What Should We Do With This Guy?
Posted 18 September 2012 - 01:39 AM
Ultimately, the video is meaningless and irrelevant, as there are literally thousands of acceptable "inflammatory" videos available to choose from if one wishes to inflame a rowdy mob. The United States' current approach to North Africa and Southwest Asia is doomed to failure as we are not committed as a nation to taking on the task of providing for the security and stability of the regions in question, and the power vacuum left by the Arab Spring, Iraq war, and Afghan war provides many opportunities for motivated "community organizers" to inflame a populace that is rightly pissed off over our approach to foreign relations for the last 50 years or so. Think of these agents as being the militant islamic version of those that pulled the strings for the tea party, recruiting useful idiots to promote their agenda.
We, in the western world (though increasingly just the US), are faced with a troubling choice. We can 1) enforce imperialism effectively, and while not winning the hearts and minds, at least we'd be keeping the peace and making the trains run on time, or 2) offer safe haven to millions of political refugees but withdraw completely from the region and let the people sort out their own fate. As long as we try to do a bit of both, we will only succeed in prolonging the discord.
Our track record for option 1, long-term, is pretty poor, and even if it did work, it would just kick the can down the street for a few years until we lose interest again.
Option 2, is not as easy an option to take as it may at first appear, because International trade depends heavily on the Straights of Hormuz, Suez Canal, numerous oil fields and pipelines, and various ports being reliably safe and accessible to the international community. If we choose option 2, we can almost guarantee, for an undetermined time, any or all of these will be unsafe for international corporations to use. I'm not entirely sure the world economic situation is stable enough to take that hit, nor am I convinced of the US's ability or willingness to prevent it.
Posted 21 September 2012 - 02:42 AM
On the Freedom to Offend an Imaginary God
At moments like this, we inevitably hear—from people who don’t know what it’s like to believe in paradise—that religion is just a way of channeling popular unrest. The true source of the problem can be found in the history of western aggression in the region. It is our policies, rather than our freedoms, that they hate. I believe that the future of liberalism—and much else—depends on our overcoming this ruinous self-deception. Religion only works as a pretext for political violence because many millions of people actually believe what they say they believe: that imaginary crimes like blasphemy and apostasy are killing offenses.
- Turtle and CraigD like this
Posted 21 September 2012 - 10:45 AM
Another good quote from Sam Harris's blog entry:
I know I cannot eloquently elucidate my views on a given issue. That's why I'm happy to defer to those who can, like Sam Harris.
On the Freedom to Offend an Imaginary God
Here is where the line must be drawn and defended without apology: We are free to burn the Qur’an or any other book, and to criticize Muhammad or any other human being. Let no one forget it.
In light of this, I’m moved to self-quote
An important distinction is that Nakoula Basseley Nakoulais not on probation for “offending the faithful” – there is no such, and Constitutionally cannot be such a crime in the US – but for fraud, specifically cheque fraud.
As it’s reported that Nakoula is on probation for a previous conviction, and the terms of his probation “barred him from either owning or using devices with access to the Web without prior approval from his probation officer”, it’s up to his PO if he is returned to prison for violating his probation.
I believe that it would be a mistake for his PO, and the higher-up managers and court officers who are certain to become involved in such a high level case, to do nothing in response to his likely involvement in the making and promoting of Innocence of Muslims.
I hope his PO and the higher-level managers who are certain to become involved in such a high level case do so, because I believe that Nakoula’s safety can be better assured in prison, and because he is likely to engage in fraud if his access to the internet and other communication is not strictly supervised, which cannot practically be done outside of prison.
I was surprised to read this, as, based on quotes that it was “made for $5 million obtained from 200 Jewish investors”, I assumed his fraud involved financing Innocence of the Muslims or other films. Instead, as best I’ve been able to determine, Nakoula pled no-contest to charges of “paper hanging” – writing a bad check from one account, then depositing it to another account and withdrawing cash from the second account. It seems odd to me that the conditions of probation for this crime would be restricting internet use, so I suspect the police and court know of other fraudulent activities with which he has not been charged, or these charges not discovered by journalists.
I was glad to read that, as of the early hours of Mon 17 Sep, Nakoula and his family have, with the help of police, been hidden in a secret location. It’s good that officials are making a strong effort to assure their safety.
As I learn more about Nakoula, my guess as to his motives for making and promoting Innocence of the Muslims is that, as an Egyptian-born Coptic Christian, he was expressing his views about religious persecution of Christians by Muslims, not attempting some sort of fraud. Though I’ve been unable, and have made little effort to discover the identity or motives of the people who drew attention to Nakoula’s nearly 5-month old YouTube video, my guess is that they are political dissidents in various middle-east countries who found the video a convenient “flash point” to stir up mass protests to further their political asperations.
In short, I believe the people most responsible for the vandalism and murder of American property and Americans, and of property and people in their own countries, are less interested in promoting religious righteousness or denouncing Nakoula or the US government than they are in gaining power in their countries governments.
Rather than asking what we US citizens should do about Nakoula, I think a better and more critical question is what the people of Egypt, Lybia, and other countries caught up in this wave of violent insurrection should do about their governments and anti-government instigators. This is a terribly complicated question, for which I don’t think I can offer much help, other than to sincerely wish these people the best of luck.