Once again, the extremists have fed each other. Once again, with other people’s blood.
The blood is that of one of the best friends the new Libya could have had: US Ambassador Christopher Stevens, killed yesterday, the evening of 9/11, along with three of his staff as they tried to evacuate employees of the American consulate in Benghazi. The evacuation was necessary because protestors had been whipped into violence by a 14-minute farce of a video attacking the prophet Muhammad. Or, as now seems possible, the protest was used as an excuse for a planned attack, since RPGs and automatic weapons were involved.
Al-Qaeda-type extremists are apparently the ones who pulled the trigger, using the insult to Islam as an excuse. But they could not have done so without the help of their partners — their Jewish and Christian brothers-in-arms right here in the United States. That’s who provided the ammunition, in the form of a shoddily crude and absurdly amateurish “movie trailer” portraying Muhammad as a fraud and his early supporters as a bunch of goons.
I’m deliberately not linking to the video here since I refuse to link to such tripe. This isn’t an insult to Islam; it’s an insult to human intelligence. If you feel sufficiently masochistic, you can find it on YouTube by typing in the title, ‘Muslim Innocence’ (the director’s idea of irony).
You’ll see that it’s made by ignorant fanatics for ignorant fanatics. Nobody else would pay it the blindest bit of attention. In fact nobody else did (even the director, an Israeli-American who goes by the name of Sam Bacile, which may or may not be a pseudonym, admits that the whole movie has been shown only once, to a nearly empty movie theater in California). Nobody else, that is, until Florida’s tinpot Quran-burning pastor Terry Jones — the one who once hanged President Obama in effigy and will apparently do anything to get himself back in the news — decided to showcase the trailer as part of his annual 9/11 Islamophobic rant.
I’ll write more about this very soon (I’m just back from a trip, and jet-lagged). But for now, two things:
1. Rest in peace, Christopher Stevens.
2. As for Terry Jones and the man calling himself Sam Bacile: if such a thing as hell exists, may you both rot in it, alongside your blood brothers in Al Qaeda.
I think it was a Libyan politician who said that the film was like crying fire in a movie theater; you’re free to say it, but once said you may have to pay the consequences. Too bad the wrong people always seem to pay the consequences for these type of people’s actions.
Another sad facet to the whole thing is how 9/11 rouses so many bigots, and how this sort of thing seems to convince more people to become bigots because they won’t see Terry Jones & Sam Bacile as being complicit. Although I’m sure they’re the same people who really complained about the flag and Christ being immersed in urine…
Thanks Lesley, for speaking up once again like so many other times when many of us just cringe and feel upset at such things. There are no words to describe the actions and methods some people choose to show their dislike for someone or something. They must be feeling defeated that’s why they have to keep coming with new ways to show their anger and frustration.
What I don’t understand about the people who react so violently to such provocations and filth if they really ‘KNOW’ the man they think they are defending by their actions. The man ‘Prophet Muhammad’ suffered so much insult and abuse at the hands of ignorant and misguided people in his own lifetime, but never reacted this way. As a matter of fact, just the opposite. He was most forgiving and used such actions as teachable moments.
What do we learn from his ‘sunnah’? We will be hurting him more by killing innocent people in his name. I beg all those muslims who respond to hate with more hate to go back to the teachings of Prophet Muhammed and follow his practice. As Allah calls him the ‘ ‘blazing, bright sun’ in the Quran, so what happens when we trying to spit at the sun? I will come back on our face. We should wait for that moment. It will come back on ‘their face’.
Always sensible, always well-informed, and isn’t it always not-that-complicated really – thank you, as always. xo
I absolutely agree with you and Jones makes me embarrassed to live in the same state as he does. He is a terrorist and should be arrested and tried as such.
Obviously I detest the man as much as you. He’s a dangerous big-mouthed loose-cannon bigot, but terrorists are defined by their actions, not their speech. He feeds terrorism, but he does not commit it, nor directly urge people to commit it, and thus, however abhorrent the idea may be, he is not legally liable. If that seems wrong, then answer this: do you really want to live in a country where it’s possible to jail people for what they say? Where under a different administration, you could then be jailed for what you say?
Unfortunately this fellow seems to have the usual axe to grind. Following from what you wrote, I did not watch the trailer as you’re right, it’s rather masochistic to willingly engage in such ignorance (if I understood you correctly).
