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Is Islamist unrest really about free speech with drone strikes as trigger?

Sand dunes in the Sahara in Libya. (Photo: CIA World Fact Book)

The official government-media complex excuse for unrest and embassy attacks in North Africa and West Asia is that an obscure film insulting the Muslims’ prophet caused all the violence and unrest.

That reasoning exempts drone strikes that led to unrest as well as free speech. 

The US Report viewed part of the film—it was impossible to stay with it for more than a few minutes—before that particular video was removed from YouTube. The version we viewed was in English; approximately 350 views were tallied but that was before that official-government media complex provided the kind of advertising you can’t buy, creating a market for the film far beyond its original potential.

Lack of anticipation as a key anniversary approached

September 11 isn’t just a significant date to Americans. Here we mourn the 2001 attacks that killed more than 3,000 innocent people. In areas around the world where fundamentalist Muslims live, it’s a date for celebrating injury inflicted on a long time enemy.

September 11, 2012 was different than anniversaries in other years.

The latest anniversary followed a media blitz of attention to the killing of master terrorist Osama bin Laden in May, 2011. Campaign speeches by the president and vice president, a pending film made with government cooperation and a video at the Democrats' national convention touted the killing of bin Laden.

There was also a drone strike, however, that helped fuel the violence. On September 4, Russia Today reported reactions to a drone strike that killed 13 civilians, quoting a man described as an “activist”:

"I would not be surprised if a hundred tribesmen joined the lines of al Qaeda as a result of the latest drone mistake," Nasr Abdullah, a local activist, adds to CNN. "This part of Yemen takes revenge very seriously."

Various media are claiming the administration of President Barack Obama was warned about potential attacks ahead of the protests in Egypt. Those claims amount to allegations at present.

The drone strike in Yemen coupled with marking anniversary of September 11 provided ample fuel. It takes very little to stir up a crowd in areas where there is limited access to news—just as in pre-Internet times in the U.S., these people get only one version of news.

In countries where lack of jobs and Islamist education accompany poor economies, it is easy to blame a superpower when you are a tyrant lining your own pockets without attempting to maintain a stable and just government.

Democrats continue to push the killing of bin Laden as a campaign theme.

German expert doubts Obama foreign policy

The German news site Spiegel featured a roundup of commentary by experts. The site tags the commentary with the political slant of the expert. Here’s what a left of center expert said:

"Four years ago, Obama pledged to seek reconciliation with the Muslim world. Now, it is doubtful whether he has succeeded. The US and its European allies now have to ask themselves how much support they still enjoy in the countries of the Arab Spring."

Obama’s first error was lack of anticipation. The second was his response to the initial attacks, apologizing for insults to Islam. Obama said nothing about freedom of speech, losing a prime teaching moment and an opportunity to display strength.

Underlying issue: U.S. First Amendment

Red State reported what the president of Egypt wants:

“In another statement, Mursi said he expects “assurances from the U.S. government to prevent any infringement on the sacred.”

That statement is key to these protests. Islamists and some mainstream Muslim majority countries as well have long sought limitations on freedom of speech relating to their faith. Canada and the United Kingdom have some restrictions; the U.S. has less.

This goal has been aided and abetted by the United Nations.

The UN Human Rights Council has made it a point to come to terms over what Muslim countries view as defamation of religion. Of course there is no legitimate way to do that in the United States because of limits on government control of speech in the First Amendment.

Blaming an obscure filmmaker is a weak attempt to defend an administration whose foreign policy creds are seriously damaged by what Americans are witnessing as a result of the much hyped “Arab Spring.” That label is no more than a means of promoting an idea that can only work on paper when it comes to freedom as we know it. The Obama administration basically helped fragment North Africa and now we are witnessing the product of that unnecessary intervention.

Obama failed to fully understand the adversary. Obama has muddled answers on matters like the initial attacks as well as whether Egypt is an ally. The president has been focused on the campaign trail.

Blaming Romney as defense for Obama

The government-media complex actually attacked GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney for criticizing Obama’s policy. To Americans, however, who understand that the key to all freedom would be lost if the First Amendment were breached, Romney’s words were timely and necessary.

News about the protests has been carefully controlled, with reporters in Jacksonville discussing how to phrase a question for Romney at a presser. Some media have claimed this is standard procedure. Based on many years in media, I can tell you it is not.

Controlling the messaging

Little information has been given the American people by the Obama administration. Official statements have focused on apologizing for the film and condemning the individual who made it. Amid a tight race for the U.S. presidency, there is a need for the administration to have a scapegoat.

Organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations even barred The Daily Caller from a press event:

“The Council on American-Islamic Relations blocked a Daily Caller reporter from access to the group’s press conference Wednesday afternoon, accusing the outlet of being a ‘hate group’ … The noon press conference was scheduled to address Islamist attacks on American embassies in Egypt and Libya Tuesday night. After a CAIR staffer reviewed the credentials of The DC’s reporter, he handed the card to Ibrahim Hooper, the group’s communications director. Hooper smirked and told the reporter, ‘The Daily Caller is not a news outlet, it is a hate group. You cannot come in.’”

CAIR’s response illustrates the mindset many fundamentalists have—there can only be one ideology and those who do not espouse it are barred from any participation. That is typically how fundamentalist governments work as well.

In the United States, there is no way to legally keep tabs on what Americans say about any faith. The idea is preposterous.

Obviously, the U.S. is in serious need of a strong leader who is able to articulate and stand by American values.

Even more evident is the need for a viable policy, and questioning interventionist tactics that attempt to sell democracy in countries where the laws of man will eternally be subordinate to the laws of a deity.

In April, a State Dept. official told the National Journal that the War on Terror is over and legitimate Islamism was emerging.

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Sept. 14, 2012)

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