September 14, 2012

"Secretary Clinton Delivers Powerful Religion Speech After Middle East Embassy Attacks."

That's the ABC News headline. Powerful Religion Speech. Really? Could you possibly just report the news and not tell us what to think? It's inane and pushy to characterize the speech as "powerful." Fortunately, we do have the text, and we can judge for ourselves how powerful it is:

“When Christians are subject to insults to their faith, and that certainly happens, we expect them not to resort to violence. When Hindus or Buddhists are subjected to insults to their faiths, and that also certainly happens, we expect them not to resort to violence,” said Clinton. “The same goes for all faiths, including Islam.”...

“I so strongly believe that the great religions of the world are stronger than any insults. They have withstood offense for centuries,” said Clinton. “Refraining from violence, then, is not a sign of weakness in one’s faith; it is absolutely the opposite, a sign that one’s faith is unshakable.”...

“We can pledge that whenever one person speaks out in ignorance and bigotry, ten voices will answer,” Clinton said forcefully. “They will answer resoundingly against the offense and the insult; answering ignorance with enlightenment; answering hatred with understanding; answering darkness with light.”
Note the proposition that insulting religion is necessarily ignorant. I wish Christopher Hitchens were alive to respond to that. Here is one of the chief subjects for difference of opinion among human beings, and it may very well be the best policy to shut up and let people believe what they want to believe because it's so upsetting to them to hear criticisms. But it's up to us individuals to decide whether we want to talk about it and make it a subject of debate.

I agree with Clinton that those who respond with violence are unwittingly displaying weakness, but I would say that the weakness is a legitimate fear that the religion is vulnerable to the arguments that can be stated in words. She says the weakness is in the violent person's faith. The strong person is not the one that can hear verbal arguments and participate in a civil conversation about religion. The strong person is the one whose faith is unshakable — who shuts out the challenges to his religion.

And where does Hillary Clinton get the authority to pledge that for every critic of religion there will be ten who speak in defense of religion? Or does she mean that for every ignoramus who speaks there will be ten reasonable, intelligent voices? Maybe some of the ignoramuses are speaking for religion and some of the civil voices are against it. In any case, the ignorant to reasonable ratio has never been 1 to 10, not at any time in any place in the history of humanity. To purport to pledge that it will somehow be so is — ironically — ignorant.
“In times like these, it can be easy to despair that some differences are irreconcilable, some mountains too steep to climb; we will therefore never reach the level of understanding and peacefulness that we seek, and which I believe the great religions of the world call us to pursue,” she reflected. “But that’s not what I believe, and I don’t think it’s what you believe… ”...
Oh, see? She believes. Unshakable faith — regardless of the evidence, in defiance of reason and experience.  We get faith-based assertions. Why should they be believed? Because you believe them?
Part of what makes our country so special is we keep trying. We keep working. We keep investing in our future....
Our country is so special. I suspect that she's feeling the pressure, during this election season, to embrace American exceptionalism, but I don't see how you persuade people in Egypt and Libya by proclaiming our specialness. We keep trying... working... investing... Suddenly, I feel like I'm back at the party conventions.

74 comments:

exhelodrvr1 said...

I feel very protective towards Hillary right now.

Matthew Sablan said...

This sounds like the statement she wanted to release before the embassy screwed it up. It walks the delicate balance between: Hey, don't riot and Yeah, that movie was insulting, deal with it, very well.

Kind of a shame that she's not in charge.

AprilApple said...

"Powerful" - that's not news - that's opinion.


We don't get the news anymore.

phx said...

I agree with that. The media is way out of control. It's even a little scary how $-centered they are, how poor their judgment in instances such as this.

Matthew Sablan said...

Phx: If they were money-focused, they would imitate media outlets that make money, as opposed to following the failing models of MSNBC, NYT and CNN. Since they do not, we can safely say money isn't their concern. Last I heard, FOX and the WSJ were doing well enough money wise, yet, oddly, have very few imitators.

Shouting Thomas said...

Althouse's appeals to "reason" leave me cold.

These appeals to "reason" have, as one of my favorite writers, Jim Kalb, says led to The Irony of '60s "Liberation": The Age of Aquarius Ushers in a Ruling Class of "Experts".

Titus said...

I found it very powerful.

tits.

Beta Rube said...

So slamming anti-gay marriage Christians is ignorant?

Does hat boy concur?

Christopher in MA said...

Could you possibly just report the news and not tell us what to think?

I have to say, Althouse, sometimes your naivete is rather charming.

The Drill SGT said...

