Another Islamist Assault, Another Western Cringe

by Daniel Pipes, The Boston Herald

Attacks on Tuesday against American missions in Cairo and Benghazi fit into a familiar pattern of Islamist intimidation and Western appeasement that goes back to the Salman Rushdie affair in 1989. The Obama administration’s supine response to the murder of American diplomats increases the likelihood of further such assaults.

The Rushdie crisis suddenly erupted when the ruler of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, put a death edict on a novelist for having written a magical realist novel, The Satanic Verses, declaring that the book was “against Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran.” That incident was then followed by a long list of similar assaults – concerning a U.S. Supreme Court frieze in 1997, American evangelical leader Jerry Falwell in 2002, Newsweek in 2005, the Danish cartoons in 2006, Pope Benedict XVI also in 2006, Florida preacher Terry Jones in 2010, and U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan early in 2012. In each of these cases, the perceived insult to Islam led to acts of violence, sometimes against Westerners but more often among Muslims themselves.

Indeed, the 2010 incident caused some 19 deaths in Afghanistan, prompting David Goldman, then of First Things magazine, to observe that “a madman carrying a match and a copy of the Koran can do more damage to the Muslim world than a busload of suicide bombers.… What’s the dollar value of the damage from a used paperback edition of the Koran?” Goldman speculated how intelligence services could learn from Jones and, for a few dollars, sow widespread anarchy.

So far, the 2012 spasm has led to four American deaths, with more possibly to follow. Jones (with his “International Judge Muhammad Day“) and Sam Bacile (who may not exist but is alleged to have created the anti-Islamic video that mainly inspired this 9/11’s violence) can not only cause deaths at will but they can also put a wrench in U.S.-Egypt relations and even become a factor in a U.S. presidential election.

As for the Obama administration: acting in its usual appeasing and apologetic mode, it blamed the critics of Islam. “The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims. … We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.” Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton(“The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others”) and Barack Obama (“the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others”) confirmed the initial cringe.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney rightly retorted that “It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.” This argument has very large implications, not so much for the elections (Iran is the key foreign policy issue there) but because such weakness incites Islamists again to attack, both to close down criticism of Islam and to impose one aspect of Shari’a, or Islamic law, on the West.

Terry Jones, Sam Bacile, and their future imitators know how to goad Muslims to violence, embarrass Western governments, and move history. In response, Islamists know how to exploit Jones, et al. The only way to stop this cycle is for governments to stand firmly on principle: “Citizens have freedom of speech, which specifically means the right to insult and annoy. The authorities will protect this right. Muslims do not enjoy special privileges but are subject to the same free-speech rules as everyone else. Leave us alone.”

Mr. Pipes ( is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2012 by Daniel Pipes.

September 13, 2012 | 7 Comments »

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7 Comments / 7 Comments

  1. Smash the evil of Islam and stop the apologizing, cow towing and pandering to their garbage. Evil will continue it’s attacks until
    it is taken out.

  2. I read today that the same movie which supposedly “provoked” this Muslim violence was first released on YouTube back in July. But on one Sept 11 did these riots against America begin. I believe this was all planned beforehand.

  3. “Muslim protesters clash with Egyptian police near US Embassy in Cairo, others break into German Embassy in Sudan, while violence spreads to Tripoli, Lebanon during visit by Pope Benedict” (FOX NEWS.)
    Now comes Yemen, and the southern tip of Saudi Aarabia and so on.
    When will they ever learn?
    Probably never, especially when your middle name is Hussein (Chamberlain), and you are surrounded by “Tuches lekkers Judenrat Jews”.
    Ira Curtis.

  4. @ Larry Shapiro:not ted but: they could have demded that ALL the perpetrators be brought to trial fro murder in libya, demand damages paid and fullprosecution in egypt, demand full and proper protection for embassy, end the 3 billion a year bribe and instead give israel the money to beef up its military. But then who can imagine that?

  5. I have never been an advocate of classic War responses to the Islamic beasts attacks.
    Wars are to be reserved for the resolution of confrontational situations between civilized societies, if at all.
    With regards of Islamic assaults, a cult of death operations, usually isolated, our strategies have been intentionally distorted by elements not identified with the Western Civilization.
    Invasions or military onslaughts are the incorrect format of response.
    Far more effective would have been to defend Civilization by attacking Islam at the level that Islamist cultists understand.
    For examples…
    As Islamic hordes or teams ATTACK Churches, Buddhist temples, Synagogues, Embassies, etc
    The countries so assaulted MUST destroy Muslim mosques, teaching centers, Icons, embassies, etc.
    Islamic murder of other religions people, destruction of trains, clubs, halls, buildings, aircraft, etc
    Islamic people from which the attacker originate, must be decimated in return and ot their trains, ships, ports, aircraft.
    Islam must be attacked at the level they choose to attack Civilization.
    That must be done by performing single and extremely violent counterattacks.
    Should Islamic forces attack water or food supplies,
    They must be deprived of those facilities as well.

    Western Civilization does not have much time to effect corrective actions.