In my last post, I mentioned that I'd considered, then thought better of, a longer post about the situation in Egypt and Libya, which has sadly now spread to much of the rest of the Muslim world, and is affecting American businesses and the outposts of other Western governments.
Even though there's now reason to think the fatal attack on our consulate in Benghazi was a planned terrorist operation and not a protest-gone-wrong after all, there's no doubt there were actual organic protests in Egypt and elsewhere, nor that it's common around the world for people to attack the U.S. Government for the actions and words of American (or at least U.S.-based) individuals and private businesses.
What I had in mind to say on Wednesday, but couldn't figure out how to articulate without appearing to validate the actions of thugs, was this: I think the reason people around the world blame our government for the speech of individuals is that they simply don't believe our government doesn't control our people's words... and I fear the reason they don't believe that is that it's never been true for them in their own countries.
None of that excuses or justifies violence and murder, of course, but one of the many things about this story that breaks my heart is that it stands as evidence of how many people around the world have lived under tyranny for so long that they can't even wrap their heads around real freedom. The behavior of the violent mobs (and let's remember that many of the protestors have not been violent) is inexcusable, but that doesn't mean they're not victims, too.
On Wednesday, I was afraid to say this; last night, in the final segment of her show, Rachel Maddow was braver and smarter than me (she almost always is):