Victor Davis Hanson‘s latest column for National Review Online examines the political left’s drift away from adamant support for free expression.

[T]he worldview of the Left is self-contradictory. One of its pet doctrines is multiculturalism — or the idea that non-Western cultures cannot be judged critically by our own inherently biased Western standards.

Female circumcision or honor killings in the Muslim world don’t merit our attention in the way that a woman’s right to free abortion pills from her Catholic employer does in the West. When it comes to the Middle East, we neither criticize strongly enough the region’s sexism, homophobia, or racism, nor do we defend without qualification our own notions of free expression as inherently superior to the habitual censorship abroad.

Fear plays a role, too. Championing the right of Andres Serrano to show his degrading pictures of Christ wins liberal laurels. Protecting novelist Salman Rushdie’s caricatures of Islam might earn death.

The Obama administration went to great lengths to blast an Egyptian-American Coptic Christian for posting on the Internet a juvenile movie trailer ridiculing Islam which offended Muslims. After riots across the Middle East and the murder of the U.S. ambassador in Libya, American officials did not wish to concede that radical Islam hates the United States — and hates it even when Barack Obama is president. The administration did not want to admit that its own lax security standards, not a film trailer, led to the horrific murders in Libya; neither did it want to admit in an election year that its Middle East reset policy is in shambles.

No obnoxious American in the last half-century — not Larry Flynt, not Daniel Ellsberg — has warranted so much condemnation for his antics from the president of the United States, the secretary of state, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as one crackpot preacher in Florida and an inept Coptic film producer have received.

Outraged Arab Americans in Dearborn, Mich., demonstrated in favor of anti-blasphemy laws last week. They demanded an end to any expression that they find religiously offensive — and thereby proved to be embarrassingly clueless as to why many in their communities left their own homelands to come to America in the first place.