Too preachy. In particular, in an official role at a semi-religious celebration.

She should go back and read the 1st Amendment, give a speach about how the rest of the world can learn from us and be more tolerant of others beliefs rather than expecting appeals to faith to sell her pitch.



furious_a said...

Too bad Sec'y Clinton didn't powerfully upgrade security measures at our Libyan and Egyptian diplomatic compounds with that 48-hour warning she had.

Lawler Walken said...

I don't think the rioters in the street and those who storm the embassy think they are responding from a position of weakness. They think they are acting out of a sense of courageous righteousness, taking the fight to the enemy and all that. To the extent they are even motivated by their religious beliefs at all, which I think is mostly offered up for western consumption. But even if they are inspired by their religious beliefs, they aren't weak if they don't consider themselves weak. And it's fairly clear that they don't.

And of course a Christian woman is really just the best messenger to the Muslims.

pduggie said...

Does Clinton know anything about how shame and honor work in the middle east?

I've always found it interesting that Islam, while certainly denying that Jesus was the Son of God for theological reasons, also denies that Jesus (who is revered as a prophet) died on the cross. Its too "offensive" to think that a great prophet of God could suffer the shameful death of crucifixion. God wouldn't allow such shame to happen.

You become like what you worship.

Bryan C said...

Wow, ABC didn't even bother to find and quote some random person who would say the speech was "powerful" (or "personal", later.)

Reporting is so much easier when you can be your own source.

It's a pretty good speech. Of course, the SoS has absolutely no role in approving or disapproving of any private citizen's speech about anything. I'm glad that the SoS supports the exercise of the First Amendment and recognizes the inalienable human rights it embodies. Thanks for clearing that up.

cubanbob said...

If we had a parliamentary form of government this administration would have been subject to a no confidence by now.

AaronS said...

Media lust.

Seeing Red said...

This world is getting surreal:

Drudge:

Jewish Council for Education and Research Super PAC is paying for Samuel’s (L. Jackson) prez ad: Wake the f@#k up!


The ad is a riff on Jackson’s viral video “Go the F--k to Sleep,” where he narrates a children’s book written by Adam Mansbach.

cubanbob said...

A week after the election, especially if Romney wins, the MSM will revert to being journalists in order to salvage what is left of their credibility. I suspect that it will be too little, too late.

AaronS said...

Any reasonably intelligent person could have given this speech. Heck, a middle schooler in a civics class probably wrote some version of this for an essay contest. The only difference is that Hillary has power and authority. So tell me what the media is impressed with.

Hagar said...

The attacks in Benghazi and Sanaa look like al Qaeda operations, that in Cairo like the Muslim Brotherhood flexing its muscles.
This was not about that stupid video.

shiloh said...

Althouse complaining about accurate reporting when her blog is all about hyperbole.

Drudge, Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, IOngraham, Malkin, Savage, Billo, fixednoise are verklempt! :-P

phx said...

I didn't read the speech - maybe I will. I'm impressed by how much poise she has and how tough she seems as SoS.

Shouting Thomas said...

And of course a Christian woman is really just the best messenger to the Muslims.

Hillary is a "Christian woman?"

shiloh said...

So let's recap, shall we:

mittens is losing badly and Althouse is upset!

AJ Lynch said...

What these Islam fanatics need is an NFL franchise or English soccer team so they can go nuts legaly at the games once a week.

Until then, Fuck you Islamic fanatics is what POS Clinton should say.

AllenS said...

I agree with Clinton that those who respond with violence are unwittingly displaying weakness

Oh bullshit. There are people dead right now because those thugs who killed them understand that you and Clinton are displaying weakness. Don't believe me? Just wait, they kill more people and you and Clinton will still look just as weak. What do you propose we do to stop these people from killing us? Neither of you have an answer except to apologize to them.

Peter said...

Our enemies do not care about our "specialness," they care about our strength.

And at this point it's not a question of being polite. Being polite involves saying "What a beautiful child," no matter how ugly the baby is. And politely nodding, no matter what one thinks of someone else's religion.

There's plenty to be said for politeness. But not when the mob is bellowing that death is the appropriate punishment for an insulting video.

That's when it's time to reaffirm that Americans have the right (within time/place/manner restrictions) to say whatever it pleases them to say- and if you don't like it, you can either deal with it or stopple your ears.

The Godfather said...

Thanks, Madam Secretary, for your thoughts on religion. Now will you please tell us why the Benghazi consulate was unprotected on the anniversary of 9/11?

