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Current Events: Embassy Attacks & Mitt Romney

September 14, 2012

I’m going to start off with the attacks on the United States embassy and consulate, because that’s really the headline here. As you’re probably aware by now, late last Tuesday (this is local time, as far as the attacks are concerned) twelve protesters from a crowd of thousands scaled the walls of the United States embassy in Cairo, where they tore down the United States flag and raised a black one inscribed with the shahada. At ten P.M., an attack that has since come to be described as “al-Qaeda style” took place on the United States consulate in Benghazi, in which the US ambassador to Libya was killed, as were more than a dozen other diplomatic personnel.

It’s never easy to offer someone condolences on the death of a loved one. Especially in a situation like this, and with me in the position that I’m in. I’ve never had anyone come anywhere close to being in the line of fire like this, so I can’t even pretend to know what the families of the diplomats killed in these attacks are going through. But what I can say is this: These people who have been murdered so far away from home are some of the bravest people outside the military. They went to a foreign land to help an emerging democracy, and I can think of no better way to serve not only your country but all countries.

And then, Mitt Romney decided to speak up. I’m not going to lie to you, when I first heard Mr. Romney’s comments on the matter, I literally just sat there with my mouth open for a moment. Again, I’m just going to straight quote him.

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.

Now, in his defense, his statement was made after seeing a statement that the Cairo embassy released about a film (that may or may not actually exist; I’ll get to that) that the trailer makes clear is an attack on Islam. Mr. Romney’s statement is a perfectly reasonable response to the embassy’s release…if Mr. Romney were simply a man having breakfast and reading the newspaper. However, Mitt Romney is a candidate for the presidency of the United Goddamn States, and when you’re running for president, you check this shit out before you respond. As it turned out, the Cairo embassy’s statement was released six hours before the protests started.

And then there’s the matter of the alleged film, Innocence of Muslims. As it stands, there is no actual evidence that the movie actually exists. The only thing that has popped up is a fourteen minute trailer, and while the filmmaker claims that he had a five million dollar budget financed by more than 100 Jewish donors, it more closely resembles something that was, to borrow a phrase from Brad “The Cinema Snob” Jones, shot on shitteo, and it recently came out that the actual budget was sixty thousand dollars financed by the filmmaker’s family in Egypt. Oh, and that the footage shot was originally for a film titled Desert Warriors about life in Egypt two thousand years ago.

The trailer was the instigation behind the attacks. That’s established. But the way these events progressed outlines a fundamental difference in the way that things are done in the United States and how things are done in countries with primarily Muslim populations. See, in the wake of this trailer being dubbed over in Arabic and insulting an entire religion being put on the internet, there have been calls from international Muslim groups to have the video taken down, either by YouTube or by the government. But the thing that these groups don’t understand, and it really does come down to cultural differences, is that the government can’t just take something down. It’s not a right that the American government has.

It’s like with the pastor here in Florida who was planning to burn copies of the Qur’an two years ago. A lot of the reaction to that, both inside and outside the country, was negative. And yeah, there are a lot of people who wished that he wouldn’t do it. But the fact of the matter is that he didn’t actually break any laws (well, one law; he was fined $271 by Gainesville Fire Rescue for burning books without an authorization) and that what he did was within his first amendment rights, just as it’s in my first amendment rights to call him a racist shithead.

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