Why Hasn't West Responded to Beheading Videos as Some Muslims Do to Anti-Islamist Videos?
U.S. policies toward the Middle East were more of a factor in protests against "Innocence of Muslims" than insults to religion.
It's tough to deny that Denis Hamill (younger brother of Peter) makes a good point in his September New York Daily News column titled Radical Islamic terror 'flicks' insult humanity far more deeply than an idiot film about Muslims by a felonious con man. He's referring, of course, to the video Innocence of Muslims that's poured gasoline on fire in the Muslim world.
Suppose New Yorkers decided to retaliate and storm all their diplomatic outposts, killing ambassadors and other innocents because we were outraged by an Islamist film that we found offensive? … And, believe me, we have lots more than one dopey fictional film to be offended by.
Go online and you’ll find authentic real-life footage detailing radical Islamist atrocities that any rational person would find far more blasphemous to the human spirit than anything in the YouTube trailer that has set the Muslim world ablaze.
Start with these … videos:
1) The beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl on an Al Qaeda website, perhaps one of the most evil videos ever shot.
2) American hostage Eugene Armstrong being beheaded in Iraq.
3) Hooded terrorists killing Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.
4) The second plane smashing into the South Tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
5) Human beings leaping to their doom from the Trade Center.
6) The collapse of the twin towers as people are obliterated inside.
7) A woman being stoned to death for adultery in Saudi Arabia.
8) The bodies of four U.S. contractors hanging from a bridge above the Euphrates River in Fallujah, Iraq.
Earlier in the piece he said:
I’m having a hard time believing that Islamic extremists from more than 20 countries actually hold 300 million Americans responsible for a single amateur film, an incoherent anti-Islamic screed made by a convicted felon on parole for credit-card scams.
Okay, maybe one or two offended people could be that dumb. But no way could tens of thousands of folks in 20 countries believe the same line of nonsense that this film is representative of the entire American people.
It's tough to deny that, as a progressive, it's difficult to explain the response of many Muslims. But those protesting may be under the impression that the video was the trailer for a mainstream film allowed to be distributed to movie theaters in the United States, as Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ was.
At al Jazeera, quoted at Race for Iran, Flynt Leverett provides a likely explanation.
If it hadn’t been this film, it would have been something else that triggered an outburst—a manifestation of very, very deep-seated, longstanding resentment in Arab and Muslim societies about many important aspects of American foreign policy toward the region. When Americans think about this, they will tend to want to say that this a cultural issue—that there is something about Islam or that Arabs are insufficiently modernized to be able to keep something like this film in proper perspective. I think that it’s Americans who are having a cultural problem here, and who aren’t really able to keep things like this film in proper perspective. The proper perspective, at least from the vantage of the Muslim world, is that the United States has been, for many years now, an aggressive and a repressive force in the region.”
Also, it must be recalled that it probably wasn't Innocence of Muslims per se that elicited the most violent responses, but extreme Islamists using it to stoke reaction to the film for their own purposes. As Christian Science Monitor reported yesterday (September 23), "news reports have suggested that there was no video-related anti-US protest before the armed attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the three other men."
Cross-posted from the Foreign Policy in Focus blog Focal Points.