The presumption ought to be that the Secretary of State is responsible and should resign or be fired. If evidence shows that the Secretary gave the appropriate orders and someone lower down the chain of command screwed up, then the responsible person needs to be fired.

Of course, Pres. Obama doesn't have the courage to fire Hillary, and she doesn't have the honor to resign, so I guess either (a) nothing will happen, or (b) they'll find some poor slob in some little cubicle somewhere and throw him under the bus.

furious_a said...

And of course a Christian woman is really just the best messenger to the Muslims.

F*ck'em. Send Diane Feinstein instead to rub their noses in it.

"Our women are more than your equals" is just what the World's Touchiest Religion needs to hear.

Lyssa said...

I've never understood why it's somehow wrong to criticize another faith. Of course, you shouldn't be rude, and it's absolutely wrong to prevent a person from practicing their faith (assuming they are not hurting anyone else, of course), but why is it wrong to say that one faith or another is wrong in the same way that I would say that one economic theory, or one policy platform, is wrong, or even to mock a bit?

Christopher in MA said...

why is it wrong to say that one faith or another is wrong in the same way that I would say that one economic theory, or one policy platform, is wrong, or even to mock a bit?

It isn't. However, only one "religion" kills people for criticizing it.

phx said...

I agree with Lyssa but I don't think HC was saying we shouldn't argue against or criticize a particular religion. I don't see gratuitously insulting anyone, or just acting like a jerk because someone feels so self-righteously superior to someone because of their religion.

Balfegor said...

re: cubanbob:

If we had a parliamentary form of government this administration would have been subject to a no confidence by now.

I don't think this administration has ever got even its own party to vote for its budgets. They would have failed the confidence motion and been forced to call new elections with their very first budget.

cubanbob said...

Shiloh today you have just the shark from merely being stupid to being actively vile. The sad fact is you are such a degenerate you can't even comprehend just how vile you are.

TMink said...

Shiloh, perhaps we should have an internet wager about who will win the election? I think Romney will win at around 52/48, where Obama won.

Care to bet?

Trey

TMink said...

Shiloh, perhaps we should have an internet wager about who will win the election? I think Romney will win at around 52/48, where Obama won.

Care to bet?

Trey

furious_a said...

I agree with Clinton that those who respond with violence are unwittingly displaying weakness.

So...Copts are fleeing their ancestral homes in Egypt from a position of strength?

What they're displaying is an utter contempt for perceived American weakness, manifested in these contemptible apology jags.

Will Cate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chickelit said...

When Althouse's favorite little bigot shows up to insult Christians and religion in general, he is acting out of ignorance because he in fact knows nothing about my religion or my faith. He assumes, just as I assume, that he enjoys taking loads up the ass.

See how that ignorance works?

cubanbob said...

Balfegor you are absolutely spot on. This train wreck would not have lasted more than two years.

Will Cate said...

Wasted words. Sec. of State Clinton really needs to stop giving these conciliatory lectures on free speech. She should simply say to other heads of state: "Get your people under control. We will defend our diplomatic outposts with force if necessary." Yeah, right... that's gonna happen.

Fact is, nothing we say is gonna change the opinion of this guy.

campy said...

If the media didn't tell us what to think, we might reach the wrong conclusions.

F said...

Ann:

Not sure this is really editorializing. If it had been a "powerful" earthquake you would not have reacted. What the headline writer would REALLY have liked to write is "Clinton gives powerful speech that demonstrates just how ready she is to be president after Obama finishes the four more years he so richly deserves." Now THAT is editorializing.

Balfegor said...

I agree with Clinton that those who respond with violence are unwittingly displaying weakness, but I would say that the weakness is a legitimate fear that the religion is vulnerable to the arguments that can be stated in words.

I think this totally misreads their motivation. I don't think the decision to act with violence says anything whatsoever about their estimation of how their religion would fair in open debate, because I think notions about open debate and persuasion and all that are 100% irrelevant to the personal religious feeling at work in these incidents.

When Muslims react with outrage to the desecration of the Koran -- or, in lesser degree, when Americans react with outrage to desecration of the flag -- the sentiment that is being expressed has nothing to do with a fear that the quasi-speech act will undermine the Koran or the flag. It's an emotional reaction (or spiritual, if you prefer) that something which is sanctified and holy has been tainted, and the taint must be washed out, maybe with blood. The symbolic desecration involved in speech against a particular religion just invites that same powerful emotional reaction of outrage, which in turn can explode into violence.

Christopher in MA said...

