A clash of values

Mitt Romney's rushed reaction makes the candidate look bad

The demonstration and the attack against the U.S. Embassies in Egypt and Libya are the result of a clash of values in the era of globalization, fed by hatred. At the same time, they revealed the sad reality of political opportunism.

The events once again showed the dilemma represented by the freedom of expression espoused by western societies, represented by the United States, in contrast with the religious concepts that hold Mohammed’s image and the Koran as sacred. However, what happened Tuesday, especially in Libya, deserves loud condemnation.

A few years ago, what happened in a corner of the world was unknown to the rest; today, technology gives agitators an international stage to express their hatred. That’s why there is the tragic recent phenomenon of people who kill and die during demonstrations in Islamic countries because someone wrote or destroyed a book.

This time around, a crude film describing the life of Mohammed and insulting him and his religion, unleashed incidents in two politically vulnerable nations that just ousted years-long dictatorships.

In Libya, the lack of control over armed groups that helped overthrow Qaddafi allowed extremists to take advantage of outraged reactions and launch a deadly attack that killed American diplomats. The Libyan government immediately condemned the attack, and capturing the attackers will be a test for the government of Mohammed Magarief.

Separately, in Egypt, President Mohammed Mursi must guarantee the security of the U.S. Embassy and not allow the most radical sectors to predominate in the Muslim Brotherhood government.

Leaving the Middle East and returning to our country, it’s really sad that the Romney’s campaign tried to take political advantage of these events to advance its cause. In their rush, they set aside the commitment to not politicize 9/11, releasing a declaration that criticizes the White House before more details about what happened were known.

Romney’s comment was premature, ill-informed, not at all presidential and too opportunistic, since it involved the murder of American officials abroad.

We think it would have been better for Romney’s chances if he would have made more thoughtful comments rather than repeat his usual speech, because this situation will probably repeat itself. Freedom of expression cannot be curtailed and it is also tough to change religious beliefs.

That is why patience and steadiness are necessary in seeking a goal of tolerance in these conflicts. This can be achieved at a patient, diplomatic pace and not in the rush of an election campaign.