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an excerpt from an opinion piece in washingtonpost
Obama should have condemned what Jones wanted to do, but defended unequivocally his right to do it. |
In response to calls for censorship from around the world, he should have explained clearly that the U.S. president doesn't have that power -- and that he's glad he doesn't. He should have declared that America is great in part because its people are free to study the Bible or the Torah or the Koran or the Constitution -- and, yes, within very wide limits, to burn them in protest. He might have added that many Muslim-majority countries could themselves benefit from more such freedom of thought, speech and expression.
Instead, he offered the tepid affirmation, in an interview with ABC News, that "part of this country's history is people doing destructive or offensive or harmful things. And yet, we still have to make sure that we're following the laws. And that's part of what I love about this country."
Instead, the president of the United States broadcast his fear that a U.S. citizen's exercise of his liberty will provoke Muslim violence -- without even calling upon Muslims to refrain from such attacks, much less declaring that they would be completely unjustified, and correspondingly resisted.
Worst of all, Obama set a precedent for presidentially-encouraged self-censorship based on the anticipated mood swings of mobs and fanatics.