Shiloh today you have just the shark from merely being stupid to being actively vile. The sad fact is you are such a degenerate you can't even comprehend just how vile you are.

cubanbob loves me, really loves me! althouse, lol, can't keep your hillbillies satisfied give em more red meat. yay mittens! lol :-)

A response pre-shilohed for your convenience, cubanbob.

Hagar said...

I listened to part of Hillary reading that speech.
I do not think she had much belief in it.

Lawler Walken said...

"And of course a Christian woman is really just the best messenger to the Muslims."

"F*ck'em. Send Diane Feinstein instead to rub their noses in it.

"Our women are more than your equals" is just what the World's Touchiest Religion needs to hear."

Now, now, that is not practicing tolerance and acceptance of another's person's religious faith. You are clearly not one of the ten.

virgil xenophon said...

Balfegor hits it square in the nuts..

Colonel Angus said...

I don't see gratuitously insulting anyone, or just acting like a jerk because someone feels so self-righteously superior to someone because of their religion.

This is done all the time in this country under the auspices of freedom of expression. When Christians are outraged over the cross in a jar of urine, The Last Tempatation of Christ or some comedian's riff on Christianity, the progressive set just laughs and congratulates themselves on their edginess and bravery.


pduggie said...

Checking the quote where The Koran says that Jesus didn't die, it apparently comes in a place that lists all the awful things the jews did.

It's difficult to take the view seriously that you can't criticize Islam when the islamic holy text is full of criticisms of Jews and Christians and how stupid and wrong they are.

Calypso Facto said...

It's an emotional reaction (or spiritual, if you prefer) that something which is sanctified and holy has been tainted

Exactly. Read Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion". Especially his construct of the "elephant" of emotional response we try to ride with our higher cognition.

LarsPorsena said...

Yeah, I remember reading that after Kristallnacht, all over Germany this was considered weakness by the Nazis.

kcom said...

"the progressive set just laughs and congratulates themselves on their edginess and bravery"

And when given the opportunity to demonstrate real bravery and stand up for serious principles, they are AWOL. The actually pre-cave. They don't even wait for the actual threat to come along before surrendering. At least the French give up after they are attacked.

PETER V. BELLA said...

What is powerful about criticizing freedom of expression?

traditionalguy said...

Since the late 1990s the American position has been that the Religion of the Sword that has legitimated armed conquests by murdering infidels all over the earth for 1500 years is actually a religion of peace.

That was a lie carefully designed by the USA to influence Muslims to be more peaceful while we pumped out the oil.

Meanwhile the head of the snake in Saudi Arabia has used oil wealth to spread its madrasas teaching wahabism to revive the old time religion of the sword for world conquest.

So whatever we say about Mohammed's revelation in a cave by an angel it goes against the heart of the Arab deception that Mohammed's revelation t replaces all other religions OR ELSE WE WILL KILL YOU!

edutcher said...

Chris in MA, you are too good.

The media knows that foreign policy was Zero's one bright spot and that's gone dim, so they're scrambling.

Rocketeer said...

Not sure this is really editorializing. If it had been a "powerful" earthquake you would not have reacted.

Clinton's speech was a 1 point uncontroversial-to-the-point-of-banality on the Richter scale.

Not that powerful.

chuck said...

I agree with Clinton that those who respond with violence are unwittingly displaying weakness

After they beat your ass and sell your family into slavery you can comfort yourself with their weakness. The statement smells of cheap psychology misapplied to politics and group behaviour.

creeley23 said...

Both Clinton and Althouse are obtuse here. We are not dealing with Islam-as-a-religion; we are dealing with Islam-as-a-totalitarian-ideology.

Replace all references to Islam with Stalinism and see how much sense the above commentary above makes.

phx said...

When Christians are outraged over the cross in a jar of urine, The Last Tempatation of Christ or some comedian's riff on Christianity, the progressive set just laughs and congratulates themselves on their edginess and bravery.

Paint your opponents the way you like! Put them in little devil's outfits and make them dance the way you like for your friends on althouse! Demonize those babies, no thinking required!

PatCA said...

It was a powerful speech!

Ignore the British papers! Ignore the bloody handprints! Ignore the dereliction of duty by State! Ignore the buses full of 'spontaneous' protesters! Ignore the failed Obama Doctrine of appeasement.

It was a powerful speech.

DADvocate said...

Balfegor makes an excellent point. These people come from a very different cultural/social frame of reference than do we. Clinton, and many others, seem to be wholly unaware of that, or simply ignore it.

