Libya and a Controversial Video

September 13, 2012

Someone, somewhere, sometimes described as an Israeli-American real estate developer from California (allegedly a “Sam Bacile”), makes a foolish decision, makes and releases a video that is insulting to members of the Muslim faith. The truth about who was behind the video has yet to be discovered. Motives are unknown, but one can only guess that whoever the producer is, he is a member of one of the many splinter groups around the world who do not wish to embrace the globalization of the world on a positive basis, seeking how we can understand and accept each other. Rather, such groups look for opportunities to exploit in the hope that they can hurt people of different faiths or can achieve some other end, or extract revenge, whether or not their target is indeed deserving of punishment.

Most Muslims will undoubtably shrug the video off as coming from someone foolish. Most will know that insensitive actions emanate from people of all faiths and nationalities, and that many of the citizens of the US no longer even regard their own country to be only Christian, but see it as also Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, Buddhist, and more. {That’s not to imply, of course, that good Christians would wish to insult the Prophet Mohammad. They would not.} Most Muslims will know that this has nothing to do with the US Government or widely held attitudes.

Somehow, allegedly, the video went viral a year after it was produced, and an uprising at the American Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, on the 11th anniversary of 911, resulted in the death of our Ambassador Chris Stevens and several others. A tragic event, especially since Stevens, a career foreign service officer, is not known to have any negative views regarding the Islamic faith or its Prophet. An innocent victim. And, anyone who knows, understands that the broad mainstream of America does not support such things as this video, do not wish to insult the Muslim faith, and that most of us want to understand that great faith better and to respect its basic beliefs.

Questions swirl: Was the uprising and the attack an angry mob’s excess, only that? Or, was it some other terrorist force (possibly allies of the late Qhaddafi), attempting to extract revenge against the US, although our intervention in Libya last year was completely a collaborative NATO initiative and was supported by countries of predominately Muslim faith?

What is the message for globalization in all this? Was globalization involved?

Globalization was involved. If not the rapidly growing interconnectedness of the world, we would not have had a consortium such as NATO to decide to overthrow Qhaddafi. If not for globalization, we might not know so much about Libya or care so much. If not for globalization, a fundamentalist preacher in Florida regarded to be supporting the film, might have turned his attention rather to the numerous atrocities inside the US, more local to his parish, such as gay marriage, inter-marriage, gambling, drinking, or whatever (too numerous to enumerate), rather than choosing to clamor over how the Islamic faith is endangering the world.

What is the message?

-Globalization will not always result in only good things, and most certainly not quickly.

– As Ed Husain (Center for Foreign Relations) explains, it’s natural for people who have lived under dictatorship for decades to hold the feeling that governments control and are responsible for the actions of their citizens, when, in fact, this is not the nature of true democracy. Husain argues that heresy and blasphemy, as offensive as they are, are an allowed part of democratic societies.

-There will always be forces which seek to use any development to justify or incite, and with the benefits of enhanced globalization, they will have more opportunity to do so. Communication, technology, and transportation advances, all part of globalization, increase the opportunities for such harmful behaviors by a wide variety of splinter groups. One thing they do seem to have in common is a desire to turn back the clock to times when some of the forces of globalization were not bringing influences which they regard to be threatening to their beliefs.

-However, let us not underestimate the potentially beneficial impact of the backlash of reactions to such acts around the world. Millions of Muslims and Christians alike are already reacting to the killing of Stevens and colleagues with denunciation of such behavior. I think this serves to some extent to galvanize the “moderates” of the world in further isolating the extremists and their behavior. That’s exactly the opposite of what the perpetrators hope for in such acts. It takes a lot to move the moderates of the world to take action. Terrorism is the weapon of extremists who represent small numbers of our world population and can only resort to such actions, being largely without resources. Little do they calculate that such actions are less likely to gain followers than to gain strength of opposition.

-Our Secretary of State described the video as essentially reprehensible, but also made clear that the US will never act to inhibit freedom of speech and expression.

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