The Obama administration, as did to an extent the Bush administration before it, and now even Rep. candidate Romney, all persist in not levelling with the Muslims of the world. I have some readers in Muslims countries so I will do it myself. I hope they will pass the word.
1 Our government pretty much operates withing the bounds of a short constitution written and adopted a long time ago. It’s not just a fiction as the world’s mental adolescents tend to believe. It’s a reality. The main word here is “bounds” imposed on government action.
2 Our constitution unambiguously protects blasphemy and blasphemers.
What separates our moral tradition in that area from Muslims is not a little ditch as American governments and the pussy-footed State Department bureaucrats would sometimes have you believe. It’s a Grand Canyon.
It’s not that we don’t understand the pleasures and merits of prohibiting and punishing blasphemy. We tried it. For several centuries, our ancestors burned people alive for small deviations in belief. They did it with an enthusiasm never seen in Islam. Then, we decided that any restrictions to freedom of expression destroyed both human happiness and human progress. Shortly afterwards Christian and formerly Christian societies began forging ahead of all primarily Muslim societies. No exception.
We don’t imprison or otherwise punish artists who blaspheme the mainstream religion of our country, Christianity, when they place a crucifix in a bucket of piss or use elephant shit as material for a religious object pertaining to the Virgin Mary. Our governments are equally impotent to condemn a movie leader you happen to find insulting. How deeply or strongly your feelings in this respect are is completely irrelevant. And if you try to punish those who so offend you, you are breaking our laws and you become liable to our punishment.
More on the movie leader below.
The early apology the US Embassy in Cairo apparently issued unfortunately suggests that our diplomatic personnel is not that clear about our constitution. It’s a good emanation of the Obama administration in this respect. Let me re-affirm it: The US Constitution does not protect the right of Muslims anywhere not to be offended. It protects every American’s right to offend anyone, including Muslims.
The President is not a jihadist and he is not a Muslim as some conservatives persist in affirming. He just does not know what to do or what to say in the current crisis, as he does not know what to say or do in connection with the economic crisis. I told you this before he was even elected: He never had a job in his life; his grades are in hiding. Why wouldn’t he be out of his depth? The best he said, he said it about candidate Romney and it would wonderfully apply to himself: He shoots before he aims.
One fear lurks in my heart though: If President Obama manages to kill any violent jihadist leader he can present as somehow responsible for the attack on our consulate in Benghazi and for the murder of the US ambassador, I think he will be re-elected as a brave war leader( and my indignation will strangle me).
As usual, our liberal elite demonstrates a deeply anchored ignorance of anything foreign. Secretary Clinton, soon echoed by Senator Feinstein ( one of the few Democratic politicians I like), wonders how the violent jihadists could do it to us, in the very country and the very city, Benghazi, we helped save from bloody destruction.
Ms. Secretary, Ms Senator: That’s why they did it. First, the Salafists, extreme jihadists, played a minor part in the liberation of Libya from dictatorship. They were upstaged by the same infidels who recently dispatched their figurehead in Pakistan. Their collective credibility was at stake.
Second, Ms Secretary, Ms Senator, there is no reason to believe that the violent jihadists respond to our own behavior in any way except the way I describe above. They don’t kill us because of what we do, they kill us because of who we are. They also kill Middle-Eastern Christians, Jews, and Shiite Muslims because of who they are. Their ideology comprises no reason to stop waging war until they have conquered the whole world for a reborn Islamic Caliphate. Some are willing to die in the service of this grand cinematographic endeavor. But, incidentally, if you think about it, the number really willing to die is quite small in relation to one billion Muslims (take or leave one hundred million).
On the absence of a relationship between what we, America, do and what violent jihadists try to do to us, you might read a long oped by Husain Haqqani in the Wall Street Journal of 9/14/12. He is a former Pakistani ambassador to the US and currently a professor of international relations at Boston University. His name suggests he is not a Lutheran.
More silly waste of time among our hapless pundits: Was the attack in Benghazi planned? You bet! Even in Libya, people don’t go to a peaceful demonstration of protest carrying automatic rifles and grenade launchers. The day was 9/11, the right time to strike the imagination of the undecided, perhaps the right time in their reading of us to strike fear in Americans again. The indignation about the blasphemous movie trailer provided excellent cover. The terrorists got lucky this time. (They have not had much luck in the past nine years, let’s face it.)