But I don’t see this as particularly controversial – historically, various sainted characters have been villified, defamed, insulted. But the test of one’s faith is, importantly, whether it can stand criticism. I think Islam fundamentally can. Scholars, Imams, sheikhs historically have been known to respond to various criticisms in the seminaries – and no one had to get killed (in general). Moreover, the voice of the Qur’an has rebutted, in its own days, the claims made against it and the Prophet – so following on in its example, I would hope that Muslims would do the same.
Now whether (we) Muslims can, is a different question. Of course, and this isn’t legitimising the violence, in a society where the religious culture is more apparent, where religious sentiments are heightened and people hold dear (not in a hagiographic sense always) a truly great and charismatic personality, I can understand how the sentiments spill over.
This isn’t considering who actually committed the acts of barbarism – if they’re from the mujahid persuasion (and I suspect they might be as automatic weapons were apparently used) then of course their logic is rather different and perhaps needs to be contextualised in a more third-world (lack of literacy, poor socio-economic means, different religious culture?), anti-hegemonic, anti-imperial/postcolonial situation – again not justifying it, and ironically enough these groups tend to be funded from the West or its client states. Unfortunately the actions of those in arms will give fodder to those who think such a film is timely.
I can understand the anger – what is curious to me is that the US government and its representatives are still, at least in Libyan eyes (and I could be misreading the situation) conflated with both anti-Islamic sentiments, and perhaps even with either a Jewish/Zionist anti-Arab/anti-Islamic conspiracy – and though I don’t tend to conflate Judaism with Zionism, I can certainly understand why in that part of the world they do.
“[109:5] For you is your faith, and for me, my faith.”
Re “in Libyan eyes,” it seems the majority of Libyans, as well as the Libyan government, are sincere in their denunciation of this murder, not least because they appreciate the role of the US — and in particular of the assassinated ambassador — in helping oust Qaddafi. Paranoid rhetoric about US imperialism in the post-Bush/Cheney era seems to be the much reduced province of militant extremists like Salafis and Qaeda, not the mainstream. As has been noted endlessly in the past 48 hours, Libyan politics are still, in the word of choice of the NYT, “volatile,” but I get the impression that many more citizens of Muslim countries are sick and tired of the way militant fundamentalists distort Islam and manipulate it to serve their own interests.
Fair points. Thank you for responding. I hope that you’re having a blessed and peaceful night.
I should have been more specific – In some Libyans’ eyes – but even that, you are correct, is a rather broad generalisation.
I suspect many are pleased with the ousting of Qaddafi, though I hope Libyans will still remember to view US motives with suspicion. I’m no apologist for political thuggery nor dictators, despots or demagogues, but I don’t believe (but am willing to be shown otherwise) that the removal of Qaddafi was sincere, alas, in the same way that the U.S stood by Mubarak until his position was completely untenable, or becoming an embarrasment for the State Department.
Moreover the US/Western track record on Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iran and the Palestinians are rather problematic. As someone from the anti-war movement said, if the major Libyan export was asparagus, would we be so sure that the U.S would have interveined? Rhetoric aside, it did give me pause to consider that question.
“Paranoid rhetoric about US imperialism in the post-Bush/Cheney era seems to be the much reduced province of militant extremists like Salafis and Qaeda, not the mainstream”
Do you mean in terms of how the Libyans/Middle Easterners at large might not be as inclined to agree with the suggestion that the U.S’ interests aren’t imperial? Though I don’t agree with the tactics of al-Qaeda and Salafis, nor do I understand their (rather warped) theology, I do believe sincerely that the U.S (particularly, but not exclusively) is perpetrating a rather sharp imperial agenda (though there could be neomarxist readings into that too, which I might be mistakenly be calling Imperialist).
Moreover, their funding of militants in Syria (and I do pray that the Syrians win democracy for themselves) via client states i.e. Saudi Arabia, Turkey is highly suspect – I don’t think the concern was so great for the Syrians ten years ago; and as I understand it the Assad and Qaddafi governments were participants in the Extraordinary Rendition project.
The irony of course was that Syria got suspended from the Arab League – a collection of western-backed totalitarian regimes – for squashing a democratic revolution (!); or that when the Saudi government became one of the leading voices for democracy in Syria, the Obama administration, and Secretary of State Clinton soon realised how farcial it was to call their movement the Friends of Democratic Syria.
Perhaps I have read too much Chomsky, though!
