The United States Ambassador to Libya was killed by persons as yet unidentified. Mitt Romney immediately attacked President Obama on the grounds he had issued an apology to the attackers. The problem with Mr. Romney’s protest is that it was based on either incorrect assumptions or an intentional attempt to make political gain by using a tragedy.
The so-called apology was actually not an apology at all. The statement issued by our embassy was published before the attacks on our ambassador and embassies and it had nothing to do with the attacks. The statement was in response to an Internet trailer promoting a film that depicted the prophet Mohammad as a ruthless, child molesting despot.
Few westerners can understand what such an American made film means to a people who have no concept of democratic government. In the Middle East no film is released unless reviewed and approved by government censors. Censors in these countries have never approved any film attacking any religion. In the Middle East public opinion is not reported in the media. It is made in the state controlled media. Criticism of religious or government institutions is not permitted.
To get an idea of how Mohammad is revered just imagine that Jesus and George Washington were one person. He is not only the father of his country, he is God’s representative on earth. Now imagine a Muslim country made a film depicting Washington as a ruthless, child molesting despot. And assume that the government of that Muslim country had not only approved the film, but had help produce it. This is how this American film is perceived in the Middle East.
Now imagine that the Old Testament was the American Constitution. It is the supreme law that defines crime and mandates every human activity right down to dress and diet. In that America, criminal and religious law are the same. Blasphemy, as decided by a religious court, is punishable by imprisonment, mutilation or even death. Priests are more powerful than senators, judges and governors.
While all Muslim countries do not practice this extreme form, there are political and religious factions in almost all Muslim countries that support this form of government. And because most present and past secular dictatorial governments have failed their people, the promises of religious extremists are generally very popular with a large number of citizens. What would the reaction be, in that version of America, to such an insult to their prophet/president?
I’m not trying to defend or justify Middle Eastern culture, I’m trying to describe what our leaders have to deal with in the Middle East and many other parts of the world. Should our embassy have issued a statement disowning and rejecting this film attacking a man held most dear to over a billion people? Yes! Our embassy did exactly what embassies are supposed to do.
There are two groups that should have been universally condemned. They are the people who made this film and the people who attacked and killed our citizens. Mr. Romney chose to condemn neither. While the fires were still burning and the dead being identified, he attacked his own president and state department, which had no part in either event. I can only assume Mr. Romney is a man who will say anything he thinks will advance his political career. I don’t really know why we should expect anything different from a man that has dedicated his entire life to making a lot of money, evading taxes and converting Christians to Mormonism.