The assassination of U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens is a big loss to the United States. He grew up in California, graduated from UC Berkeley and taught English in Morocco as a Peace Corps volunteer before joining the U.S. Foreign Service. He knew Arabic and, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "He risked his life to stop a tyrant, then gave his life trying to help build a better Libya. The world needs more Christopher Stevenses."
Radical Islamists killed him and three other Americans in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. President Barack Obama had the right response, mourning the dead and declaring, " Justice will be done." The mission in Libya will continue.
The events came after the infamous Terry Jones, who sparked deadly riots in Afghanistan by burning the Quran in 2011, promoted a film mocking Prophet Muhammad as part of a "Judge Muhammad Day" on Tuesday's 9/11 anniversary.
Obama didn't shy from criticizing the film, while condemning the violence: "We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is no justification for this senseless violence none."
Unfortunately, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made a reckless attack, saying: "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."
What? Last year, Romney condemned Jones' Quran burning as "wrong on every level," putting U.S. "troops in danger" and violating "a founding principle of our republic." Now, he criticizes the U.S. Embassy in Egypt for condemning "the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others."
This is political opportunism at the wrong time.
Americans diplomats risk their lives in difficult parts of the world. Stevens served in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Israel and, finally, in Libya. We are better off for his service trying to make a volatile region more stable and secure.
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