Mehdi Hasan (I think) said some months ago, that as a proportion of their population, the Bahrainis have suffered far more repression, torture, imprisonment than Syrians (at least at the time) but of course the arms trade resumed with Bahrain – moreover the 5th Fleet happens to be stationed there so we don’t get as much coverage in the news about it. We (and I say this with some guilt as a British citizen) armed Qaddafi, Saddam, al-Khalifa.
If you haven’t seen the reports yet, alternate new outlets, e.g Press TV, as well as al-Manar and Zee News have been reporting today that ‘surveillance’ drones have been dispached to Libya in the wake of the murders at the US embassy (assassinations? I never know how important one must be in order to be assassinated), as well as ships from one of the Naval fleets – this does worry me indeed and seems to be part of a policy that some might call neocolonial. In the same way that the US is shooting fire from the skies elsewhere over foreign territory (Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen), I fear that this could set a rather terrifying precedent.
I’ve just realised I’ve been writing an argument rather than a response; apologies if my tone was overly-confrontational.
Apologies accepted, but it’s good to have reasoned argument from another point of view. Killing an ambassador does count as an assassination, though. And thus as an international crisis point. So far, Obama seems to be handling it well. I clearly have a lot more faith in his administration than you do. Or maybe I just don’t expect perfection. That is, I never expected him to be the messiah. What I did expect is what he’s been: a sane, intelligent leader doing his best in the face of intense obstructionism here at home. Only ideologues stay ‘pure’ — and ideologues are precisely the problem, both in the US and abroad.
Reblogged this on Heightened Senses and commented:
I seem to be more and more referring to this blog! In response to the events of the last couple of days, Hazleton writes a rather good piece.
Firstly – sorry I vanished! Had a weird week healthwise! Indeed, reasoned debate is something I aspire to. I wonder if it’s much harder to have in the states – the political system seems so be one of extremes – even though in many respects, the centre ground appears much closer to both ‘ends’ of the spectrum in the US in general than it it does here.
Indeed, the ideologues unfotunately have made having any sort of debate with nuance very, very difficult, and at times, a rather tortuous process. I certainly believe that Obama is better than the alternatives, but alas his capacity, even as a self-proclaimed centrist, has been hindered because of (in my perhaps unqualified opinion) operant (I think that’s the word I’m looking for!) power structures and control of both information and resources – I certainly didn’t expect him to be able to change those mechanisms, at least to any degree that would alter the landscape of the discourse dramatically.
But I’ll give it to him – the man is actually quite intelligent. I wish he had better PR though – those speeches he gave which appeared to have mobilised a generation is what he should have worked on more – brought the country over to his side so that at least if Congress didn’t act /cooperate according to the new political landscape, he wouldn’t be seen as culpable or as easy a target for the Romney bid. I don’t know if that would have help curb the now nearly fanatical the Tea-Party movement – and I understand he had a rather damaged economy to deal with too.
In terms of foreign policy, thogh, I’m glad on the one hand that his policies on Iran haven’t been as aggressive as McCain’s or (God-forbid Romney) would be, and that though it hasn’t made much of a difference, his attitude toward the Palestinian statehood-bid has been more positive than we’ve seen for about a decade; on the other hand I’m so gravely disappointed at the policies toward, say, Latin America, Cuba/GTMO, and now the ‘hit list’ scandal which is still being written about in our papers here, at the least. But in terms of domestic policy, of course, living abroad, I can’t gauge the political climate on the ground as well as you can. Though in my opinion, his hand in widening the healthcare availability (though certainly not an ideal system by far) is his saving grace in my eyes.
But unless if his policies are more focussed or he has better success with Congress in the next term, I’m worried that he will have missed some rather large opportunities in terms of creating a more friendly, fair and less imperial image of the US, both at home and abroad. Maybe once he’s in his next term, with the end-point somewhat in sight, he might be able to take greater political risks. As an example, I’m not much of a fan of Clinton but he appears to be remembered quite well in the ‘liberal’ (and I find it rather odd that Clinton’s something of a liberal – or at least in the O’Reilly, Coulter, Malkin, Limbaugh et al paradigm, haha!) press.
Reading this back to myself – I’m realising that my own terms and references to American politics is one of extremes also – my discourse if framed by the reportage of the international press and Democracy Now! – so perhaps I’m my own problem here!
One of the United States’ many problems: not only is socialism a dirty word (as in the Republican campaign against “socialized medicine”) but so too is the word ‘liberal.’ You’re right in that the mainstream political spectrum here is far narrower than that in the UK and most of Europe. For an ex-Brit like me, it can be… frustrating.