Thursday, September 13, 2012

Shouting "FIRE!" in Global Theater - Caused Death of US Ambassador - First in over 30 years

Americans love our freedom of speech. But even in 1st Amendment speech, courts have always ruled that no one has the free speech right to falsely yell "FIRE!" in a crowded theater that causes people to be killed in the ensuing panic. 

A false video version of "FIRE!" has just happened on a GLOBAL scale, caused by a racist film that Hillary Clinton called "deeply cynical and false." It was deliberately designed to incite violence by Muslims, using false facts about the Prophet Muhammad. It worked.  We have entered a dangerous new era where technology and ignorance can get other Americans harmed or killed in other parts of the world. 

That doesn't justify the killings, but in the YouTube Internet age it is now possible for a tiny number of people to manipulate events and make false claims designed to cause great harm to innocent people. In this case American extremists sparked anger that resulted in the deaths of our own diplomats.

This is the first time a U.S. diplomat has been killed in over 30 years. 1979 was the last time - a time when I was traveling the world for the Fortune 500 on international negotiations (including the Middle East).

We could see more of this disturbing trend by our own "Christian" extremists (think Terry Jones) spreading hate speech via the Internet, which Islamic extremists can use to stoke anger by "small, savage groups" (as Hillary Clinton called them) in unstable places like Egypt and Libya. It becomes a vicious cycle and threatens ordinary Americans and others worldwide.

Riots as a result of this twisted movie have spread from Libya to Egypt in the Middle East to Indonesia to Malaysia - provoking anger and riots in Muslim countries far outside the Middle East. There are over 1 billion Muslims in the world.

I have been in nearly 50 countries, including the Middle East. I have been in Cairo. I was there when President Carter took over my hotel for the first ever peace treaty between Israel and Egypt in 1979. I have been a TV terrorism adviser since 1991 and again on/after 9/11. I can tell Americans this FACT.

People in Arab countries are used to a system where NOTHING happens without GOVERNMENT APPROVAL (all MEN). So, they would naturally assume anything coming from the Unites States is with GOVERNMENT APPROVAL.That's why the people vented their anger at our diplomats. Little do they know how little our government controls when it comes to speech even when its false.

Being provocative may be protected speech in the United States, but it has deadly consequences in other parts of the world.  Christian extremism, combined with the Muslim extremist reaction it was intended to provoke, resulted in the death one of our best Ambassadors, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans in Libya. Stevens loved Libya. He was a career guy who showed up on a ship during the revolution and helped Libyans get free from dictator Gaddafi, the terrorist who ruled Libya for 42 years and bombed American Pan AM 103 in 1988, killing 270 people. Gaddafi had murdered untold numbers of his own citizens.

Imagine if someone had done a video of Jesus committing rape or having sex.  Christians would be outraged.Why would Muslims not be upset by a false portrayal of Muhammad as Christians would be of a false portrayal of Jesus? Just because Episcopalians don't burn buildings or kill Ambassadors because Jesus was shown having sex with women, don't expect poor Arab workers to be as sophisticated and emotionally controlled.

Video fraud and twisted reality by American extremists can be deadly globally for our own fellow Americans who are doing good things in the world. With YouTube, the extremists on each side can "troll" for an outrageous video to incite their own people. In a way, each extremist camp, Christian and Muslim, can "feed" on each other for their own twisted purposes of generating hate and anger. God would not be pleased with either.

Ordinary Libyans are as shocked as Americans are. The Libyan President apologized and four suspects have been arrested. (The Egyptian President has hedged, and that is a problem, but that's a topic for another day.) The damage is done from ONE hate speech video put on YouTube which goes "Viral" globally with tragic consequences.

Solution? Showing disrespect is the root cause of the problem, along with a lack of personal responsibility for the consequences of "anything goes" speech.

It's time we got back to Interfaith dialogue between Muslims, Christians and Jews and showing respect - a tall order when ignorance and false facts rule the day.

In the high-tech, global 21st century, now ONE VIDEO has the ability to CAUSE DEADLY CONSEQUENCES TO AMERICANS, GLOBALLY.

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  1. I hate racism of all kinds! With that said, to assemble as a group and attack any political representative of any country for any reason, ignorrance is no defense, IS AN ACT OF WAR! Acts of war should be treated as acts of war. We as Americans have become soft spoken and are so willing to hide behind our forefathers words while we sit cowardly behind miles of ocean and we justify our safety and comfort to the world as disconnect and isolation. I can hear the voices of reason now; let us see what they are really want. How dare the writer disclaim and discount what has truely happened!

  2. Michael, I agree that trolling combined with globalization has exponentially increased the danger of this kind of violent unrest. And I agree that there is such a thing as going too far with "free speech." On the one hand, as a purely pragmatic matter I am almost tempted to side with those who say that this kind of speech should be abridged due to the danger. Almost.

    On the other hand... well, as you say: "Just because Episcopalians don't burn buildings or kill Ambassadors... don't expect poor Arab workers to be as sophisticated and emotionally controlled." And that's where it all breaks down for me. There are plenty of poor, unsophisticated Episcopalians out there too... poverty and lack of sophistication are therefore insufficient to explain why some Arab Muslims cannot seem to behave in a civilized manner. It is patently obvious to anyone who can hold a coherent thought in mind, that killing diplomats and burning embassies is not a good response to an insult, no matter how grave the insult. It is also no way to garner respect.

    As you also rightly point out, the Egyptian president's response (and those of a number of other Arab leaders)has been sorely lacking. But you didn't mention that Muslim Brotherhood-run media has also been intentionally stoking this story for days, and has a large share in provoking the violence. Some Islamists are doing the manipulating, and others eagerly rush to be manipulated.

    As I have written elsewhere, I have been to the ME and enjoyed the hospitality and friendship of my Muslim hosts. They were regular, likable people. But lately it's getting harder to remind myself of that, and THAT is the secondary danger of this mindless violence: if my previously favorable attitude toward Muslims is turning unfavorable, how is anyone without personal exposure EVER supposed to think of them with respect? All we see from here is a brainless, violent mob whose strings are too easily pulled.


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