilitate planned terrorist attacks against U.S. interests.

By repeating -- and defending -- the now-debunked claim that the video was to blame for the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Clinton risks a renewed focus on the shameful manner in which she and President Obama handled the Benghazi disaster.

The war against Islamist extremism is as much a war of ideas as it is one of special operations raids and drone strikes, and in this case the administration surrendered unconditionally.

After the attacks, Clinton and Obama fiercely condemned the video multiple times, and even spent $70,000 on television ads in Pakistan condemning it.

The maker of the video, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, was arrested on a probation violation and jailed for a year. A pastor of a small church in rural Florida got a phone call from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff urging him to withdraw his support for the film.

But what they didn't do was make clear why the First Amendment protections of religious freedom -- including freedom from religion -- and free speech are so important to Americans.

Their vague lip service to the values on which those freedoms are based never even came close to explaining why Americans are willing to tolerate harsh, offensive, even deliberately deceptive criticism of ideas -- and why people in the Islamic world should do the same.

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