The So-Called Arab Winter

Let’s start out with the confession that, like most Americans, I have no ties to the Middle-East. Because of that, like me, most Americans have difficulty understanding the motivation for the actions of the people in these lands.

Violence erupted on September 11th across the Arab world, supposedly in response to an anti-Islamic video created and posted to YouTube by a felon restricted from using the Internet. He has been questioned by police, not for creating the video, but for breaking terms of parole.

The video itself is atrocious. The scene I believe caused the outrage is over a bastard two-year-old son of a man dead for six years. They name the boy Mohamed, given a title something like bastard son of unknown father. I did not finish watching the video; I found it too superficial and an obvious insult to Islam to hold my interest.

But, let’s look at a few facts. First, this video was created in the United States where we have a constitution guaranteeing the right of people to free speech.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That the creators of this video had every right to create it is without question, inasmuch as Spike Jones had the right to create this song. That’s part of what America is, the freedom of expression, and it holds whether or not others approve of, or like what we have to say. That the video was intentionally inflammatory is superfluous to this point. That it may have violated terms of parole does not make it any less constitutionally-protected speech.

The other aspect of this comes from the Arab world. Without roots in this area, I certainly can’t speak for the people of the region. I don’t know their backgrounds and I don’t understand their motivation. What I can say is that they do not need this video as an excuse to express anger. While the video may have been the spark, it certainly isn’t the root cause of all the violence that has occurred in the past week.

The same players are stoking the fire. Hezbollah. Taliban. Al Qaida splinter groups. That the violence began on September 11th, a day of celebration for the groups mentioned, makes it seem all the more premeditated. That the video is in English only adds evidence to that theory because many would need Arabic translation. Who knows what those people heard, or were told?

This isn’t going away any time soon. The Middle-East has been a violent place since the days Homo neanderthalensis met the Homo sapiens in that region.

I am confident the video is a scapegoat for the violence. Surely there are far deeper hatreds that are being played upon. And I don’t have the solution, either. How do you appease a people who have lived their entire lives believing the Americans have oppressed them, and is there an obligation to do so anyway?

I don’t think it can be done, at least not in the short term. In the long term, it might be possible to gradually change opinions over the course of many decades. What I doubt is that the Americans have the singleness of purpose to make those efforts, and we’ll be fighting a new war in that area before too many years pass.

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