All the same, the question can’t help arise about the origin and the function of the said blasphemous bit of a bad movie, a sure object of provocation for the wider Muslim world. The 9/13/12 Wall Street Journal has a piece tracing it to Coptic Christians (Egyptians Christians ) living in the US who falsely attributed its production to a non-existent Israeli also living in the US.( Le Figaro echoes this thesis the next day.) The seemingly silly cover could be in fact a smart cover.
First, I have trouble imagining Copts doing something like this under their own power, with millions of their relatives serving as hostages in an excited Muslim Egypt governed by Islamists.
Second, I can’t help but notice that if I wanted to cast the Arab Muslim world in a bad light, I could hardly think of anything better than the said film. By insulting the Prophet Mohammed, you can always make Muslim Arabs riot on command. It never fails. It’s like pressing a button. If I wanted to renew and improve American public opinion support for a strike anywhere in the Middle-East, I would fill American television screens with screaming, murderous Muslim mobs setting fire to American embassies. It never fails: Insult the Prophet – Riots – Cause Americans to dislike Muslim Arabs. I don’t believe much in conspiracies but I am willing to consider the possibility, especially when they don’t require large numbers to keep a secret.
Finally, I want to examine briefly a continuing mystery. All media, including Fox News, love pictures of Embassies going up in flames. But, in fact, when I listen carefully, I find that all the reports I receive in English or in French refer to “hundreds” of rioters in any given country except possibly Egypt. Rioters reportedly set fire to the German Embassy in Sudan. (Sudanese rioters may simply not know any more geography than your average American high-school student. Don’t cast stones from inside your glasss-house!) Rioters in Lebanon burned a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise while under the impression that Colonel Sander is a great Christian prophet, I assume: tit-for-tat, no more Mister Nice Guy! The international display of rage would all be rather pathetic were it not for the assassinations of four Americans. That’s the only thing giving the display a measure of gravitas.
The mystery is the deafening silence of Muslims who are not violent jihadists themselves and of the institutions that present themselves as representing them. Our television capture Muslim Arab masses acting like savages and they say nothing. I am tirelessly stating that I have know Muslim Arabs all my life. On the average, they were kinder, gentler, easier to get along with than the Christians and the Jews in my life. (But the free-thinkers and atheist were the nicest of all.) People who would not raise a hand to swat a mosquito seem to contemplate with equanimity highly public disgusting behavior that is certain to increase the Western prejudice against them. Why ?
I am not a theologian but I suspect that the bulk of the answer lies in the Muslim doctrine of takfirism. To simplify, I am sure terribly but, I am equally sure, usefully, the doctrine says this: When a Muslim (singular) sees something wrong being done, it’s his right and his duty to intervene to stop the wrong. No consultation with others, just with one’s conscience; no worries about “taking the law into one’s own hands,” that’s what the doctrine tells you to do; not much room for consideration and re-consideration.
I think few Muslims are literally takfirists. However, the same Muslims who find it difficult to swat a mosquito find it even more difficult to condemn takfirism. That’s because the doctrine of takfirism is tightly bound with what is most admirable in Islam, the religion. I mean its extreme moral individualism: No excuses, no hiding behind a “church,” no Talmudic discussion of fine points verging on recommendations for inaction, no lace-adorned Pope in Rome interceding on your behalf, no sacred singing to distract, no forgiving congregation, no pastor assuring you every Sunday that God has got your back.
We, Americans, however, are mostly not takfirists at all. I don’t know how many American Muslims are. I don’t know how many Muslims who live in American are. I don’t really care. Terrorist guided y takfirism will equally murder, and with a light heart, the children of Muslims and of Christians and of Jews and of non-believers. We must destroy those who destroy us and even those who say they want to destroy us, and those who help them. That’s irrespective of why they want to kill us, that’s irrespective of some stupid, badly made Internet movie; that’s irrespective of whether someone in this country committed blasphemy or not. Again, blasphemy is unambiguously protected under our constitution. Bad taste is our birthright. It’s worth fighting for.
If you are a Muslim or a non-Muslim resident of a mostly Muslim country, and if you can do so safely, please leave a comment. You can be completely sure your comment will not be censored. (I have no procedure by which I can filter comments on this blog. ) Feel free to use a pseudonym.
UPDATE 10/11/12 Testimony before a Congressional Committee on October 10th demonstrated that the murderous attack on the US consulate in Benghazi was not preceded by nor associated with a spontaneous riot. There was no link between this event and the video insulting to the Prophet Mohammed. It was simply a terrorist act to celebrate the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York. My instincts were right. I am not bragging; I am wondering why the media’s understanding is so befuddled. Could it be political bias that blinds them?