The Western reaction is... familiar, particularly in its understanding of the Middle East as a bonfire waiting to happen and criticism of Islam as the spark that ignites it. Descriptions of the YouTube film (a trailer, actually) that “sparked protests in many Muslim countries”—as the New Yorker put it in a typical formulation—rely on this false metaphor. It suggests that the protests are spontaneous occurrences that would not have come about without such a spark, and that the demonstrating Muslims are primitive savages governed by passion, not responsible for their own actions. The only parties with control over their actions are the filmmakers.The American State Department, various celebrities, news media and even Anglican clerics are condemning the video trailer in question and blaming it for the mobs' behaviours throughout the Middle East. I heard that Bette Midler even went so far as to claim that the makers of the movie should be tried as accessories to murder!
I have heard it argued that the current situation is tantamount to crying, "Fire!" in a crowded theater (the standard argument for limits on free speech.) Well first of all, expressing an opinion (criticism of Islam), whether true or not, is hardly the same as shouting Fire when there is none. Secondly, those who hear the word, "Fire!" in a crowded theater would quite naturally have one reaction - to head as quickly as possible toward the exits. Muslims who feel insulted have a choice how to respond, don't they?
Frankly, this liberal attitude should be an insult to all moderate Muslims. To assume that the only possible reaction to an insulting movie is to riot, burn and kill, as if these mobs had no control over their behaviour, is nothing short of incredibly condescending. It's almost as if to say, "These people, after all, are savages, they can't help their reaction."
Many on the liberal side are now
What happened was anything but spontaneous:
Al-Qaida already has claimed that the Benghazi killings were motivated not by the film, but by a desire to avenge the drone killing of an al-Qaida leader. The Egyptian unrest was no less premeditated. On August 30, the terrorist group Jamaa al-Islamiya called for 9/11 riots in Cairo, and Egypt’s large Salafist party, Al Nour, followed suit. The film seems to have been used as a pretext. Egyptian prime minister Hesham Kandil now claims that “a number” of demonstrators admit they were paid for their efforts.We are playing right into the extremists' hands.