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September 13, 2012

Before We Start Ascribing Bad Intent to Whole Countries, Regions and Cultures…




Before ascribing bad intent to whole countries, regions and cultures (or wielding apology like a sword), I think — before more primitive or sensational tendencies kick in — it’s important to take a good look at these Benghazi “man in the street” photos. (Larger edit here).

Most of the actions in play — between the creation of the im-Bacile Muhammed video; the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya and the killing of the ambassador; and the chest-and-drum beating for war on the part of the Israeli Prime Minister — are not generalized or mainstream or representative of good people so much as they are the behavior of radicals and extremists. To remember and to emphasize the distinction is as much a matter of  sanity as one of honesty and clarity.

That said, it is only fair to point out that the photos come courtesy of Al Hurrah’s Facebook page, that being the Arabic TV network funded by the U.S. government.  Of course, with so many of the signs written in English, with some carrying the same phrases (with the same misspellings), I’d be curious to know more about how this demonstration came together. Still, I’m willing to accept that the instinct here — especially in light of the role the U.S. played in liberating the country (especially the East) from Gaddafi, as well as the nature of Christopher Stevens — is genuine.


I thought the fact most of the signs misspelled prophet as “profit” was ironic, by the way, as in: we have nothing to gain from this.

Update: If I happened to infer more of a connection between these demonstrations and Al Hurrah, I should point out that Al Jazeera also features several of these images in their own crisis slideshow.

(h/t: @ghostcatbce)

(photos via Libya Alhurra Livestream/Facebook via Buzzfeed)

  • LanceThruster

    These are not the barbarians the haters speak of. Their condolences are very touching. And despite what the Mitt-wit R-money says, I apologize for those ills and outrages we have subjected (and continue to subject) Arabs and Muslims to.

    I am an and atheist and feel anyone’s deity and assorted beliefs is fair game, but considering the abuse heaped upon Muslims wholesale, would take that into account before making the philosphical argument that their god or holy figures or sacred texts should be so publically ridiculed.

    Xians murdered heretics back in the day so they have no moral highground as far as I’m concerned.

  • Cactus

    As an atheist, I don’t have a dog in this fight. Which
    perhaps leaves me free to say the problem is NOT Muslims or Christians or Jews,
    three religions with one background. The problem is fundamentalists of all
    three. But I do wonder just how organized this ‘event’ was. The faces of most
    of the people are almost expressionless. On the site with all the photos, a
    couple of them were actually printed professionally.

  • Mickey

    Actually, “thugs and killers” are precisely what “represents Islam” at the current moment. It might not be an accurate representation of all Islam, but it is the one that leads. One sign by one well intentioned woman simply isn’t enough to provide a counterweight to the radical, violent simpletons who seem to always make it to the front page. If the Arab world is uncomfortable with how they are represented, they need to change. Plain and simple.

    Violence leads to more violence. Sad…

    • LanceThruster

      Why the violent are seen as representing Islam in toto is because in all the US news reports, the phrase “the death of four Americans” is heard incessantly, but hardly a peep about the ten (10) Libyans that died trying to defend the consulate.

      I think the majority of the US prison population is xian. Shall they represent all/most xians? The Christian Enlightenment had a head start on any similar movement within Islam. I would think the current demonization of Islam would hinder reform, whereas affording them the same rights as anyone to believe what they want while condemning _actions_ that are regressive would go far in allowing adherents to reform from within rather than having all Muslims circle the wagons against an aggressive onslaught from outsiders.

      Their numbers are large and I see no benefit of making the focus of any interaction, your religion is violent and stupid, however I feel about anyone’s religion.

      With my Muslim co-worker, we chat about how to bring about justice in Palestine as Israel (and the majority adherents in charge there) continue to bully, brutalize and kill there. One day soon we’re going to do it over a beer, but I promised to keep that on the down low.

  • Vincent Van Gogh

    Assume nothing, question everything.

  • Cactus

    Nothing is ever as simple as it seems. Ever. I would
    encourage all to read an article by Juan Cole, putting this whole mess into some

    The title is deceptive but it’s an informative article.

    After Obama was elected, the losers were outraged and became
    the tea party, screaming and hollering and generally causing mayhem. The day
    the events started in Libya was the day the Muslim Brotherhood lost the
    election. About 100 miles from Benghazi is a town that is a stronghold of the
    Brotherhood. Some believe that is where some of the rioters came from and
    brought the hi-tech weaponry, such as it was. Losers get angry and everybody
    wants their 15 minutes of fame. So, just take a breath.

    • Michael Shaw

      Juan Cole has more than kept me sane the last couple of days.

  • Catherine McCallum

    The question that keeps leaping to my mind is this: Why does free speech preclude American apologies for bad – and even dangerous – behavior?

    Another question: Why must Muslims apologize while Americans can’t/won’t/don’t?

  • GeorgeMokray

    The world has been played by the, evidently, Coptic Christian extremists who made the film demeaning Islam and by the Islamic extremists who ginned up the reaction against it. A match made in Heaven to send all but their own particular brand of True Believers to Hell. All flavors or religious extremists have the same interests and ordinary people are caught in their fanatical acting out.

    Wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the people who made the film and the people in at least one of the countries where Western embassies have been attacked were communicating with each other. Not saying it happened. Just saying such cynical collusion wouldn’t surprise me.

  • Mike

    We Are Americans And better than this”"”"”"”"” Look at all the stereotypes ””Germans vs Jews, Americans vs Japanese, Native Americans (Savages vs Europeans) Blacks vs Whites, Women vs Men, Polioks vs Europeans, Irish prejudice, several million jews cooked in ovens in the name of superiority. Now its Islam, Look People, Its time to look at ourselves. Please tweet this….to other fellow humans on this earth!

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