"Anti-Muslim images are as unacceptable as anti-Semitic images," which are routinely published in the Arab press, "as anti-Christian images, or any other religious belief."That's exactly right, isn't it? We ought to care about what religious persons regard as offensive, but we need also to support the right of individuals to speak even when it is offensive. And, of course, those who want us to care about the offense to their religious sensibilities ought to demonstrate their commitment to decent values. It's bad enough when they don't support free speech. (They should argue against the speech, not try to suppress it.) But when they descend into violence and threats of violence, they utterly surrender the high ground. The demands for respect that would have won many sympathetic supporters lose all effect in that ugly form. The most you can hope for is fear and retreat, which you don't deserve and you aren't going to get.
Still, the United States defended the right of the Danish and French newspapers to publish the cartoons. "We vigorously defend the right of individuals to express points of view," Mr. McCormack added.
February 3, 2006
Said one preacher in Gaza about those cartoons depicting Muhammad. Meanwhile, a U.S. State Department spokesman read an official statement: