Uh, Guys? Obama’s Really Sorry!

Your tax dollars at work, paying to air a message of weakness.



Call it a video reprise of the Obama Apology Tour: “The American Embassy in Islamabad, in a bid to tamp down public rage over the anti-Islam film produced in the U.S., is spending $70000 to air an ad on Pakistani television that features President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton denouncing the video,” the Associated Press reports.

The 30-second spot was released yesterday and is running “on seven Pakistani networks.” It’s also getting some free airtime here in the U.S.; yesterday Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” ran it before an interview with Sarah Palin (who was, not unpredictably, critical).

The ad rehearses, with Urdu subtitles, last week’s statements from Obama and Mrs. Clinton in which he declares that America “respects all faiths” and she asserts: “Let me state very clearly, and I hope it is obvious, that the United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its content and message.”

“Muslim protests against insults to the Prophet Mohammad turned violent in Pakistan, where at least 15 people were killed on Friday,” Reuters reports:

Tens of thousands of people joined protests encouraged by the government in several cities including Islamabad, Karachi, Peshawar, Lahore, Multan and Muzaffarabad.

The bloodiest unrest erupted in the southern city of Karachi, where 10 people were killed, including three policemen, and more than 100 wounded, according to Allah Bachayo Memon, spokesman of the chief minister of Sindh province. He said about 20 vehicles, three banks and five cinemas were set on fire.

Crowds set two cinemas ablaze and ransacked shops in the northwestern city of Peshawar, clashing with riot police who fired tear gas. At least five people were killed.

In Mardan in the northwest, police said a Christian church was set on fire and several people hurt.

Mohammed Tariq Khan, a protester in Islamabad, said: “Our demand is that whoever has blasphemed against our holy Prophet should be handed over to us so we can cut him up into tiny pieces in front of the entire nation.”

The State Department’s ad campaign looks like one of the greatest marketing efforts since New Coke.

The Reuters report underscores the basic conceptual problems with the Obama-Clinton apology. For one thing, it assumes that militant Islamic anti-Americanism is based on essentially the same critique as the multicultural left’s anti-Americanism. But how is the claim that America “respects all faiths” supposed to appease people who burn churches? Nor is the secretary’s assurance that the U.S. government “had absolutely nothing to do with this video” responsive to the demand that its maker “be handed over to us so we can cut him up into tiny pieces.”

It seems likely that this Mohammed Tariq Khan faults the U.S. government for failing to do so. Now of course Americans understand what Mrs. Clinton means when she says the government has nothing to do with it. The video’s makers are alive and free not because the government has permitted it but because the Constitution prohibits the government from doing anything else. Don’t blame Obama, don’t even blame George W. Bush. Blame James Madison.


Associated PressRioters in Pakistan today

What message does the ad actually send the Mohammed Tariq Khans? On the one hand, a message of weakness: Assemble a big enough mob, kill enough people, burn enough flags and churches, and you too can grab the attention of the most powerful man and woman in the world. On the other hand, a taunt. If Obama and Mrs. Clinton really mean it, the Khans must think, why haven’t they presented the video makers for public mincing? The State Department’s ad contains no answer to that crucial question.

If our government is going to run an ad to educate Pakistanis (or whoever) about American attitudes, wouldn’t it make sense to include an explanation as to why America’s leaders cannot and will not enforce the mob’s standards of blasphemy? To an American, what’s objectionable about this ad isn’t so much the apology for the video’s offense as the abject failure to defend basic American principles of freedom. That same failure makes the ad less than worthless as an educational tool.