Bush and the Islamists

The State Department response to the completely anodyne cartoons published in Denmark can only be described as pathetic appeasement. You'd think that no one in Foggy Bottom was aware of the intimidation of free thought in Europe by Islamist thugs. The cartoons were not designed to "incite religious or ethnic hatreds." They were designed to protest such incitement - and we have the corpses of Theo van Gogh and Pim Fortuyn as useful proof. It reminds me of the pusillanimous response of the first Bush administration to the despicable threat against Salman Rushdie. Clinton, of course, has been even worse. Then there's this:

"Anti-Muslim images are as unacceptable as anti-Semitic images, as anti-Christian images or any other religious belief," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

So where are the State Department condemnations of vile anti-Semitic cartoons published by government-run papers in the Middle East? Why the double standard? And just for the record: statements that offend people's religious beliefs are perfectly acceptable in a free society. They may not always be admirable; they may even be objectionable. But freedom does not distinguish between "acceptable" words and "unacceptable" ones, when it comes to commenting on public matters, including - and especially - religion. And there is no more pressing public matter today than the intersection of fundamentalist extremism and politics. In this war, the Bush administration just made a strong statement. For the other side.