Obama made a statement today. Here is the official transcript of what he said (emphasis mine):
I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America’s commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives.
I have directed my Administration to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe. While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.
On a personal note, Chris was a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States. Throughout the Libyan revolution, he selflessly served our country and the Libyan people at our mission in Benghazi. As Ambassador in Tripoli, he has supported Libya’s transition to democracy. His legacy will endure wherever human beings reach for liberty and justice. I am profoundly grateful for his service to my Administration, and deeply saddened by this loss.
The brave Americans we lost represent the extraordinary service and sacrifices that our civilians make every day around the globe. As we stand united with their families, let us now redouble our own efforts to carry their work forward.
What does that emphasized language mean? “While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others”? Doesn’t that sound as if Obama is saying that it’s official U.S. policy to stifle religious criticism? I know of no such policy. Obama should have been celebrating free speech and talking about the fact that, no matter how unpleasant it is, it is the essence of freedom. Instead, he says that the United States rejects free speech that speaks negatively of religion.
Keep in mind as you think about Obama’s words that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has been trying for years to push through the U.N. a resolution that would make denigrating a religion a criminal offense. Just recently, the Obama Administration refused to state categorically that America will never support such an initiative. And why should it? Just a little while a, our President, speaking to an international audience, said that the United States rejects denigrating religion.
No. No. No. The whole point of the First Amendment is that the government stays out of controlling religion and that the American people are free to speak about religion and all sorts of other things without fear of their government.
UPDATE: The above quotation is from the prepared transcript of Obama’s statements. When he made his actual statement, he expanded upon the prepared text, but kept exactly the same language about speech (emphasis mine):
we’re working with the government of libya to secure our diplomats. i’ve also directed my administration to increase our security at diplomatic posts around the world. and make no mistake, we will work with the libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people. since our founding, the united states has been a nation that respects all faiths. we reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, but there is absolutely no justification for this type of senseless violence, none. the world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts. already, many libyans have joined us in doing so, and this attack will not break the bonds between the united states and libya. libyan security personnel fought back against the attackers alongside americans. libyans helped some of our diplomats find safety, and they carried ambassador stevens’s body to the hospital, where we tragically learned that he had died.
Obama also added some inchoate thoughts that indicate his usual moral equivalence, along the lines of “they’re more to be pitied than censured,” because they can’t help themselves:
but we also know that the lives these americans led stand in stark contrast to those of their attackers. these four americans stood up for freedom and human dignity.
And their attackers’ lives stand for radical Islam? Their attackers’ lives stand for the usual Progressive tropes about poverty? What does that mean? He’s clearly implying that the attackers couldn’t help themselves, but he fails to say why.