In the wake of attacks that killed four Americans at the U.S. Consulate in Libya, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Thursday the U.S. government must stress that Americans treasure their freedom of speech, but they need to be mindful of how they exercise that freedom.
She said that would require empathetic dialogue on both sides: explaining to Americans that the group who set fire to the Libyan embassy doesn’t represent the entire country; and schooling Muslims in the Middle East to understand that just because an inflammatory video pops up on the Internet, doesn’t mean the U.S. government agrees with the values it expresses.
Albright, who was the first female secretary of state under former Pres. Bill Clinton, compared such incendiary expressions to whether one has the right to yell “fire” in a crowded theater, knowing the violence it may cause. She served as secretary in 1998 during attacks at embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Albright said the U.S. should continue to support democracy in Libya and Egypt and find ways to create jobs and enhance that economy so young, jobless Libyan men are not an easy recruiting target for extremists.
Albright was in South Florida stumping for President Barack Obama in a two-day stop, emphasizing “that Florida is the key” for winning the election and that “women in Florida make a huge difference.”
She defended the Obama administration’s commitment to Israel, and criticized GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney for his attacks on the administration.