A piece of filth called Innocence of Muslims has lead to protests across the world, violence, and the expected back-backlash from the west. Both sides are portraying each other with paper thin stereotypes and not paying attention to the other. So lets get a few things straight.
Now, the Islamic world has a legitimate claim in that they’ve been demonized by the west going back to the Crusades and beyond. This was done for political reasons. To be fair the Islamic world has demonized the west and others and played on this inferiority complex, mostly for political reasons, as well. Far easier to blame the Moslem hoards or the crusader infidel than actually solving problems. Much better for those in power to use “islamic terrorists” or “western imperialists” as an excuse to take away freedoms. That’s simpler than actually letting regular people have a say in what happens to their resources or youth sent off to war.
That these protests have been manipulated by groups behind the scenes for their own ends is demonstrable in several ways. The film hit YouTube in July but was mostly ignored until September. Then in September, ‘spontaneous’ street protests sprung up in multiple spots around the world nearly simultaneously rather than spreading from country to country in a more organic fashion, such as how the Arab Spring evolved. Lastly, in response to this film, people as far apart as Tunisia, Palestine, and Indonesia are protesting using the same chants and making the same demands. Don’t get me wrong now, this film is offensive to anyone with even simple taste, let alone Islamic sensibilities. It is the response that is being manipulated.
The protestors on the streets can be divided into several sub groups. First there is a large group of people that are protesting because of what they have been told. This is the same group that were wearing Nuke ‘Em Till They Glow t-shirts in the US when Iran took over the US Embassy. These are the same group that are violently protesting in China because Japan is claiming some islands that most of those on the streets never heard of. The reaction is more visceral than logical. Their horizon extends to the world they see immediately around them. Their circle of information sources is equally limited. Of course they would accept that this was a US film. In their country the government has final say if someone wants to publish something, or make a film, or distribute a piece of artwork. Their media is controlled so they would naturally assume that it is in the US. If someone in the US makes a film like this then this MUST, in their mind, be what the US government believes because the US government let it happen. If someone in Denmark publishes cartoons about Mohammed, this MUST be what the Danish government, and by extension all of Europe, believes and wanted to happen. They are basing their demand that the film be pulled and the film maker be punished because that’s the way it works in their country. I suspect that a big portion of this group has never seen the film, or anything on YouTube, or even a computer. They are basing their response on what those that they believe and trust are telling them. Example: When a BBC reported was talking to a protestor in Tunisia and pointed out that this was not the result of something the US had done, rather it was because in the US people were free to do or say whatever they want, the protestor replied “If your freedom says you can insult my religion then I say to hell with freedom.” This is someone that just does not understand what is going on. He doesn’t understand that the freedom that lets someone make this film is the very same freedom that let him protest last year and toss out his government. There’s no difference between this protestor and the protestors in the US that loudly supported the invasion of Iraq to overthrow Saddam because of the 9/11 attacks. That Saddam had nothing to do with the disaster did not change their minds because they trusted sources that history has shown to be lying to further their own agenda. Such is the case here
The second group are those that are pulling the strings. They have their own agenda. They saw this as a chance to get the street up in arms about the US and the west. Why else would the German Embassy be attacked in Sudan? They had nothing to do with the film, but they are part of “the west” that has charged the Sudanese ruler with crimes against humanity. Whether ersatz Al Qaida operatives, or government people or independent militias, they seek to bring instability to further their own agendas. In some cases to blunt the west’s influence, in others to destabilize their own internal governments, and in others the local governments are using this to distract attention from their own failings. These are often the people that the first group listens to.
Lastly there are the independent actors. For example the “protest” that resulted in the death of the US ambassador to Libya and three others. It’s increasingly apparent that this was a premeditated attack. They entered the country and city, gathered weapons, and set the scene. Whether they initiated the protest or just took advantage of it is not clear. What is clear is that you don’t go to a protest over a film with RPGs, AK-47s, and Molotov cocktails. You don’t attend a protest with a plan to set fire to the embassy and then execute an ambush on the only escape route. It’s not a spontaneous protest when all this happens on the only day this year that the US ambassador will be at that consulate. These independent actors, whether die-hard Gaddafi supporters in Libya, or those opposed to western influence on the Arabian peninsula, or groups wanting an independent state carved out of Indonesia would act regardless. The protests just make a convenient cover for their actions. For a decade their have been ongoing attacks against UN forces in Afghanistan, but starting in September each was followed by a press release saying it was in response to the film. In previous months the statements would say it was in response to a particular allied attack, or to commemorate some date. The attacks would have happened anyway. The excuse is what changed and the film is the excuse of the month. However these actions are often lumped together by the second group as examples to pull strings and to incite the mob ON BOTH SIDES.
One of the issues that has come up from this is a demand from several governments for an international law making it a crime to insult any religion. This is a tired recitation that has no chance of passing. Indeed, some of the very actors that are calling for it understand that it is unworkable. Sure to the poor man on a dusty street in Mali a ban on insulting Islam sounds like a good idea at first. But what about those areas where there’s more than one religion? The Shia and Sunni in Iraq each view the other as insulting Islam. Ask the Christians in Pakistan if laws against blasphemy have worked. Ask the Moslems in Burma or the Tibetans in China if letting the government regulate religion is a good plan. No, one person’s blasphemy is another’s religion. Not only would this law be unenforceable, it would result in a level of civil war and industrialized killing on a scale the world has never seen, and those leaders that are calling publicly for the law know this. In nearly every case it’s the last thing they actually want. It’s just fodder to keep the masses riled up, much as Iraq’s WMDs, Obama’s Birth Certificate, and Innocence of Muslims were.
Innocence of Muslims would have passed by unnoticed and be forgotten if it were not for the “outrage” pumped by religious and political operatives that saw this as an opportunity. An opportunity to get revenge for the wests support of then Arab Spring. An opportunity to make Obama look bad leading up to an election. An opportunity to destabilize some young governments. An opportunity to distract the average person from the failings of the people in power. An opportunity to distract attention from the genocide in Syria. It’s all being manipulated.
I saw this happen with The Last Temptation of Christ. A film that would have lost money without the kerfuffle from religious groups. They MADE the film a success. The same goes for The Passion of the Christ, a truly terrible film that was made into a success BY those that so loudly condemned it for their own purposes. Innocence of Muslims is another utterly terrible piece of trash. It was badly filmed, badly acted, badly dubbed, as embarrassing in its offensive stereotypes as a blackface minstrel show would be. Yet it’s been viewed hundreds of thousands of times because of the vested interests that want to use it for their own purposes.
It’s called manipulation people.