Saturday, September 15, 2012


When the U.S. embassy in Egypt was attacked on Tuesday, Mitt Romney didn't directly defend the film that was reported to be the reason for the protesters' outrage. He did, of course, attack the Obama administration because the embassy sought to reduce tension:
"It's disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks."
By Thursday, he had decided that he didn't like the film, although he believes it's legal (which is the Obama administration's position as well):
Romney told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that while he had not seen the film himself, he knew enough to declare it a "very bad thing."

"You know, I think it's dispiriting sometimes to see some of the awful things people say," Romney said. "And the idea of using something that some people consider sacred and then parading that out a negative way is simply inappropriate and wrong. And I wish people wouldn't do it."

Romney said that the film is clearly legal under the Constitution.

"Of course, we have a First Amendment, and under the First Amendment, people are allowed to do what they feel they want to do," he said. "They have the right to do that, but it's not right to do things that are of the nature of what was done by, apparently this film."
But we all know that Romney is terrified of his base. So I wonder how long it's going to be before he reverses his position on this, and declares the makers of the film to be martyrs to an Obama administration assault on free speech.

The Obama administration asked -- asked, nor ordered -- Google to remove the offending film clip from YouTube. To me that's no different from an administration asking a newspaper not to publish classified material -- it's a request that a private speech purveyor weigh the possible consequences of a particular speech act. And Google decided to leave the clip up, though it's being blocked in certain countries. Real fascists would laugh if you described that as fascism.

Nakoula Bassseley Nakoula, who seems to be the "Sam Bacile" who helped spearhead the film, has been taken in for questioning -- but Nakoula, who was convicted on meth charges in the 1990s and on check-kiting charges in 2009 (and was, alas, a federal informant), is being charged with parole violations:
... the terms of Nakoula's prison release contain behavior stipulations that bar him from accessing the Internet or assuming aliases without the approval of his probation officer.
But the right has circled the wagons and decided that the filmmakers are the real victims here. It isn't just this wingnut blogger declaring that the "US government [is] now acting as [the] censorship arm of Islamists." It's former Cabinet secretary (and one-time Paul Ryan mentor) William Bennett railing at the administration at the Values Voter Summit:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he said, "wonder[ed] aloud whether...our own constitutional freedoms go just a bit too far."

... Bennett went on: "A Muslim mob brutalizes and murders an American ambassador, a representative of the United States of America, to disgrace him, and to disgrace us. They would murder us, and brutalize us, too -- all of us. And our government reacts by shuddering and shaking, and wondering that the consequences of our First Amendment, that blames an inconsequential fool of a filmmaker with a paltry influence, for the venom unleashed in another part of the world. God help us. God help us."
It's the decision by Roger Ailes -- the de facto information minister of the Republican shadow government -- to throw gasoline on the fire by bringing on Pam Geller to discuss the situation on Fox & Friends:

TUCKER CARLSON: So, the president said the U.S., quote, "rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. What is he saying when he says something like that?

PAMELA GELLER: Well, this is adherence to the blasphemy laws under the sharia. Under the sharia, you cannot criticize or offend Islam. By condemning the movie, he's condemning freedom of expression. He's condemning freedom of speech. And he also sanctioning these murderous rages....
So just denouncing the movie is a violation of the filmmakers' First Amendment rights? Yes, this is the Sarah Palin view of free speech -- but it seems to be very much in sync with what the rest of the right thinks. Unfortunately for Mitt Romney, he denounced the film, too.

Which is why I think he's going to walk that denunciation back soon, or at least begin to start charging the Obama administration with a advocacy of laws against blasphemy against Muslims. If he doesn't, he'll remain in defiance of his base.


Victor said...

This is all because the "movie" denigrates Muslims.

You can bet your bottom dollar if a "movie" was made about either Abraham and/or Jesus being a goat-feckin' child-buggering sodomite, Pam and Bill would get on their high horses about how the morals and senses of decency and propriety have gone down hill in this country - ever since Obama was elected.

We now can add a second thing that defines Conservatism, beyond the usual, "Whatever pisses-off the Liberals!" one
The new addition is, "Whatever pisses-off the Muslims and non-Christians."

The fact that FOX and Rush-wing talk radio are allowed to exist, spewing lies and propaganda, should tell everyone how much we believe in "Free Speech."

Those have done far more damage to Middle Eastern peace and our relations with the countries there, than any "movie" depicting Mohammed as some goat-feckin child-buggering sodomit.

Mark said...

There's a little Pamela Geller connection to the publicizing of this film.

As the NY Times reported -
"Last week, an Egyptian-American Copt known for his broadsides against Muslims drew attention to the trailer in an Arabic-language blog post and an e-mail newsletter in English publicizing the latest publicity stunt of the Florida pastor Terry Jones, reviled in the Muslim world for burning copies of the Koran. ... The Coptic activist, Morris Sadek, did not respond to a request for an interview, but he is an ally of Mr. Jones and his blog post features a photograph of the two men at a tiny, anti-Islam protest outside the White House in June. Later, he told The Associated Press that he planned screenings of the film."

Morris Sadek has been part of Geller's anti-mosque rallies.

So, Fox News had her on as a "commentator" to back up something supported by her ally.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Probably not, Victor.

Fringies that they are, they are not part of the Christian right.

Neither are they neocons, though the neocons value their constant anti-Islam propaganda as does the Christian right.

But the neocons have risen to their defense pretty much to a man, and apparently not the Christian right, at least so far.

Don't be too sure they will, either.

The leaders of the Christian right have to be tempted to let the liberals and the Muslims betray the First Amendment into their hands, after all.

If the law takes away the freedom of unrestrained attacks on Islam it will do the same to protect Christianity.

When you get down to it, such attacks on Christianity are not terribly upsetting to the secular and Jewish neocons of NRO and The Weekly Standard, for example, no matter how profoundly they anger the Christian right.

Especially if keeping them legal is the price of keeping sharp and relentless denunciation of Islam legal.

That is very high on the neocon list of political priorities, after all.

But it could go the other way.

Everywhere in the Muslim world, Christians and Christianity are under increasingly violent attacks, and the Muslim onslaught regularly includes desecration of sacred objects and Bible burning.

The Christian right – and remember they have their own TV networks and many radio shows under their own direct control, not dependent on Murdoch’s NewCorp empire in any way – may yet seize the opportunity to publicize these facts much more widely as part of a right wing attack on Obama and the Democrats.

They may yet choose to support a major national campaign of Obama-bashing for ignoring Muslim fanaticism and violence and even fronting on this free speech issue for the Muslim Brotherhood, out of cowardice if not because, as so many of them have been openly saying for years, Obama is a Muslim or at any rate is just far too sympathetic to the Muslim cause.

Hard to say which way they will go.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Sorry, by "they" in my second sentence I mean PG and RS and the others who run a broad network of anti-Islamist web sites.

Philo Vaihinger said...

As for Romney, he's way out of his depth and shows how clueless he really is about anything that matters, every time he does another full circle around any issue, at all.