President Obama Wednesday belatedly, and a little sheepishly, joined Gov. Mitt Romney in asserting his support for free speech amidst attacks against American embassies in Egypt, Libya – a now Yemen – by mobs angered by an American film denigrating Mohammed.
Neither Romney nor Obama initially addressed to core issue at hand, which is that the United States cannot be seen appeasing those who conduct violence in response to speech, which is what the controversial press release by the Egyptian Embassy did.
Romney soon came around to putting in a plug for free expression, and the White House announced later Wednesday that Obama had said he likes free speech too, in an interview conducted for “60 Minutes.”
I do have to say that, more broadly, we believe in the First Amendment. It is one of the hallmarks of our Constitution that I am sworn to uphold, so we’re always going to uphold the rights of individuals to speak their minds. On the other hand, this film is not representative of who we are, and our values, and I think it is important for us to communicate that. That’s never an excuse for violence against Americans, which is why my No. 1 priority and my initial statement focused on making sure that not only are Americans safe, but that we go after anyone that would attack Americans.
Well, that’s important, and I’m glad he did it. But it shouldn’t be something you “have to say.” It should be something you urgently want to say.