It’s been an ugly week. On Tuesday, the anniversary of 9/11, mobs swarmed US embassies in Egypt and Libya. A few personnel in Libya were killed, including the first murder of a US ambassador in over thirty years. Supposedly the Muslims were upset about a new anti-Islam movie.
Since everything these days has to do with the presidential campaigns, Romney criticized Obama for an apologetic statement about the movie from the Libyan embassy, even though the statement came before the attacks and was even published against the wishes of the State Department. This helped the mainstream media ignore the violence as a disaster for the Obama administration while they jumped on Romney’s exploitation and accidentally admitted in broad daylight that they’re all in cahoots against him.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration condemned the attacks but also asked the crazy Florida pastor to stop promoting the movie (you know, the guy who thought it was a great idea to burn Korans a few months back) and asked YouTube to “review” the video to see if they should remove it. Even as the administration was subtly backhanding free speech at the homeland, it tried to teach the principle to Muslims abroad to counter rumors that the video had been shown on “American state television,” which doesn’t exist (yet).
The media got bored with Romney’s comment and moved on to the now-infamous video, which apparently was also responsible for several more riots in Muslim countries throughout the rest of the week. In fact, right now on Google News, there are 136,000 results for “anti-Islam film,” 32,200 results for “anti-Islam movie,” and 26,100 results for “anti-Islam video.” A few rabid liberals even suggested the filmmaker should go to jail for inciting so much violence.
The mainstream media, the Obama administration, and the Romney campaign all swallowed the story that an anti-Islam movie caused Muslims to riot. All of their reactions would have been ridiculous even if that was true. But that seems to be an increasingly fishy notion.
We learned that the “movie” was not actually produced by a Jew or funded by Jews, as originally reported by everyone, but by an Egyptian who is allegedly a Coptic Christian concerned about Islamic discrimination of Christians in Egypt. We learned that the movie clip had been on YouTube since July and only received a thousand or so views by 9/11. Apparently it was starting to gain enough notoriety in certain circles for Muslim clerics to use it as an excuse to whip up some protests, but we learned that Islamic militants probably used the relatively peaceful protests as a cover for a long-planned attack on the Libyan consulate (while there has been plenty of disturbing vandalism at the other embassies, those protestors don’t seem to have been nearly as well-armed as the Libyan militants).
But the media is obsessed with the “movie.” To be fair, it’s an intriguing story about a strange man with a strange past tricking people into being involved in a ridiculously low-quality video. But I want to know more about the Islamic discrimination that allegedly had something to do with it. If the riots were an overreaction to a silly movie, was the silly movie an overreaction to Islamic discrimination of a Christian minority in Egypt? Alas, the media doesn’t seem to care about chasing the cause-and-effect chain that far back; there are less than 5,500 stories on Google News about Coptic discrimination, and most of those just mention that “Egypt’s Christian Coptic population has long decried what they describe as a history of discrimination” with no further details or investigation.
I don’t think this story fits the convenient narratives of the Left thinking Muslims are touchy, sensitive victims that we all must defer to and the Right thinking Muslims are touchy, sensitive violence-mongers that we all must defend against. Maybe they’re not all so touchy. A lot of Libyans condemned the attacks, and though there were early reports (still propagated by some conservatives) that Libyans “dragged” the ambassador’s body “through the streets,” we learned they were actually carrying him to a hospital. Clearly there are subsets that really do want to kill Jews/Christians/Americans, and the average Middle Eastern Muslim is still too susceptible to frenzies for comfort; it’s hard to find optimism in mobs chanting “Obama, Obama, we are all Osamas,” and I suspect a “Mohammed Superstar” production would find a little more resistance than its real Christian counterpart did in the US if such a thing opened in, say, Saudi Arabia.
But as democracy, technology, and general Westernization spreads, I believe a lot of people who call themselves Muslims just want to live peaceful, prosperous lives, and I’m optimistic that such “apathy” will increase as time goes by. Unfortunately, our military invasions, proliferating drone strikes, and endless regime donations often seem to only help the militant subsets convince other Muslims to join them. You know, the whole “Could The Use Of Flying Death Robots Be Hurting America’s Reputation Worldwide?” thing.
It’s all really complicated, and I don’t pretend to have a solid understanding (for example, the new news that protests have spread to Sydney is a bit of a blow to my optimism of Westernized apathy). But if millions of Middle Eastern Muslims really cared about every new YouTube video that insulted their religion, well, they’d be rioting all the time…
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