Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Departed

The Scorsese film fascinated me, not least for the reason that the entire film seemed to involve two groups playing cops 'n' robbers as a role-playing game with virtually no intrusion from the "outside" world.  The cops pursue the crooks, who in turn mislead the cops, and in the end the only people hurt are:  the cops and the robbers.  All the deaths are either of criminals or of police, and the whole story is so insular that no character in it isn't in one group or the other.  The only victims of the crimes are from these two groups, in the entire movie.

Would that real life were like this; because we're getting a clearer picture of who is involved in this "Innocence of the Muslims" "film" (I'm still not convinced it exists except on YouTube).  But the people involved in this story aren't all in America. They all are, however, extremists nuts who hate other religions:

Jones and Mr. Bacile cannot be blamed for the violence and death of the ambassador. That blame goes to the perpetrators. Who whipped them up? Ground zero for bringing attention to the movie in Egypt appears to be Al-Nas TV, a religious channel owned by Saudi Arabian businessman Mansour bin Kadsa. A TV show presented by anti-Christian, anti-Semitic host Khaled Abdullah before the violence showed what he said were clips from the film, which he insisted was being produced by the United States and Coptic (Egyptian) Christians.
This fits with what NPR reported this morning, about Libyans upset by the film, but also wondering why America would allow this film to be made.  When I heard that I figured the average Libyan just didn't understand the 1st Amendment, and that they just assumed anything made in America was made with the approval of the American government.  Turns out I should have given them more credit, and should have considered there was a reason they thought the American government was involved.

We've had people in this country moved to demonstrate, if not moved to mob violence, by similar attempts to whip up fervor.  It isn't really that they are all that different from us.  And somebody is trying to use all of us for their own ends.

What do we do about that?


  1. Windhorse11:56 AM

    What do we do about that?

    I think many of life"s problems boil down to mastering the simple exhortation of the First Commandment. Once we stop worshipping idols we are no longer moved to violence or recrimination when we perceive that our idols have been slighted, and therefore no longer subject to manipulation by politicians or warmongers or grifters or idealogues of any kind.The reward for mastering this rule is freedom and the potential payoff is peace,

  2. Odd, isn't it? Television and cable networks that couldn't have pointed to Benghazi on a map on September 10 now know all about every last detail of a mob's action on September 12, including what You Tube video and even which specific frames set the mob off.

    Of course, that's the only conceivable reason those mindless mobsters could have for any anti-American sentiments: they're just religious fanatics, they are! End of story. Certainly no need whatsoever to delve into any purported messiness like drone attacks raining sudden death down from the sky, or economic policies that make sure millions are impoverished so a handful of overrich fat cats suck up a little more wealth. So nevermind that, and let's get to blaming those cuh-razy Mooslims!

  3. The whole thing puts me in mind of a phrase Dom Crossan attributes to Jesus of Nazareth in his reconstruction of what he thinks were the original stories and phrases which got passed around and elaborated into the stories and sayings we know from the Gospels.

    Most are just very short versions of familiar sayings, but this one, while it derives from Luke 12:49 (says Crossan) is so pithy and different from Jesus in the Gospels, has always stuck with me:

    "When you start a fire you want it to burn."

    Which is powerfully true; but also a matter of be careful what you wish for.

  4. I've got an uneasy feeling that this kind of thing is going to get worse. The internet, TV, radio, can all be used to immediately whip up this kind of thing by anyone who wants to incite violence and try to game it to their ends. Including the Terry Jones of this world, who would never be known if they couldn't do this. An attention seeking, amoral creep can become world famous by inciting violence like this. If there was no threat of violence, no violence, really, their tactic wouldn't work.

    The First Amendment is based on a theory that if everyone can say what they want to, eventually the right answer will win out by some kind of natural process. Well, the successful use of propaganda to overcome the truth and to get people killed is long enough and compelling enough to show that's not true. TV commercials are made and sold at great price for the ability to sell stuff through propaganda instead of honest information, hate is sold that way too.

    I think this use of hate talk, to whip up massive violence that gets people killed and makes us serious enemies will be what finally puts an end to that enlightenment theory. Speech is a right, it's one of a number of rights. In hate speech, it's a right that can be used to deprive other people of all their rights, including the one to life.

    There has to be a way to keep this kind of thing from getting lots of people killed. The Canadian and European laws limiting hate speech might provide some experimental evidence to go on.