One joke on the rounds in the blogosphere has the maker of the blasphemous movie about Muhammed being someone named "Bacile," one letter off from allowing speculation that his middle initial is "M." The story coming out is that a bunch of actors were hired to memorize one script; that it was shot, and that, unbeknownst to the players, quite different dialogue was dubbed into the mouths of the thespians, such that many insulting and offensive utterances came from the mouths of the Prophet and the other figures.
It is offensive enough that someone would be shown as the Prophet himself in the first place. When an Islamic filmmaker wanted to produce a movie about the life of the 8th century religious figure, hiring Anthony Quinn to play Hamza, Muhammed was never shown, the director of The Message having his players look directly into the camera when addressing the Prophet. It did not work well, but the Qu'ran forbids images and idols depicting their spiritual father, much less Allah. Ironically, no Hollywood studio would finance the Quinn movie; funding finally was provided by Libya's Muammar al-Gaddafi.
What is forgotten is the storm of protest that met the Danish cartoonist who similarly blasphemed. One cartoon depicted the Prophet with a bomb in his turban. The Danish flag was burned in many Mideastern venues. Fatwahs were uttered against the caricaturist, who for a while, Rushdie-like, went incognito. Danish embassies were protested, albeit sans the Molotov cocktails and murder of embassy employees occurring in Benghazi. (Apparently, B&W artwork no longer has the power to enrage as does color video on YouTube. I found the video unwatchable in any case. It was not its offensiveness that turneed me off so much as the ineptitude of its makers.)
Unfortunately, the earliest rumors about the creators had them being -- what else? -- Jewish. This probably guaranteed the next few nights' continued protest, but neither did it help when it came out that the filmmakers were Coptic Christians from elsewhere, the evangelicals' Rapture deathwish came just a bit closer to happening, which comports with my theory they're doing all they can to make their version of "prophecy" a self-fulfilling one.
If we recoil in horror at the incredible anger of the protesters, the "fanaticism" displayed to the world, are we really so naive as to think that had Muslims in one of those countries done similar things with the figure of Jesus, their embassies would not be under attack in this country? Think of the silly pastor in Florida, or of the hate-filled signs held by members of the Westboro Baptist Church, the Rev. Phred Phelps doing all he can to foment violence against everyone from gays to our troops in places like Afghanistan.
And while it is fortunate that the leaders of the three countries where the anti-American violence occurred rushed to assure us that the majority of citizens and the governments of those nations are not similarly fanatical, one suspects they're only being nice so that the Ron Paul types on this side won't start calling for cuts in foreign aid. Make no mistake, however, when we watch in disbelief at what is happening abroad, we should not for a moment assume that things like that could never happen here.
Oh, no. Not with fanatics like Tony Perkins, John Hagee, Pat Robertson, &c. &c. &c. daily sprewing venom against the sexual minorities, women, liberals, and especially atheists, it should be clear that if we do not keep our local version of Shariah out of our discourse and, more importantly, out of our political decision making, there but for the grade of godlessness go I....I am not so great a conspiracy theorist to believe that the nation is in grave danger of turning into a theocracy: after all, the Republicans could have nominated Santorum, Bachmann, or the newly minted Catholic fanatic, Newt Gingrich. (Not that Romney is not bad enough.) But the incidents in North Africa should serve as a reminder to all just what awaits us should we head in that direction. Theocracy is inimical to democracy and we dare not forget it.
I think it is tragic that YouTube is taking it down. There is freedom of speech. If the jihadist Muslims want to protest, fine, but we should remember our 1st Amendment.
How is that infringing on their freedom of speech? The government didn't take it down.
The theocrats are already showing their hand, and if the torture isn't physical at this point, it is psychological. Consider all of the violations of women's rights: laws requiring trans-vaginal probes and sonogram photos of fetuses, &c., or not-yet laws for "reparative therapy" designed to turn gays into heterosexuals by behavior therapy. Surely no one seriously believes that all these things will become federal law if the Christian evangelicals establish a theocracy in America. And that is just scratching the surface.
The sad thing, really, is that they know nothing about science at all. When a House committee on science was polled on some women's issues lately, the evangelicatholics on the mostly-GOP committee admitted as much. The frigging SCIENCE committee! No wonder we cannot compete with many nations in the areas of knowledge most important to the advancement of civilization, including trade.
As someone who just spent some time in Afghanistan and Kuwait and Qatar, the image of simply brutish, animalistic religious fanatics is quite off. There needs to be the perspective of the historical America that has been influencing their lives for so long; a country with a culture that starkly contrasts the values that Islam holds, that has been actively shaping their politics for decades, and has been waging war in their part of the world for just as long.. I think that the extremism seen recently isn't a result of their religion but the frustration that they have with the influence of America in the middle east for so long.
We can't change them. Sam Harris tried but he only put it in a footnote: the 72 virgins the jihadists expect to find in Paradise will turn out to be 72 raisins or grapes, caused by a mistranslation of the Koran. (Others point out that their holy book is a pastiche with a few original ideas and a lot borrowed from Judaism and...guess what? Christianity.) About the only book to establish a religion more bogus than the Koran is the Book of Mormon.