The idea that a months-old anti-Islam video of dubious and confused provenance, amateur and plodding in its execution, a mere 14 or 15 minutes long and available only on Youtube, was the prime mover behind the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya is and was always farcical. The further idea that it was the catalytic trigger for the riots that mushroomed around the Islamic world on the days after the 11th anniversary of 9/11 is even more farcical.
Yet from the very beginning the Obama White House has been furiously insisting that “it’s the video.” Everyone from the president to his secretary of state to UN ambassador Susan Rice, have gone over the top in condemning the video in the hardest language possible for them.
Ms. Rice in particular went to the extreme of appearing on five Sunday morning news shows to claim that it was the video and nothing else. They all proclaimed the video was “insulting,” that it was “reprehensible.” Mr. Obama, in his UN speech this week, gave several paragraphs over to the video. It was both “crude and insulting.” He went even further: “(the video) was an insult to our common humanity.”
Really, an “insult to our common humanity?” Syria right now might qualify for that phrase. Some events in Africa, maybe. But this insignificant Youtube video? The excess of the rhetoric is the first key to its falsity.
There are real problems associated with making this video the precipitating “cause” of all the unrest we have seen, to placing it at the centre of events that saw the U.S. consulate in Benghazi attacked in force, with the U.S. ambassador and three others killed.
The first, and I have to believe the principal one, is that it is not true. An attack on a consulate on the anniversary of 9/11, in the year in which the U.S. president has not been shy about bragging that “Osama is dead,” surely has nearer causes than some basement video by an obscure individual.
The video, however, has functioned as a kind of 21st century version the age-old “border incident.” Previous to now, warring nations would stage outrages on the others’ territories, wearing enemy uniforms to manufacture an “incident.” It’s easier now — point to some esoteric item on the Internet and proclaim the prophet is being mocked. Riots follow as to a Pavlovian bell. And apologies from the high authorities in the West with equal celerity.
Secondly, I have not heard such urgent and unctuous concerns being expressed about the honour of religion, the need to respect it and its believers of every faith, and the importance of religion to all, since Holy Week in my own Catholic boyhood so many turns of the moon ago. All that was missing in some of Hillary’s statements was someone walking alongside swinging the aromatic censer.
There is no emphatic “respect for religion” in the United States of today. That stream of apology and denunciation based on “respect for religion” is so far bent from reality it is close to being an active lie. The mockery of every traditional religion, the outrages sometimes perpetrated against them in “art-installations” or movies or books is part of the normal practice of American artistic and entertainment enterprise. Mainstream beliefs are ridiculed with insolence and frequency and no one, save of course the much put upon “true believers,” either registers the offence or offers apology.
I have yet to hear on a single occasion anything like the fevered cascade of denunciation that has been visited on the Innocence of Muslims on any other item or act that has delivered offence to Christians and their practice, or any other religion. It’s Islam they apologize to and no other faith. Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama would be more truthful in their declarations if they said that they have “respect” for Muslim sensibilities and condemn films that mock Muhammad, but that’s where such respect stops.
Finally, the U.S. has no business apologizing for a video it had nothing to do with. Apologizing for it only “validates” the lie that the video was the cause of killings and riots. It implies a connection between the authority apologizing and the video, which does not exist. And the apology even as it is being made is false: It is impossible to apologize for what you did not do.
All in all the Obama administration’s response to Benghazi and linked events has been confused, wrong and disingenuous.
Article by Rex Murphy