The US State Department has never been particularly clueful when commenting on issues of freedom. Many suspect that diplomats in general prefer to deal with dictatorships rather than deal with all of the mess and uncertainty inherent in democracies. In that light, the following widely-reported remarks should come as no surprise:
These cartoons are indeed offensive to the belief of Muslims. We all fully recognize and respect freedom of the press and expression but it must be coupled with press responsibility. Inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is not acceptable. We call for tolerance and respect for all communities for their religious beliefs and practices.(For those who haven't been following the story, the cartoons in question were first published in a Danish newspaper and depicted Mohammad as a terrorist. This has sparked massive riots throughout the Muslim world which in turn prompted many European newspapers to reprint the images.)
On the face of it, there is nothing particularly wrong with the State Department's comments. I would agree that newspapers are often guilty of anti-religious bias and with the power of the press should come responsibility. But the trouble is what is not said. Nowhere does the State Department condemn the over-reaction of Muslims or the threats of violence which resulted.
As we have noted before, the Muslim faith is built on a vision of conquest and there is no room for the secular ideals of tolerance and fair-play which the State Department is promoting. This sort of appeasement is morally wrong and it won't even work.
(Via the lovely but not remotely safe-for-work Sonia-Belle.)
UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has more, as does InstaPundit. Hmm. I notice that the AFP attributes these remarks to Justin Higgins while the Reuters story credited Kurtis Cooper. And CNN quotes Janelle Hironimus. But THEY ARE ALL SAYING THE SAME THING. Is this a coordinated media blitz?
UPDATE: Contrast the Muslim reaction with that of Americans to the portrayal of Osama Bin Laden as Christ:
The art show's producer Josh Wainwright, insisted he hadn't even made the Bin Laden connection. "Knowing what you know now would you have barred the painting from being part of your show?" I asked. "Absolutely not," he replied. Wainwright says he's a military veteran and despises Bin Laden, but he added, "I don't think it's anyone's job or vocation to limit the expression of artists."
UPDATE: Eugene Volokh found a more detailed statement from Sean McCormack that stresses the free-speech issue. Still no condemnation of Muslim violence and a suggestion that "in some cases, we condemn the views that are aired in public that are published in media organizations around the world". Not much improvement, in my opinion, over the abbreviated statements quoted in other sources.