It was resurrected after a disgusting anti-Islam video surfaced on YouTube inciting rage throughout the Muslim world.
The falsehood began with a 2009 Karl Rove op-ed claiming President Obama had “apologized” for America. As with most of what Rove says, this was untrue but the far right media echo chamber predictably gave his canard currency.
What Obama did say back in 2009 is that America, as in the Bush administration Rove served, had “shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive” to its allies; a statement of fact.
Recall Germany and France, both of which supported the U.S.-led liberation of Kuwait in 1990, rejected Bush’s ginned up rationale for invading Iraq in 2003.
The Bush White House and its supporters bashed these key allies for not joining the so-called “coalition of the willing” in what ultimately became a long, bloody and expensive misadventure.
Trigger happy Bush officials publically dismissed Germany and France as “old Europe” while French fries were replaced with “freedom fries” in the Capital commissary. Fox News’ cousin, the New York Post, famously depicted France’s U.N. ambassador as a rat.
It was left to Obama to let these allies know he wouldn’t conduct foreign policy the way Bush had. That wasn’t an apology, it was smart diplomacy.
Then there was Obama’s address to the Turkish parliament in which he said, “the United States is not at war with Islam,” a fact the far right twisted into an apology.
Obama took this message to Egypt, where he declared, “Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible.”
A statement of fact; Iraq was an unmitigated disaster.
But facts often elude Mitt Romney, especially when they contradict his ever-evolving positions on most all issues.
Case in point came a couple of weeks ago after an Egyptian Coptic Christian living in the U.S. posted the aforementioned hate video he produced. Coptic Christians are persecuted in Egypt, so the video’s producer was clearly out for some payback.
U.S. diplomats in Cairo condemned the film, but angry Egyptians attacked our embassy anyway, triggering a kneejerk Romney reaction.
“It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks,” huffed Romney.
“The embassy had not yet been breached when (the diplomats) issued the statement he’s criticizing,” the White House dryly observed on September 12.
When he was blasted by Democratic and Republican leaders, Romney declared Obama was “apologizing for American principles.”
Romney can get away with this because he knows right wing media will reliably repeat it and that there are plenty of Obama-haters eager to believe the president gives comfort and aid to Muslim terrorists.
But even Romney knows it was Obama who gave the orders to kill Osama bin Laden and dozens of other top al-Qaida leaders.
Well, then, Obama didn’t stand up for free speech, screech conservatives.
Maybe the president was waiting for the right forum where that message would actually mean something.
“We do not ban blasphemy,” the president told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. “Efforts to restrict speech can become a tool to silence critics or oppress minorities. … The strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech.”
Kevin Foley is a public relations executive, author and writer who lives in Kennesaw.