Tuesday, September 11, 2012

(not the economy)

Egyptian protesters scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy on Tuesday, tore down the American flag and burned it during a protest over what they said was a film being produced in the United States that insulted Prophet Mohammad....

The U.S. embassy had put out a statement earlier on Tuesday condemning "misguided individuals" who hurt the religious feelings of Muslims or followers of other religions.

"We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others," the U.S. embassy said in its statement....
Our finest journalistic minds have never heard of such a thing:

Let me take you back to 2008:
President Bush has apologized to Iraq's prime minister for an American sniper's shooting of a Quran, and the Iraqi government called on U.S. military commanders to educate their soldiers to respect local religious beliefs.

Bush's spokeswoman said Tuesday that the president apologized during a videoconference Monday with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who told the president that the shooting of Islam's holy book had disappointed and angered both the Iraqi people and their leaders.

"He apologized for that in the sense that he said that we take it very seriously," White House press secretary Dana Perino said. "We are concerned about the reaction. We wanted them to know that the president knew that this was wrong."
The film in question is, being promoted by Terry Jones, the attention-whore Florida preacher who was once talked out of a Koran burning by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The film is certainly intended to be as provocative as a Koran-burning, as The Atlantic notes:
What exactly does the film say? It's still not clear, but it appears to compare Mohammed to a goat and Muslims, according to one translation, to "child-lovers." ... The man in [one] scene says of his donkey, "This is the first Muslim animal." He asks the goat if it likes girls; when it doesn't answer, he bursts into laughter and says, "He doesn't like girls," according to [Liam] Stack of The New York Times]. Other scenes ... seem to portray Muslim Egyptian characters, who for some reason all have strong New York accents, as immoral and violent, particularly toward the Christians whom they pursue with near-genocidal fervor. A number of Islam's founding figures, including the prophet, are accused of homosexuality and child molestation.
(Watch clips at the Atlantic link.)

This incident would be seem to be tailor-made for Romney, who apparently wanted to run a campaign against Obama largely(or entirely) about Obama's alleged tendency to "apologize for America" -- the Romney book was called of course, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness.

But if Romney does this, I don't think it's going to work. In general, I don't agree that Romney is struggling to beat Obama because the public has long memories of George W. Bush (I think the public is just reacting badly to GOP boilerplate), but this kind of macho saber-rattling really would bring back unpleasant memories of years of Bush swagger. So Romney will have to drop it the way he drops all his rage-junkie efforts, after it fails to move the polls.

I understand why right-wingers find it intensely pleasurable to imagine a president telling these rioters to "go to hell." But unless you have enough force to prevent or quell all incidents of this kind anywhere in the world where they might happen, you have no freaking choice except to shut the hell up and try to lower the temperature, otherwise lots of innocent people are at risk of being hurt or killed. Grown-ups understand this, even if Republicans don't.


UPDATE, WEDNESDAY: The administration has walked back the State Department's apology (while adopting some of the apology's language):
"The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government," an administration official told POLITICO....

"Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a Tuesday statement.

The Romney campaign accused the Obama administration of sympathizing with the protests in a statement released after the administration statement.
Is this going to mollify Romney? Doubt it. But let him rattle sabers. Nobody but his base wants to hear that Bush-wah.

... and it's being reported that a rocket attack has killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three staffers, after they were rushed from the embassy during protests of this film. Yeah, just keep whacking that hornet's nest, Pastor Jones. Jesus loves you for it.


AND: Talking Points Memo reminds us that the initial statement by the U.S. embassy in Egypt was issued before the protests began.


Victor said...

What's the film going to be rated, "FG," for Feckin' of Goats?

Who's producing this septic epic?

I'll tell you who - someone with too much money on their hands, because we don't tax their rich ass enough.

If what you wrote about this movie is true, I'm speechless that there are people who'd produce such a piece of sh*t, and that people would actually pay money to go see this.

I know I shouldn't be speechless, but sometimes what comes from our supposedly religious moral right-wingers is so depraved, that I'm still capable of being taken aback.

And if some Arab millionaire funds a movie to reciprocate, where the 'passion of the Christ' is either Paul or Peter, or both at the same time, will have hysterical conniption fits.

Victor said...

Also too - if religion is the opiate of the masses, when will all of the religious people in this world finally overdose?

And will they take all of the rest of us in some murder-suicide?

Philo Vaihinger said...


You're on the wrong side on this.

“I understand why right-wingers find it intensely pleasurable to imagine a president telling these rioters to ‘go to hell.’

“But unless you have enough force to prevent or quell all incidents of this kind anywhere in the world where they might happen, you have no freaking choice except to shut the hell up and try to lower the temperature, otherwise lots of innocent people are at risk of being hurt or killed.

“Grown-ups understand this, even if Republicans don't.”

That is absolutely wrong, and I am not only referring to your highly objectionable suggestion that the US – or did you actually mean the pastor, himself? – has a responsibility to quell Muslim mob violence all over the world if it chooses to allow – or the pastor chooses to indulge in – free speech “offensive” to Muslims.

The threat of violence – always against innocents, of course – cannot become a successful path to victory for religious fanatics or the mobs they incite.

No more for Muslims than for Christians, Buddhists, or anyone else.

They must not be taught that if they kill and pillage enough the supposed defenders of freedom will measure costs and benefits and then surrender like so many frightened owners of bookstores with suddenly embarrassing copies of “The Satanic Verses” on their shelves.

