A Crisis made worse by Religious Nuts and Political DuncesPosted: September 12, 2012
We’re all still trying to unravel the reasons and events unfolding in Cairo and Libya. The basics point to religious fundamentalism here and abroad fueled by irrational hate that’s being cynically exploited by politicians riding religious zealotry and bigotry to headlines. We have a nexus of religions that hate and politicians that thrive on hate. It’s beyond disturbing.
First, we have a two religious extremists in the United States that produced and/or promoted a “movie” that shows a competitor religion in such an offensive light that it sets off the religious extremists in the other religion. Florida Christian whack job Terry Jones is well know for his adventures in Koran-burning.He’s been promoting a movie that vilifies Egyptian Muslims. You can see bits and pieces of it at The Atlantic and read about some of the highly offensive content.
The movie is called Innocence of Muslims, although some Egyptian media have reported its title as Mohammed Nabi al-Muslimin, or Mohammed, Prophet of the Muslims. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s because most of the few clips circulating online are dubbed in Arabic. The above clip, which is allegedly from the film (update: Kurt Werthmuller, a Coptic specialist at the Hudson Institute, says he’s confirmed the clip’s authenticity) is one of the only in English.* That’s also because it’s associated with Florida Pastor Terry Jones (yes, the asshole who burnt the Koran despite Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ pleas) and two Egyptians living in the U.S., according to Egyptian press accounts.* The Egyptians are allegedly Coptic, the Christian minority that makes up about a tenth of Egypt.
Obviously, there’s a lot to this story that’s still unclear. What we do know is that some members of Egypt’s sometimes-raucous, often rumor-heavy media have been playing highly offensive clips from the highly offensive film, stressing its U.S. and Coptic connections. In the clip below, controversial TV host Sheikh Khaled Abdallah (known for such statements as “Iran is more dangerous to us than the Jews” and that Tehran had engineered a deadly soccer riot in Port Said) hypes the film as an American-Coptic plot and introduces what he says is its opening scene.
As the fervor has built, both the Coptic Church and the U.S. embassy to Egypt issued formal condemnations of the film. The latter, made just this morning, began, “The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.” The statement also noted the September 11 anniversary, adding, “Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy.”
I won’t print the descriptions of some of the most offensive things, you can go read it at the link. This is what set off the riots at the Cairo Embassy and has now led to the death of a US ambassador and 3 other diplomats in Libya.
Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, was killed along with three of his staff members in a fiery and furious attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi on Tuesday night by an armed mob angry over a short American-made video mocking Islam’s founding prophet, the White House and Libyan officials said on Wednesday.
President Obama strongly condemned the killings and ordered increased security at American diplomatic posts around the world. American defense officials said 50 Marines were en route to Libya to strengthen security at United States diplomatic facilities.
The death of Ambassador Stevens was the first of an American envoy abroad in more than two decades.
“These four Americans stood up for freedom and human dignity,” Mr. Obama said in a televised statement from the White House Rose Garden where he stood side-by-side with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. “Make no mistake: we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.”
Mr. Obama also offered praise for the Libyan government, noting that Libyan security forces fought back against the mob, helped protect American diplomats and took Mr. Stevens’s body to the hospital. “This attack will not break the bonds between the United States and Libya,” he said.
Enter the right wing kooks and we now see how extremely offensive and extremely connected to religious extremists that some of our own politicians can be. We’re seeing this from two sources of extremely unhelpful people. The first is Netanyahu who is under increasing criticism from the opposition in Israel for “wagging the dog” and being more interested in ‘regime change’ in the US than in Iran. (“Who are you trying to replace?” Shaul Mofaz asked Bibi Netanyahu. “The Administration in Washington or in Tehran?”) Netanyahu has invented a snub by Obama out of whole cloth and seems to be pressing the case for Romney who has pretty much guaranteed he’d join in a war against Iran and who knows else in the Middle east.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the White House had declined the Israeli government’s request for a meeting on the sidelines of a U.N. confab later this month in New York City. The White House cited a scheduling problem, but denied reports that they had refused to meet with Netanyahu in New York.
“Contrary to reports in the press, there was never a request for Prime Minister Netanyahu to meet with President Obama in Washington, nor was a request for a meeting ever denied,” the White House said.
The US and Israeli right wing press has gone crazy-go-nuts over another complete fabrication about Obama’s love of Muslim countries and distaste for poor little Israel and its leader’s lust for all out war in the middle east. Read this analysis of NeoCon Benjamin Netanyahu at The New Yorker.
