The "enlightened" who claim a firm grip on the steering wheel of Western civilization see the future through a lens in which man becomes ever more perfectible as outdated religious creeds fade away. And thus the irony. For all the contempt these cosmopolitans show for religion, there is one faith beyond public rebuke. Call it Islamic exceptionalism.
Public Enemy No. 1 right now is the man who made a ridiculously shoddy YouTube video titled "The Innocence of Muslims." This man and his so-called "film" have been blamed with a very broad brush for every riot and protest across the Mideast.
It is all so ... impossible. This video sat unwatched for months until an Egyptian television station decided to promote it as some kind of global insult. Not you, not anyone you know and not anyone they know ever heard of this. But when the "Arab street" decided to stage riots outside American embassies, our government derided "continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims -- as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions."
Susan Rice, our ambassador to the United Nations, even wrongly blamed the terrorist attack that killed our ambassador and three others in Libya on the video. She told ABC News it was "a direct result of a heinous and offensive video that was widely disseminated, that the U.S. government had nothing to do with, which we have made clear is reprehensible and disgusting."
The Obama administration asked YouTube to review whether it should be censored, since it may have violated the website's terms of service. Its maker was publicly outed and dragged by a posse of armed cops into a "voluntary" session with his federal probation officers in Los Angeles.
This is the exact opposite of the way the so-called "progressive" elites usually toast the eviscerators of religion in Hollywood and Manhattan.
Rather than condemn attacks on all religions as "reprehensible and disgusting," they usually honor the courage of the artist who put ants on Christ's crucifix, or sinks it in a vial of urine, or smears dung on an image of the Virgin Mary. As part of their arrogant dance on behalf of "artistic freedom," the cosmopolitans not only insist these artists are to be honored, but they demand and expect Christian taxpayers to subsidize them.
As a carpet-bagging candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in New York in 1999, Hillary Clinton was no Profile in Outrage. After several days of silence after Chris Ofili's dung-smeared Virgin Mary hit the fan when it was displayed at the taxpayer-funded Brooklyn Museum, Mrs. Clinton announced, "Our feelings of being offended should not lead to the penalizing and shutting down of an entire museum."
Last year, the AP reported Mrs. Clinton attended a showing of "The Book of Mormon" on Broadway from the strenuously religion-bashing "South Park" creators, apparently without holding a press conference before or after the musical to declare "We condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions."
Islamic exceptionalism really showed its ugly head when the elites started arguing in national newspapers that the video creator should be jailed. On September 13, USA Today put forward religion professor Anthea Butler to declare she wouldn't have jailed the makers of "The Last Temptation of Christ," but she would jail the anti-Muslim director because he "indirectly and inadvertently inflamed people half a world away, resulting in the deaths of U.S. Embassy personnel."
That's not only factually untrue, since we've learned the Libya attack had nothing to do with YouTube. It grants Muslim radicals a permit to jail any artist they feel has insulted Islam. And what of the millions of Christians insulted by that hideous Jesus movie?
Even so-called journalists have supported censorship. Sarah Chayes, NPR's past Paris Bureau Chief for six years, wrote in the Los Angeles Times on September 18 that his video was "not, arguably, free speech protected under the U.S. Constitution" because it inflames radicals half a world away. In her long experience in Afghanistan, she has seen Pakistani radicals use any "pretext" for riots -- and she wants those "pretexts" removed from the Internet.
She calls the video "speech that is deliberately tailored to put lives and property at immediate risk." Like many Islamic exceptionalists, she claimed "heightened volatility" in the Mideast demands a crackdown: "such provocation is certainly irresponsible -- and reveals an ironic alliance of convenience between Christian extremists and the Islamist extremists they claim to hate."
One satirist put this hyperbole in perspective. Fouad Ajami recounted a mock Twitter statement by Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, presently butchering his Muslim subjects. "Wow, it's good that I've been killing women and children. It's good I've been shelling mosques," said the fake tweet. "Imagine what would have happened had I made an anti-Muslim video. They would have really come after me."
L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center.
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