The death of the U.S. ambassador in Libya alongside three other Americans reminds us that extremists on both sides stop at nothing to undermine already tense relations between the West, as represented and led by the United States, and destabilized states such as Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan.
Neither set of extremists can be allowed to prevail.
Americans, watching footage of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi burning, and watching Egyptian protesters scale the walls of the U.S. embassy in Cairo to take down an American flag, are cautioned against blaming an entire religion or region.
This was the work of one element in the Mideast — ultraconservative Islamists advocating a strict interpretation of Islam that is incompatible with the modern world.
"This was an attack by a small and savage group — not the people or government of Libya," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Some suspect the trigger for the attack was the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.
Others point to YouTube video that insults the prophet Muhammad. Our allies must understand that a filmmaker who labels an entire religion a "cancer" is no less an extremist than the murderers in Libya, and that filmmaker does not speak for nor represent the overwhelming majority of Americans. The filmmaker, Sam Bacile, even claims he did not anticipate such a furious reaction.
Extremism is exactly what he wanted. It's what both sides want.
To let fringe elements take hold of the relations between our nation and theirs will only lead to further violence and bloodshed, and that would belittle and dishonor the sacrifice of Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador who died Tuesday trying to rescue the staff at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
Stevens, Clinton said, "risked his life to stop a tyrant and then risked his life" working to rebuild Libya.
-- The Joplin Globe, Joplin, Mo.