President Barack Obama addressed the General Assembly at the United Nations on Tuesday and denounced the anti-Muslim online film trailer made by a southern California resident, calling it “disgusting” and “crude.” At the same time the president said the online video should not be used as an excuse by others to incite violence. He also noted that the U.S. Constitution protects American citizens’ right to free speech, so banning such material would not be legally possible. One particular part of the president’s speech that became highlighted was the passage below :
The future must not belong to those who target Coptic Christians in Egypt – it must be claimed by those in Tahrir Square who chanted “Muslims, Christians, we are one.” The future must not belong to those who bully women – it must be shaped by girls who go to school, and those who stand for a world where our daughters can live their dreams just like our sons. The future must not belong to those corrupt few who steal a country’s resources – it must be won by the students and entrepreneurs; workers and business owners who seek a broader prosperity for all people. Those are the men and women that America stands with; theirs is the vision we will support.
“The President made clear in his remarks to the UN General Assembly that the obligation to speak out against slander should apply equally to all. I refer you to the quote below from the President’s remarks,” wrote White House press office spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan in an e-mail statement in response to my inquiry as to why the President and the rest of the White House did not denounce the denigration of Christianity from Andre Serrano’s “Piss Christ” piece that just went on display again in Manhattan:
The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. But to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see in the images of Jesus Christ that are desecrated, or churches that are destroyed, or the Holocaust that is denied. Let us condemn incitement against Sufi Muslims and Shiite pilgrims. It’s time to heed the words of Gandhi: “Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit. Together, we must work towards a world where we are strengthened by our differences, and not defined by them. That is what America embodies, that’s the vision we will support.
The White House responses on the Middle East unrest have become a chicken and egg scenario and continue to go back and forth as to whether or not the movie trailer sparked the chaos or if the deadly attacks and protests were pre-planned.
In his UN speech today, President Obama blamed the “outrage throughout the Muslim world” on the “crude and disgusting video” : (bolding is mine)
At time, the conflicts arise along the fault lines of race or tribe. And often they arise from the difficulties of reconciling tradition and faith with the diversity and interdependence of the modern world. In every country, there are those who find different religious beliefs threatening; in every culture, those who love freedom for themselves must ask themselves how much they’re willing to tolerate freedom for others.
That is what we saw play out in the last two weeks, as a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world. Now, I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity.
It is an insult not only to Muslims, but to America as well — for as the city outside these walls makes clear, we are a country that has welcomed people of every race and every faith. We are home to Muslims who worship across our country. We not only respect the freedom of religion, we have laws that protect individuals from being harmed because of how they look or what they believe. We understand why people take offense to this video because millions of our citizens are among them.