Thursday, September 13, 2012
The Muddy Thaw of the Arab Spring
By Jarad Van Wagoner
Following the attacks by Islamic militants on US Embassy in Egypt and the US Consulate in Libya, many have put the blame on the producers of an anti-Islamic film. In fact, the initial reaction of the US Embassy in Egypt to the violent attacks was to condemn the act of being insensitive to Islam. This reaction was short sighted for two primary reasons: 1) it’s very naïve to assume that this minor film was the cause of coordinated violent attacks against US facilities in Islamic countries on the eleventh anniversary of the September 11th attacks; and 2) choosing to condemn the expression of free speech, however despicable the speech may have been, rather than plainly condemning the violent acts is wrong and puts political correctness on a level above the right of free speech.
Today many in the mainstream media continue to ask the questions, “What prompted these attacks? What did we do to instigate them?” This continuing stream of public self-flagellation for our values when people commit unspeakable acts of terror and violence damages and weakens our position internationally.
In response to the claims that this was caused by the anti-Islamic film I want to make a few points and then move beyond this issue. I haven’t seen this film, so I don’t know to what degree it mocks people or issues sacred to Islam. Also, I am not Islamic so I don’t understand the level of offense given by this film. Whatever the intent of the film and the sensitivities it calls forth, mocking a religion doesn’t contribute to the dialogue in a meaningful way, even when engaging with those who may be your enemies. At the same time, a physically violent reaction to a non-threatening offense is wrong and must be labeled as such. To make any allowance for violence in such a situation is morally wrong and contributes to the problem.
What many in our government and media fail, or are refusing, to realize is that this film is a red herring, a tool used by radical Islamic leaders to stir up the dissatisfied masses in the Muslim world. This film was a convenient provocation to fire up the uneducated poor to be used as tools in a politically charged terrorist act on a historically significant day—the day that represents the height of Islamic terror against the United States. At this point I’m not sure what message the leaders of the mobs was trying to get across, but here are a couple of messages that seem loud and clear.
- The facilities of the United States in the region are or were vulnerable, vulnerable on a day when common sense dictated that security measures should have been increased.
- The Muslim Brotherhood and their various counterparts consider themselves strong enough to attack our sovereign territory directly. They know that their new governments, controlled by forces friendly to their causes (and in many cases full blown supporters of their causes), will not impede their efforts or punish them in a serious manner.
- The initial responses of the government of the United States, from the condemnation of free speech, the delayed condemnation of the attacks, and the fact that the president attacked his political opponent before condemning the attacks, makes it clear that give his druthers our president would prefer to apologize when attacked by Islamic radicals.
Basically, at this point the terrorists have successfully highlighted our weakness through our vulnerability and our response. My personal guess is that their goal, at least in part, is to show that they are now politically in control of Egypt and Libya—to make it clear that democracy and freedom did not come off as the result of the Arab Spring.
So, what’s next? Will the violent mobs continue to attack the United States and its interests in the region? Are they hoping that the current administration will continue to apologize and compromise rather than stand up for American values and interests? Will so many in the western media continue to justify the violence at the expense of God given rights and American values? Is this a move to consolidate their strength and power before the current administration is replaced by a president that hasn’t indicated that he would “stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction?”
Will the American people side with a president who has set aside the values and interests of a nation? Or, will they side with the candidate who recognizes the strength of American values, the importance of American leadership, and the absolute necessity of national security in the face of threats seen and unseen?