The flag-draped caskets of our four slain foreign service officers are home from Libya, and the black al-Qaeda flags raised over U.S. embassies have been replaced by the Stars and Stripes, but the anti-American protests in capitals around the world continued unabated this week.
The media is already onto other subjects — notably, Mitt Romney’s latest gaffe — but this is a hazardous self-indulgence. Although the Age of Twitter has helped transform supposedly responsible citizens into hyperkinetic schoolboys with miniscule attention spans, America’s self-proclaimed enemies routinely invoke centuries-old grievances that pre-date the existence of the United States itself.
For that reason, even as the campaign between Romney and President Obama moves on to other platforms, let us linger long enough to contemplate the disquieting political ramifications of the past week.
Let’s start with Romney, as it was he — and not the commander-in-chief — who first commented on the assault against America’s embassies. The immediate consensus was that the Republican challenger had jumped the gun by proclaiming it “disgraceful” for the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to issue a statement condemning “the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.”