By ARNOLD A. AUGUSTE, Publisher/Senior Editor
U.S. Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, has been having a very bad week. At least, that is what those of us who want to see him lose the upcoming election to President Barack Obama believe and we couldn’t be happier.
Of course, his supporters think otherwise. Some of them. Others seem to be running for the hills.
When news broke that huge protests against a film demeaning to the Prophet Muhammad were taking place in Benghazi, Libya, and that the U.S. consulate there was under attack, and that a statement had been release from the consulate condemning the film, Romney immediately blamed the Administration for apologizing to terrorists.
Wrong! The statement was released by someone at the consulate ostensibly in the hope that it would calm the demonstrators. Romney’s supporters were among the first to slam him for this. He was seen as trying to score political points while Americans were under attack.
Then came the release of another video, this one showing Romney at a $50,000-per-person dinner (wonder what they serve for that price) demeaning almost half of the American population (47 per cent) as being leeches. Or something like that. Actually, he said those were the people who will vote for the President no matter what because they depend on government handouts. He called them victims who don’t pay taxes so his tax reform policies won’t interest them and said they would not take responsibility for themselves. He also said a bunch of other things, such as if his father was Latino, it might have been easier for him to win the election. (Was he admitting that he won’t win?)
The fact is, many of the people who don’t pay any federal taxes are older White folks who don’t have to pay taxes on their pensions and who benefit from such government programs as Medicare. These are typically Romney’s supporters, not the President’s. Until now, that is. Maybe they will rethink political choices. But, for now, he has some explaining to do.
So far, he has decided that he will stand by the essence of what he said and has, to quote the various talking heads, doubled down, meaning he has decided to stick to this message.
It could help him among some of his base, many of whom have been looking for some sign of a backbone from him; for some sense that he could take a position and stand by it. This, however, might not be the right one.
But back to that film about the Prophet. In recent years, we have come to know how sensitive the Muslim world is regarding Muhammad. We also know that they have very low tolerance for the West. So, why are people allowed to antagonize them?
I understand the concept of free speech in Western democracies such as ours and appreciate the value we place on it. But, are there no exceptions? No limitations? For example, take the old saw about not shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre, isn’t that an exception?
Judging from the way some have actually defended this film which, from all accounts, seems to be a piece of trash, why are we defending it in the name of free speech?
Of course, we shouldn’t be walking on egg shells in fear that anything we say or do can incite violence and hatred, but aren’t we able to curb obvious violations such as this airhead of a pastor in Florida who seems to take pleasure in burning the Koran?
I also found it interesting that the consensus in some quarters is that the attacks on the Libyan consulate, as they are in other countries where protests are on-going, were not a result of the film but were pre-planned in spite of the fact that the protesters themselves have claimed repeatedly that they are responding to the film, whether they saw it or not.
One of the reasons for this conclusion is that they came prepared with heavy weaponry. Couldn’t it be that these people are constantly plotting and preparing themselves to attack not only Western interests but also their own governments and, as such, were well placed to join the demonstrations for their own purposes? Couldn’t it be that they saw an opportunity to infiltrate the crowd and just took it?
The point of the efforts to find evidence that these attacks were pre-planned is to show up the Obama Administration as being unprepared to defend American interests abroad. Don’t buy into it. Obama’s record of defending the U.S. and its interests is exemplary. It just might turn out that the staff at the consulate themselves didn’t think they were in any danger since they had such a good rapport with the Libyans, as has been reported, and that they didn’t see the need to have – or call for – more protection.