I will have a fuller article posted later (and maybe a podcast or video), but I felt the need to get this thought out: Films do not kill people. Why must this be said? Because article after article makes it sound as though the Muhammad Film is responsible for protests, violence, and murder.
Whatever one thinks of the film (and it looks deplorable to me), the film has killed no one. The film will not and cannot kill anyone. The violence does not stem from the film. The violence stems from Muslims who do not like the film. They are offended by the film. They do not have the right to destroy property and commit murder based on that fact. Would anyone have considered it acceptable for Christians to riot and kill embassy officials in response to The Last Temptation of Christ? Instead, that movie got rave reviews and was nominated for an Oscar. No Christian stormed an embassy. And no one would have approved if he had.
Why, then, is it quickly becoming an accepted meme that this Muhammad film has led to protests, violence, and murder? The film did not do that. Muslims did that. To put the blame on the film–and even on Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who threatened to burn a Koran–is to appease violent people out of fear of them. In other words, it is cowardice.
UPDATE (September 19, 2012)
According to this story, even the White House is now having to admit that the attacks in Libya had nothing to do with the movie trailer for Innocence of Muslims. It was pre-planned attack using heavy artillery. The U.S. policy apparently was to “minimize” our presence there so as not to incite violence. Thus, our Ambassador is dead. Clearly, the movie is not to blame. It’s incredible how error spreads like a prairie fire.
Update Two: According to the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, the film had absolutely nothing to do with the attacks in Libya.
Today, the President admonished Pastor Jones, encouraging him to “listen to those better angels” who recommend not burning the Quran. There is a united consensus among leaders in America that Pastor Jones should not burn the Muslim books. Political leaders, religious leaders, media elites have uniformly condemned the act. I heard this morning that some–including Franklin Graham–have called to plead with the pastor to stop the burning plan. With these leaders, I agree. The burning is an unnecessary offense.
But we must not lose perspective. If he burns a thousand copies of the Quran, he will not have conducted an offense as egregious as a single murder. Murder is what Muslims are proposing in response. I hope our outrage will produce strong condemnation for those who murder in the name of Islam. If murders do unfold–which President Obama seems to think they will–they should be condemned by the same religious, political, and media leaders who have so roundly condemned Pastor Jones. Indeed, let us hope there will be outrage by Muslim leaders, too, since the murders will be committed in the name of their religion.
The truth of the matter is that no one is outraged when Bibles are burned. It is settled policy in Saudi Arabia that Bibles are confiscated and burned (or shredded). Bibles were burned earlier this year in Iran. I don’t remember the religious tolerance outrage in those instances, and I cannot believe any leader would have considered Christian violence an acceptable response to the Bible burnings. So, why give Islam a pass?
When cartoons of Mohamed ended with Muslim rioting and people killed, we were expected to apologize and not do that any more. When Pope Benedict gave a speech in Germany concerning the reasonableness of not murdering in the name of religion, Muslims shot a nurse in Africa in protest. Another news story today reports that Muslims are threatening to kill a woman in Tennessee because she is opposed to the building of a mosque there. At what point do we say to Islam, you may not like our liberty, but you better not kill our people?
I am not bothered by those who condemn Pastor Jones. He is being given way too much attention for his publicity stunt. I pray that Christians in other countries will not suffer because of his foolishness (though they likely will). What I am bothered by (besides the threats of murder) is an acquiescence to violence if it is done in the name of Islam. Those who murder in the name of Islam ought to be condemned much more severely than Pastor Jones is being condemned for burning the Quran.
Isn’t the murder of 6 Christian doctors in Afghanistan more horrendous than burning the Quran? Why so little outrage about that?
I don’t know of too many folks asking really tough questions when it comes to international affairs and the role of Islamic terror. Robert Spencer, however, is asking the questions. Some of the questions he has are these:
Why did someone who became interested in the Koran and wanted to serve Allah get involved in terrorism? Why are so many students of the Koran hardcore Misunderstanders of Islam? Why are such questions never asked, never answered, and consigned to “Islamophobia”?
If you are interested in such questions, read the full post here. The post concerns the terror suspect recently arrested in Brooklyn, NY.