Wednesday 19 September 2012

Sam Bacile and the Innocence of Muslims

Sam, Sam, Sam, what were you thinking? Do you honestly believe any good could have possibly come out of this amateurish attempt to criticize one of the great religions of the world? Do you truly feel that going off on such an unfair and ludicrous rant about a revered prophet would do anything towards creating a peaceful dialogue in the world? On the other hand, this whole affair is a godsend for the extremists on both sides of the divide. Muslim extremists can now shout, "Death to America!" and Christian extremists can yell, "See how crazy evil they all are!?!"

In case you've been on vacation sunning yourself on some beach with Mai-tai in hand completely cut off from the rest of the world, let me fill you in on what's been happening. Sam Bacile, a pseudonym for one or more people, produced a film called "Innocence of Muslims". This supposed historical documentary about the prophet Muhammad turns out to be an insulting critique of Islam. Having watched parts of the film posted in clips on YouTube, I can report the quality of the production is poor, ludicrously poor like in B movie. On top of it, the actors in the film have reported dialogue has been dubbed. In other words, their original lines were historical in nature but the dubbed lines are inflammatory in nature. If somebody wanted to analyse Islam in a logical and well researched fashion, this isn't it. The film is unfair, biased and so base in its slurs; I just had to shake my head as to the outright stupidity of the filmmaker. It reminded me of Terry Jones; the Gainesville, Florida pastor who made headlines back in 2010 for wanting to burn the Qur'an then did burn the Qur'an in 2012. These people are just as intolerant as the Muslim extremists they are trying to criticize. These people take no responsibility for the worldwide anger now being leveled against the United States. They represent all that is bad in Christianity, the myopic, close-minded xenophobic worldview of religious fundamentalism which is the far right in America.

Various videos of the film have been posted on YouTube and spread across the globe like wildfire. Muslims everywhere are outraged to the nth degree and I'm sure somebody in the State Department is doing a facepalm. How can the "United" States present a "united" diplomatic message to the world when yahoos like Sam Basile and Terry Jones are doing their darnedest to show that Americans are narrow-minded bigots? Oh, did I mention ugly as in ugly American? Ah America the Great Satan.

Sky News said the trailer was "anti-Muslim" and "designed to enrage". According to Reuters news service the trailer portrays Muhammad as a "fool, a philanderer and a religious fake". NBC News said the trailer depicted Muhammad "as a womanizer, a homosexual and a child abuser." Muhammad's followers are portrayed as "savage killers hungry for wealth and bent on killing women and children" according to the BBC. (Wikipedia: Innocence of Muslims)

The Wikipedia article goes on:

The New Republic said that the film "includes not a single artistically redeemable aspect at all." The reviewer described the directing as "atrocious"; the sets "terrible"; the acting as consisting of "blank eyes and strained line readings". The New York Daily News called it "obscenely inept vanity project" that is "far beneath any reasonable standard of movie-making." Muslim filmmaker Kamran Pasha stated, "I am of the opinion that it is a film of questionable artistic merit, backed by a group of bitter bigots whose only agenda was to incite hatred and violence by smearing the character of Prophet Muhammad." Salman Rushdie, called the film "outrageous and unpleasant and disgusting."

Back in 2007, the BBC conducted a poll rating countries by their influence in the world, either positive or negative. (Israel, Iran top 'negative list') The poll asked 28,000 people in 27 countries to rate a dozen countries plus the EU in terms of whether they have a positive or negative influence.

The most negative country was Iran, followed closely by Israel and the United States. Imagine that the United States beat out Russia, China, and North Korea. Why? What is going on that would cause the rest of the world to look disfavourably upon the U.S.?

Extremism is all around us
Americans good, Muslims bad. Christianity good, Islam bad. Can ya get any more extreme than that? Think I'm using hyperbole to make a point?

“[Islam] is, in fact, a religion of war, violence, intolerance, and physical persecution of non-Muslims.”
–Tim Wildmon, March 6, 2012, president of the American Family Association
-as reported by the Southern Poverty Law Center

FYI: In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center accorded the AFA the designation of a hate group for its anti-gay remarks. (my blog: Dear Republicans: You ought to be ashamed of yourselves)

The far end of the spectrum
People like Sam Bacile and Terry Jones are extremists. They are not representative of the more moderate of Christianity that is what's normal. Gee, what's anybody going to think of Christianity if they based their opinion of the religion on Sam Bacile or Terry Jones? Pretty intolerant people, no?