The pastor is a crank, but he is the victim here and not the bad guy, as are all of us who insist on freedom to attack, mock, and revile and not just meekly dissent from religion, whether we personally are given to such behavior or not.

Remember the controversy about Piss Christ?

Our government needs to defend free speech and blame those whose "religious feelings are hurt" – transparent code for religious mobs, terrorists, and thugs who fly into an evil rage and threaten or engage in actual violence to crush the freedom they hate – rather than the other way ‘round.

And pointing at that fool Bush with his mawkish, transparently insincere blather about Islam being “really” a “religion of peace,” to legitimate Obama’s disgraceful deference toward religion, whether Christian in America or Muslim abroad, is not acceptable.

Make no mistake.

It isn't just Christian bigots that this sort of moral cowardice in the face of criminal, hateful religious passion when it’s Muslims on the rampage disappoints and even angers.

It's also secularists of every stripe, including the great majority of us who are firmly on the progressive side.

You can't put the American Christian right in the wrong by calling them "The American Taliban" when they whine about being mocked in our popular culture and then fall on your knees to kiss butt when Muslims scream in your face.

Philo Vaihinger said...

What should the embassy have done?

Condemned the threats and violence of religious fanatics as such in no uncertain terms and refused to let down the principle of free speech.

Right now in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, the FFRF is considering a suit to force the school board to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments they just put up at a public school.

What if Christians rioted in the streets and burned a flag at the local courthouse?

What if the White House then deplored the insensitivity of the atheists and urged them to back off, insisting outrageously as the embassy did that “respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy”?

Or as ludicrously as Hillary did that “the United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others”?

To hell with that baloney.

And this from the woman who, when Krauthammer demanded assurances, shockingly promised to turn Iran into a nuclear ashtray if that country attacked Israel.

And, yes, I know full well the real bottom line.

The Muslims control a lot of oil and GW was notoriously chummy with the Saudi Royal family, international funders and patrons of everything that is worst and most dangerous in Islam.

No doubt he got his “religion of peace” talking points from one of the princes who told him off in no uncertain terms.

To hell with that, too.

Steve M. said...

Terry Jones and his mysterious filmmaker are absolutely not victims. They are yelling "Fire!' in a crowded theater -- and they know perfectly well that that's what they're doing. Jones and the filmmaker know there's a faction of fanatics that very well might riot in response to their provocations. They want that to happen. They want it because it reinforces their message that all Muslims are evil.

America has (at least on paper) essentially absolute freedom of speech, including the freedom to blaspheme. But you're trying to take what ought to be the proper response in domestic situations and apply it in diplomatic situations, where the U.S. must strike a delicate balance in dealing with countries whose laws and customs and taboos aren't ours. Sorry, but you can't just take what's right in Pennsylvania and plop it down onto the State Department -- certainly not given recent history, especially the very recent, and still highly unsettled, history of the Arab Spring and its aftermath.

I'm sorry if, for you, antipathy to religion trumps all other considerations. My mileage varies.

Philo Vaihinger said...

I believe the pastor is doing his thing somewhere inside the United States, where, according to you, he is supposed to be quite free to do it.

Like you, I do not approve what he is doing and I do not approve his message.

I could and would say as much for Nazis marching in Skokie.

But I would defend the marchers and their right to march against their attackers if mobs in Skokie chose to attack them or residents clamored for the government to stop them because the Nazi message is hateful and offensive.

Yes, of course their message is hateful and offensive.

What kind of speech did you think the right to freedom of speech is supposed to protect?

If you attack somebody for an exercise in free speech he is the victim and you are in the wrong.

No exceptions.

Not even for Muslims, thanks.

BH said...

I'm hoping that our cooperation with the UK and France in ditching Qaddafi has given us enough leverage with the Lybian government - and that the Lybian government is secure enough and has sufficient practical authority - to get some arrests made ASAP in connection with the Ambassador's murder. In the meantime, dropping the temperature and avoiding worse violence seems to be the highest immediate priority. All of that is the kind of thing best done via diplomacy and with a minimum of high-flown rhetoric, seems to me.

Steve M. said...

Philo, the filmmaker didn't march through the streets of an American city -- he put the video on YouTube anticipating that it would inspire violence. I'll grant his legal right to do this in America, but no more. He is trying to incite violence.

And now I'm done arguing this.

Victor said...

There's freedom of speech, and there's having some common feckin' sense.

And a complete lack of common sense just caused four Americans, diplomats at that, in a highly sensitive area, their lives.

All so some pig-ignorant, backwater preacher, and some Israeli-American millionaire, could create some buzz for some movie these morons baked-up in their empty, Muslim-hating heads.

Your buzz is responsible for the deaths of 4 people.

Sadly, they'll probably put this in the credit side of their ledger sheets.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Actually, there has been some confusion about what bit of video actually was the occasion for all the mob action.

I saw reports it was something connected to the pastor who a while back was burning Korans, or anyway threatening to burn them.

But I saw reports it was some Jewish guy with joint American-Israeli citizenship who has now received the usual death threats and gone into hiding.

You may recall some Christians called in with death threats, a few weeks back, and frightened the billboard owners into taking down some FFRF ads condemning Christianity and Mormonism somewhere in the neighborhood of the Democratic convention.

Sometimes they earn KOS's label, "The American Taliban."

Its not a good thing when they win through intimidation.

No offense intended, friends.