In his first term as Prime Minister, in the nineties, Netanyahu used to behave in such a high-handed way with White House officials that Bill Clinton left meetings with him bewildered and bemused, wondering who, in their relationship, was the leader of a superpower. But Netanyahu’s arrogance, in the guise of Churchillian prescience, has hardly receded over the years. Obama, in an attempt to cool the latest crisis, called Netanyahu last night and spent an hour talking with him.
Adding to the outrage is the fact that Netanyahu is performing not just for his allies on the Israeli right but for those he perceives as his allies on the American right, including those in the Jewish community. His performance is in the same neocon voice as the one adopted by the Romney campaign and in its opportunistic reaction to the attacks on the U.S. diplomatic outposts in Cairo and Benghazi, which left our Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other consular employees dead. Unbelievably, the Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus, took to Twitter and wrote, “Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic.” Romney himself accused Obama of sympathizing with the attackers in Libya.
The neocon strategy, in both Israel and the U.S., is to paint Obama as naïve in the extreme. In this, Netanyahu and Romney are united—and profoundly cynical.
Meanwhile, enter our Republican whack jobs and the completely feckless and worthless bubble boy, Netanyahu fan boi, Mitt Romney. How can one person have so much money and be so clueless about so many things? This analysis is by Josh Marshall at TPM.
As noted, we have two simultaneous crises washing over Washington tonight from the Middle East. First, the US-Israel blow up, which I discussed below. Next, riots which escalated into full-scale attacks on US embassies in Cairo and Benghazi, triggered by another stunt by Quran-burning ‘pastor’ Terry Jones down in Florida.
A State Department officer was actually killed in the attack on the compound in Benghazi.
In the midst of this, the Romney campaign put out this statement …
“I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”So Romney jumps to politicize a genuine crisis in which a Foreign Service Officer has been killed. And the attack itself is based on a falsehood. The reference is to a statement released by the Embassy in Egypt which in fact came out before the attacks took place. The entire thing is based on a lie. Here’s our full story.
In a statement Tuesday night, Mitt Romney accused the Obama administration of sympathizing with the Libyan protesters who attacked a consulate in Benghazi, killing the U.S. ambassador and three other American diplomats.
“I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi,” Romney said. “It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”
Romney’s remarks came before the White House confirmed Wednesday morning that U.S. ambassador to Libya, John Christopher Stevens, was among those killed in the Benghazi attack.
Romney foreign policy adviser Rich Williamson told Foreign Policy magazine Tuesday evening, before the deaths were reported, that the attacks were related to Obama’s “failure to be an effective leader for U.S. interests in the Middle East.”
Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt responded a few hours later that it was Romney who was out of line. “We are shocked that, at a time when the United States of America is confronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya, Governor Romney would choose to launch a political attack,” he said
I guess Romney doesn’t consider SOS Hillary Clinton to be a part of the Obama administration or something. This is the next paragraph in the WAPO article cited above.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the attack “in the strongest terms,” adding that while the United States “deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others … there is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.” Wednesday morning, Obama released his own statement condemning “the outrageous attack.”
On the longer-term temperamental politics, this is a very vivid example of what people mean when they talk about “the 3 a.m. phone call.” In these next few hours let us look very carefully at the first-reaction quick responses, and then the considered second-take positions, by the two candidates.* One or the other of them will be in charge of U.S. response to similar inevitable-surprise episodes in the next four years.
His article also reviews some of the various media responses to Romney’s stupid comments. This one is on the Fox Propaganda Network.
Have just seen Jeffrey Goldberg’s report on an immediate response from the Romney camp. That is revealing and not encouraging. On the other hand, I am watching Fox & Friends right now to see how they are presenting things. They’ve just finished with a foreign-policy expert who urged Romney to stand down for a day or so. She says, “I am a hawk, but this is not the time to politicize the issue.”
Update-update. Here is the New York Times report on the Romney response Jeff Goldberg is referring to. Read this carefully. It is a “midnight phone call” rather than 3 am, but this tells me something:
Bracing for trouble before the start of the protests here and in Libya, the American Embassy released a statement shortly after noon that appeared to refer to Mr. Jones [the idiotic Koran-burning "pastor" Terry Jones]: “The United States Embassy in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.” It later denounced the “unjustified breach of our embassy.”
Apparently unaware of the timing of the first embassy statement, the Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, put out a statement just before midnight Tuesday saying, “It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.” Mr. Romney also said he was “outraged” at the attacks on the embassy and consulate.
I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about all of this for some time. I know two things. I’m rooting for the Israeli Opposition and our State Department. The last thing we need is for a bunch of lying war thumping neocons to start pushing lies again and drag us into the Religious Fantastic’s wet dream of the so-called ‘end times’. Pray that the cooler minds prevail and the others STFU. The last thing we need is shameless exploitation of religious bigotry by folks whose voting base is filled with folks who would like to rid the world of all religions but their own.