On the other side of the great religious divide, we have people like Pamela Geller declaring that Islam is evil and seeks world domination or Pat Robertson saying that Muslims are worse than Nazis. Just because we had Osama bin Laden as the Prince of Darkness, do I now consider every Muslim to be nuts? I work with Muslims and they are very nice people. I guess if you look at the moderates of any religion, you find a normal, balanced, and rational approach to practising their religion in respect to the rest of the world. Go to the extreme end of the spectrum and you find nut jobs in any religion. Any wonder why some people fault religion itself, any religion, as the source of many of the world's ills? Let's not forget the lyrics to Imagine by John Lennon:

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

Imagine no religion. Hmmm.

Why get bent out of shape over a stupid movie?
As I said at the beginning of this article, this movie is a godsend for extremists in both camps. Muslim extremists can exploit it as a means of stirring up resentment towards the Great Satan and Christian extremists can exploit it to show all Muslims are as crazy as Osama bin Laden. Hey, it's a win-win all around, no?

What's important to you may not be important to me and what's important to me may not be important to you. Polite tolerant people respect the differences and don't deliberately insult the other party by making fun of them. That just isn't, ah, kosher. Yes, we sometimes need to be thick-skinned. Yes sometimes others inadvertently step on our toes and insult us. But let's hope cooler heads will prevail and we won't be declaring WWIII any time soon.

Sam Bacile calls Muhammad a pedophile. Terry Jones burns the Qur'an. Pamela Geller says Muslims want world domination. Pat Robertson says Muslims are worse than Nazis. Just how far do you think anybody should allow you to go before they turn around and slap you silly? Shut the f**k up for God's sake; you are doing absolutely nothing to foster a peaceful dialogue with anybody. You are stupid. You are narrow-minded. You are intolerant. And you display the worst of the worst when it comes to human nature. I hereby revoke your Christian designation (or Jewish for Geller) as you represent nothing of the love of our lord and saviour Jesus Christ. I would be ashamed to sit in the same pew with you.

Stephen Colbert
Mr. Colbert's (and Jon Stewart's) take on this was both amusing and informative. But Stephen brought up a very startling fact. He compared the age of Islam with the age of Christianity saying that Islam is sort of like a teenager in comparison to older more mature religions and aren't teenagers a little rebellious? Gee, what was Christianity like when it was fourteen hundred years old?

At this point, Colbert looks thoughtful then all of sudden stares into the camera and says, "The Dark Ages, the Spanish Inquisition, ..." referring to what was going on in Christianity when it was 1,400 years old. Of course the audience erupts in laughter but the point is made. We sit here all high and mighty condemning what's going on in the Muslim faith when we ourselves, Christianity, have been guilty of the most egregious of sins against our fellow man and woman.

Freedom of Speech
Americans pick up the newspaper and read the headlines about American embassies being stormed and wonder why. You're the promoters of free speech, even the freedom to say falsehoods, insults, and the vilest of things and you wonder why people get ticked off. Jon Stewart made mention of the Monty Python movie Life of Brian, a religious satire about Christianity, that caused a bit of a stir when it was released in 1979. From Wikipedia:

The film contains themes of religious satire that were controversial at the time of its release, drawing accusations of blasphemy and protests from some religious groups. Thirty-nine local authorities in the UK either imposed an outright ban, or imposed an X (18 years) certificate (effectively preventing the film from being shown, as the distributors said the film could not be shown unless it was unedited and carried the original AA (14) certificate). Some countries, including Ireland and Norway, banned its showing, with a few of these bans lasting decades. The filmmakers used such notoriety to benefit their marketing campaign, with posters stating "So funny it was banned in Norway!".

Some people do take their religion seriously. Very seriously.

But let's come back to this question of free speech. Should anybody be allowed to say absolutely anything they want? Is there a line one can cross where their free speech becomes unacceptable to community standards and here I am thinking what is labelled as "hate speech"? (my blog: Freedom of Speech: Freedom to say "anything"?)

Subverted Nation by Adam Austin
Mr. Austin enlightens us to the "vicious depravity" of the Jewish culture, the "Jewish threat" of world domination and how the Holocaust is a hoax.

