There are really two large points in all of this which should be kept front and center.
First is the one related to free expression. As I suggested during the Mohammed cartoon controversy – another outrage that was completely ginned up by religious fanatics who counterfeited drawings and toured the Muslim world stoking outrage that simply did not exist – “No one should be beaten or killed or imprisoned simply for speaking their mind or praying to one god as opposed to the other or none at all or getting on with the small business of living their life in peaceful fashion. If we cannot or will not defend that principle with a full throat, then we deserve to choke on whatever jihadists of all stripes can force down our throats.”
Second: U.S. foreign policy is part of our problem with the wider world. It’s not the whole problem and it doesn’t sanction anything done by al Qaeda or the PLO or Iran or the despotic Syrian government or anything else (even as it might help explain and predict where, why, and how those actions take place). But when idiots like Jay Carney and large chunks of Congress and the president and his main rival for office and so many others continue to insist that the way the U.S. has acted over the past five, 10, and 50 years has no bearing on foreign attitudes toward America, its people, and its interests, you’ve just got to wonder how these people tie their shoes in the morning. Are they really that stupid or are they just totally convincing as actors?