Here is the narrative that pretty much everyone was buying into 36 hours ago: Crude anti-Islam film made by Israeli-American and funded by Jews leads to Muslim protests that boil over, causing four American deaths in Libya.
Here is what now seems to be the case: the anti-Islam film wasn’t made by an Israeli-American, wasn’t funded by Jews, and probably had nothing to do with the American deaths, which seem to have resulted from a long-planned attack by a specific terrorist group, not spontaneous mob violence.
In retrospect, the original narrative should have aroused immediate suspicion. If, for example, this lethal attack on an American consulate in a Muslim country was really spontaneous, isn’t it quite a coincidence that it happened on 9/11?
And as for the funding of the film: The filmmaker was said to be describing himself as Israeli-American and volunteering the fact that “100 Jewish donors” financed his project. Well, 1) 100 is a suspiciously round number; and 2) If you were this “Israeli-American,” would you be advertising that this incendiary film was a wholly Jewish enterprise? (Kudos to two excellent reporters: Sarah Posner, who seems to have been the first to raise substantive doubts about the filmmaker’s identity, and Laura Rozen, who seems to have been the first to suggest that he was “linked to [the] Coptic [Christian] diaspora”–a suggestion that so far is holding up.)
Maybe one reason these questions weren’t asked is because the original narrative fit so nicely into some common stereotypes–about crazy Muslims who get whipped into a death frenzy at the drop of a hat, about the backstage machinations of Jews, and about the natural tension between Muslims and Jews. (How many Americans had ever heard about intra-Egyptian tensions between Muslims and Coptic Christians, which may well have been the impetus for this film? How many had even heard of Coptic Christians?)
I bring all this up partly by way of warning that, though some early misconceptions have now been stripped away, we should be careful, as events unfold in the coming days, about letting simplistic mental templates continue to shape the story.
For example, it looks from afar as if ongoing demonstrations and disturbances are all about this film, and as if they’re therefore a reminder of how touchy those darn Muslims are. Well, it’s true that many Muslims in not-very-cosmopolitan, not-very-diverse, and historically authoritarian countries don’t yet share our commitment to free speech and pluralism, and react accordingly to offensive films. But it’s also true that these disturbances are about a lot more than this film. A number of grievances are at work, including, as Issandr El Amrani notes, various aspects of American foreign policy.
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Egyptian faux-rage, deadly American dhimmitude, and the return of Islamic Rage Boy; Update: US Ambassador to Libya, Foreign Service officer, two Marines private security contractors dead
What a disgusting and disastrous, but wholly predictable, way to end this day. As you may have heard, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo chose the 11th anniversary of 9/11 to apologize for “hurt Muslim feelings” as radical Egyptian clerics stoked faux-rage over an obscure documentary attacking Islamic extremism. The Obama administration’s mortifying apology, of course, did not mollify the Muslim agitators. Appeasement has never mollified the practitioners of the Religion of Perpetual Outrage.
Naturally, the Muslim mob stormed the Embassy compound, anyway — and the pretextual violence spread to Libya, where an American State Department worker was killed today* (UPDATE: FOUR killed, including the US Ambassador to Libya and Foreign Service information officer Sean Smith, along with TWO U.S. MARINES* UPDATE: Two former Navy SEALs working as private security contractors). The feckless State Department has deleted its groveling tweet and the White House is in pathetic damage control mode.
UPDATE: And now, of course, the Muslim Brotherhood is calling for worldwide protests.
Let’s cut through the diplomatic blather and Obama State Department’s p.c. charade. This isn’t about ordinary Egyptian Muslims being offended by Koran-burning or some genuine outcry for religious tolerance or widespread anger over how Mohammed is being portrayed. It’s about Egyptian imams and Muslim Brotherhood propagandists concocting any excuse for a violent anti-Western conflagration.
Though the film was the focus of demonstrators’ outrage, the spirited protest amounted to more of a general outpouring of grievances against U.S. policy in the Islamic world. Several signs and chants decried the U.S.-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as American support for Israel.
Many recalled the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that killed thousands of U.S. citizens 11 years earlier.
“Obama! Obama! We are all Osama!” went one chant, referring to Osama bin Laden, the late head of Al Qaeda, the militant Islamist organization widely believed to be responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
I’m reprinting my 9/11 remembrance column from two years ago as a refresher course on the “Islamic Rage Boy” phenomenon. He represents the professional Muslim grievance-monger, always at the ready to protest whatever manufactured insult could be exploited to curse the West. The late Christopher Hitchens wrote on the futility of appeasing the worldwide Rage Boy mob — a theme I’ve struck here for years, and which bears repeating again.
Lest you need reminding: 9/11 was a deliberate, carefully planned evil act of the long-waged war on the West by Koran-inspired soldiers of Allah around the world. They hated us before George W. Bush was in office. They hated us before Israel existed. And the avengers of the religion of perpetual outrage will keep hating us no matter how much we try to appease them. The post-9/11 problem isn’t whether we’ll forget. The problem is: Will we ever learn?
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