A Voice For Men by Paul Elam
Mr. Elam is a Men's Rights Activist and explains the virulent misandry which exists in modern society and how women have subjugated men.

The Knights Party, USA - The Ku Klux Klan
Protectors of white Christianity, they fight the good fight against those who hate white Christian civilisation.

Final Word
There is a lot of hatred in the world: hatred of Muslims, Jews and Christains, hatred of women, gays, or any LGBT, hatred of other races or nations, and the list just goes on and on. Are we going to try and get along or are we headed for another earth-shaking conflict? Would another world war clear the air? Would wiping out, let's say, a hundred million lives bring us back to our senses? From Wikipedia: World War II casualties: World War II was the deadliest military conflict in history. Over 60 million people were killed, which was over 2.5% of the world population.

It was funny that the Life of Brian was banned in Norway. Well it was funny before Anders Breivik took his views so seriously he murdered 77 people. Breivik is Christian.


Wikipedia: Innocence of Muslims
Innocence of Muslims, previously called Desert Warriors and Innocence of Bin Laden, is a 2012 anti-Muslim film about Muhammad. The trailers for the film, after they were dubbed into Arabic, were cited during the attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions on September 11, 2012. One of these attacks was the storming of the United States Embassy in Cairo, Egypt. The other attacks were in Benghazi, Libya and were primarily directed at the United States consulate, which suffered at least four deaths of U.S. diplomatic personnel, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Wikipedia: 2012 U.S. diplomatic missions attacks
On September 11, 2012, the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, and U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, were attacked during protests over media excerpts of a trailer for a purported film titled Innocence of Muslims, which was considered by the attackers to be blasphemous against the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. ... In later reports, officials said that the Benghazi attack appeared to be "complex" and professionally executed, and possibly linked to pro-al Qaeda groups. U.S. officials, speaking under anonymity, said that they believed the Benghazi attack was planned in advance, and not prompted by the film. Libyan officials said that it was part of a planned two-part attack that also included a raid on a safe house.

Wikipedia: People For the American Way
People For the American Way (People For) is a progressive advocacy group in the United States.

Mission: People For the American Way is dedicated to making the promise of America real for every American: Equality. Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. The right to seek justice in a court of law. The right to cast a vote that counts. The American Way.

Vision: Our vision is a vibrantly diverse democratic society in which everyone is treated equally under the law, given the freedom and opportunity to pursue their dreams, and encouraged to participate in our nation’s civic and political life. Our America respects diversity, nurtures creativity and combats hatred and bigotry.

PFAW was founded by television producer Norman Lear (All in the Family, Maude, The Jeffersons, etc.) in 1981 specifically in response to what it felt was the divisive rhetoric of such increasingly influential televangelists as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.

People For The American Way
The Right Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism
Under the guise of defending freedom and American values, right-wing anti-Muslim activists are campaigning to prevent Muslim-Americans from freely worshiping and practicing their religion, curtail their political rights, and even compel their deportation. A growing faction in the American Right claims that Muslim-Americans, who comprise just 1% of the population, are subverting the Constitution and taking over the country. These accusations have helped to foster anti-Muslim hostility, reflected in the rise of anti-Muslim prejudice and increased attacks on Muslim-Americans and houses of worship. Tied in with hatred of President Obama, fear of religious diversity and hostility toward immigrants and gays, anti-Muslim rhetoric and paranoia has become a mainstream if not ubiquitous part of the conservative movement and the Republican Party.

my blog: Dear Republicans: You ought to be ashamed of yourselves
I am now certifying that the far right, the Tea Party and yes the Republican Party are completely nuts. This anti-gay stance is absolutely outrageous and has to be the most un-Christian thing I've seen in my life. These people with their extremist hateful views are destroying America. If anybody complains about the extremists at work elsewhere in the world, we all need to recognise that extremism is growing right here at home, an extremism which is intolerant of anything not like it.

Google video search: Innocence of Muslims

Wikiepdia: Nakoula Basseley Nakoula
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (born 1957) is an Egyptian-American Coptic Christian thought to be the writer, producer and distributor of the anti-Islamic film Innocence of Muslims. The trailers for the film, published on YouTube on July 2, 2012, after they were dubbed into Arabic, resulted in often violent protests in many countries around the world and were cited as a cause or pretext of the 2012 U.S. diplomatic missions attacks.


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