i find that one of the most frustrating things about reading the news on the internet is the comments section. time and again i tell myself "oh, if i read the comments section i'm just going to get upset" but i usually do it anyways, clinging to some shred of hope that i may find someone else's opinion enlightening. and this does happen, about 1 out of every 30 comments i read is interesting and noteworthy. mostly, though, they just make me want to tear my hair out, or never talk to anyone ever again.
ironic, isn't it, that i'm about to post a mouthful of my own opinions? which i am.
i have had it up to here with people talking about the protests against the U. S. government in Egypt and Libya. admittedly, i haven't been following the stories as closely as i should have, but there are several things i have heard about wayyy too much considering how little i've actually been focusing on the issue.
1) the protests are ONLY about a movie/14 min preview of a movie on YouTube.
i suppose this is the crux of it for most people. somebody made a movie where the prophet Muhammad is portrayed as a child molester/rapist/terrible person and the Muslim community is up in arms about the whole thing, so they have suddenly used this as an excuse to attack the US embassy (Libya) and riot (Egypt).
now, i know we all have laptops and tablets and catch YouTube trends like influenza, but this is not the case everywhere in the world. no matter how "global" technology claims to be, the fact of the matter is not everyone is linked in to YouTube. not everybody has internet. most of these protesters probably haven't seen the clip. these protests are about our country's less than stellar foreign policy record with the people of these nations. they live in unstable nations with recently changed governments, nations that still have a lot of dissenters (openly and otherwise) and haven't figured out how to maintain a stable environment. healing nations-and hurting nations. nations that don't have bright futures their people can easily see. nations that have barely understood the U.S. involvement in their past, present, and future.
i've heard it reported that the tragic attack on the Libyan embassy was actually planned as a 9/11 retaliation (as it did happen on 9/11, did it not?) and actually has NOTHING to do with the movie at all.
2) the man who made the movie was just exercising his 1st Amendment rights.
this one is, admittedly, a bit stickier. he does have the right to the freedom of speech, it's true. yes, people have made movies about Christianity that were also offensive. on the surface, it seems defensible. and in a way, it is.
but you can't honestly expect people to understand this 1st amendment business all over the world. and once that movie clip hit the internet, it belonged to the world. and it was seen as American. through and through. does that mean all video content needs to be censored? no. maybe? what i am (clumsily) trying to say is that these people live in countries where they have much less personal freedom than we, as Americans, enjoy. they don't quite see the same separation between citizen and government that we do. they see the movie as a tool of the american government, or at the very least sanctioned by them. and its not a great thing for an already poorly represented US government to be associated with in the eyes of the Muslim community.
this man knew what he was doing was wrong. reportedly he even dubbed over actor's lines and lied about the script of the movie to the people in it. is he free to think these things? yes. is he free to say them in the united states of America? yes. is he free to post them on the internet for the entire world to see regardless of the consequences? one would hope not. additionally, if he really did dub over some of the actor's lines, i'm pretty sure it's still illegal to portray other people as saying things they never actually said, without their consent. even in movies.
3) this anger at the US government is their problem, not ours.
the few comments i have read have not come outright to say this, but they definitely take that sort of tone. "they hate our freedom" as i'm sure we all have heard. i'm not sure it's our freedom they hate. maybe it's the fact that we openly interfere in their regions affairs for political and financial gain. repeatedly. maybe it's the fact that their relatives who live here face open discrimination and hate. maybe its the fact that the U.S. government still has a detention camp in Cuba where the global community knows there has been torture of the detainees (their families, their heroes in some cases) and the U.S. government was hardly held accountable. is it that we helped get rid of Qaddafi but have not interfered in Syria, where the death toll is still. STILL. STILL rising. the civilian death toll. the bombed kindergarten child death toll.
right now Americans are awfully focused on the economy, and for obvious and good reasons. but there are some other problems we have. and if we don't stop our fast and loose foreign policy where we only move when we can clearly see what's in it for us, our international reputation is going to continue to fall. and, as citizens, we will all be part of the group who did nothing to stop it.
we're not just able to vote for President. we can vote for senators, representatives, and local officials. and we can get in contact with these officials. we can let them know that we're unhappy with what they're doing. maybe money talks a lot louder than we do, but we have to say something. we can protest too.
we can know that after the protests and riots against the US government, there were counter-protests by people our government has helped. what are we protesting about? we are legally allowed to protest (peacefully) in this country. the economy? no longer. where are the U.S. protests over China and Russia repeatedly veto-ing UN interference in Syria because of their ties with the regime? that would speak volumes for the opinions of the average US citizen.
we can know that there's not just one kind of Muslim, just like there's not just one kind of Christian. and right now most Americans only understand the link between Islam and terrorism, not the links between Islam and peace. religion has been a banner for all kinds of atrocities throughout history. would the Crusaders have had suicide bombers? maybe.
what are we saying about the upheaval in Egypt and Libya?
what are our reactions saying about us?