As lefties are apt to do, Clinton belittles freedom of speech. Nothing powerful about her defense of free speech. Plus, her words ring especially empty when held up to what lefties and Democrats say and do towards Christianity, from urine bottle crufixes to bitter clinger remarks.

Clinton talks of the protesters lack of strength while her and the Obama administration's response defines weakness and cowardice. The Obama administration's weakness and cowardice lead the protesters to believe they could get away with what they're doing.

David said...

Total mindless bullshit.

virgil xenophon said...

Chuck, immediately above, has the proper perspective...but "cheap psychology?" Close. How about "perverted" psychology?

Kirk Parker said...

Shouting,

"Hillary is a 'Christian woman?' "

To anyone in the Middle East she is.

creeley23 said...

The symbolic desecration involved in speech against a particular religion just invites that same powerful emotional reaction of outrage, which in turn can explode into violence.

Balfegor gets that much right, but with Islam much more than emotional outrage is involved.

In the Quran one finds a steady rain of vicious punishments demanded for those who offend God, Muhammad, or Islam. In Sharia one finds this encoded in the blasphemy laws which exact penalties: from fines, flogging and imprisonment to amputation, hanging and beheading.

It's not just the emotional reaction but also the strong inculcated belief that desecration must be punished, and all this within the overarching Islamic context that violence is justified for the purpose of protecting and expanding Islam.

There is no other religion like Islam in this regard. The closest example I can think of, though I must flout Godwin to mention it, is Nazism.

Nazis weren't "unwittingly displaying weakness" when they attacked and brutalized those who mocked Hitler. They were displaying power for the sake of power, not winning debates or proving their faith.

Likewise Islam. Muhammad had no miracles; he was not resurrected. The proof of Islam was the battles Muslims won and the peoples they forced into conversion or slavery.

The word, Islam, means Submission. That's what Islam, the religion, demands and violence is as good as any way to get it, as the history of Islam has shown and continues to show.

Bill Harshaw said...

Remember Clinton is a member of a prayer group which leans conservative. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2006/11/take-two-hillarys-choice/305292/

ken in sc said...

I say again, Putin is seen as the 'strong horse' is the middle east. No one is attacking Russian Embassies even though Russia is oppressing Muslims right and left.

Balfegor said...

Re: Bill Harshaw:

Remember Clinton is a member of a prayer group which leans conservative.

Interesting link, and a sad reminder of how much better a president she would have been than Obama. I don't know that she likes socialising with people much more than Obama does, but she would actually have made more than token efforts to cajole and work with her opponents in Congress and win them over. For better or for worse.

MarkD said...

I don't need to hear or read the speech. It's powerful. Not powerful enough to stop the spreading riots, but powerful the media said so, and they own the words.

yashu said...

"When Christians are outraged over the cross in a jar of urine, The Last Tempatation of Christ or some comedian's riff on Christianity, the progressive set just laughs and congratulates themselves on their edginess and bravery."

Paint your opponents the way you like! Put them in little devil's outfits and make them dance the way you like for your friends on althouse! Demonize those babies, no thinking required!


Is this "demonization"? Seems a fair enough description to me. I don't think it's at all controversial to say that the vast majority of progressives/ liberals scoff at Christian conservatives' outrage over some piece of art/ culture they consider morally or religiously objectionable (whether that's Serrano or Scorsese or Mapplethorpe or elephant dung Madonnas or Madonna herself).

Hell, I myself, no progressive and sympathetic in many ways to conservatives (but a small-l-libertarian at heart), roll my eyes when I see this kind of thing.

The point here is not to "demonize" progressives who scoff at Christians outraged by some piece of art or pop culture, but to point out the stark contrast in those progressives' attitude when it comes to Islamic (as opposed to Christian) outrage and demands for censorship.

JSF said...

Please note that Siloh cares not one whit for our Overseas Policymakers life or death.

He only wants everyone here to vote for the current Commander in Chief, Obama.

The same Commander in Chief in charge who failed to protect the lives of the Embassy workers.

DEEBEE said...

Is'nt the speech 4 dead bodies too late? Oh sorry, if your intent is always to do good you can come back and do the right thing and somehow chronologically all is forgiven.

PCMankey said...

Clinton is so full of nothing, when she moves her mouth inanity follows. What crap she bellows "great religions of the world." Yeah, name them. And she has Hell to pay for leaving the embassy guarded by Libyans and not US Marines. What a douche with the usual Dem/Left "were sorry you killed our people." The better Red than dead" 60s crowd is now in power--biggest bunch of pussies ever.