On the eleventh anniversary of nine-eleven, a number of events occurred.  An apparently well-planned attack on our consulate in Bengazi resulted in the deaths of four Americans including our ambassador to Libya.  At the same time, radical Muslims attacked our embassies and military outposts in thirteen countries, with varying degrees of violence, and the now infamous YouTube video ridiculing the prophet Mohammed went viral throughout the Internet.

The invasion of our embassies and the murder of our people violate international law and standards of conduct recognized by every civilized nation.  They were premeditated acts of war designed to commemorate nine-eleven, and it is my hope that the perpetrators meet the same end as Osama Bin Laden, only far more quickly and in the clear light of day.

But let us not confuse the other events that have swept the world with deliberate acts of terrorism like the attacks in Libya and Afghanistan.  It’s time to address accountability.

Our courts have ruled that the right to free speech is not unlimited.  Beyond not being able to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater, we may not spew hate with the clear intent to create mayhem and riot.  People obsessed with bigotry and hate do not have the right to jeopardize the lives of our citizens and the interests of our country.  I believe posting that despicable video on YouTube with the clear intent of causing worldwide chaos qualifies as a hate crime.

I’m reminded that in the sixties and seventies, Americans who engaged in peaceful, law-abiding demonstrations against the Vietnam War were relentlessly hounded by the FBI.  As a defense contractor with the highest security clearance, working in the Pentagon to protect the United States from the Soviet Union, it was made clear to me that exercising my right to free speech could destroy my career and expose me to prosecution.

Back then, people who disagreed with the government were accused of being un-American and hating our country.  Today, anyone who suggests that everything about America is not perfect is attacked as being an apologist.  Are we that petty?  Are we so small that we cannot acknowledge the imperfect elements of our society?  Does it weaken us to admit that free speech can expose our warts as well as our greatness?

The filmmakers and the bigoted minister that enabled their trash to go viral on YouTube did so with the clear, irresponsible intent of fomenting hatred.  Holding them accountable before the world ought to be seen as a sign of strength.  Where is federal law enforcement now?  Will they act with their former zeal to prosecute the hatemongers?

As for the radicals who hate us to compensate for their own shortcomings, they will always be there, but we do not have to make ourselves appear petty and hateful to everyone else.

Growing up as a Jew in post-World War II America, I experienced bigotry and hatred every day and lived with the constant reminder of millions of my people murdered while most of the world stood by.  My Catholic friends heard their Pope constantly reviled by the same bigots.  But we didn’t kill and burn every time an ignorant fool opened his mouth.  Even during our worst period of racial unrest, the people who behaved badly were reacting not to words, but to rape and murder.

To the demonstrators who hate America and burn our embassies, I say, “Grow up!  If you want the respect of the rest of the world, earn it.”  And to the billion or more Muslims who wish to live in peace, I say, “Don’t sit by while the worst elements of your society burn and kill.  In the end, they hurt you more than they hurt us.”

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