Thoughts On ‘Innocence Of Muslims’ And Freedom Of Speech

“The Innocence of Muslims” is a low budget recording by reported amateur filmmaker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula that pokes fun at the roots and history of founders of the Islamic faith. Some may not have actually seen the movie, and thus may react that the film, and its trailer uploaded to Google owned YouTube, is incediary. True. In that the term ‘incediary’ refers more to the reactions of others as opposed to actual content. The film is parody. And as a writer that often may be framed as a contrarian, and a damn witty one, I can’t condone murder in the name defending a prophet and a religion when I question god, state, mothers, sisters, uncles, family members and their affiliate gangs, and every other aspect of my own family, culture, or personal life hourly. I cannot defend the ideas used to construct the humor used by the 55-year-old Nakoula — a Coptic Christian identified as the pieces only writer, director and financier of the film — but I also would hate to have to live in a world were any piece that sparks febrile reactions amongst a group of people that justifiably could have used any virulent display of the Islamic faith, and more importantly, any works that stimulate a Western posture. Let’s face it, there is a heavy anti-USA sentiment in the Middle East.

YouTube has reportedly blocked the movie from being veiwed in Egypt and Libya in response to the torching of the US Consulate in Libya that culminated in the deaths of four US diplomats. The deaths of US ambassador Chris Stevens, former Navy SEAL commandos Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, and information management officer Sean Smith in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi were memorialized by US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State, Hilary Rodham Clinton. Both, Clinton and Obama, addressed the nature of the film as well as response to the film. The Afghan government has asked YouTube to remove the video as they block Google services(source). In Malaysia, Information Minister Rais Yatim says the influential of Malaysia have asked that the clips be removed from YouTube citing “explosive commotions and repercussions at hand” as their reasoning(source).

Maya Angelou spoke today about not speaking out against those that use perjoratives and that those who are assailed against in one area will one day be your Self. I watched her in all her venerable glory speak towards the concerns as well as her diagnosis for the brave new world we now persist in. In her wisdom, on Melissa Harris-Perry’s eponymously title show, she labeled courage as the number one virtue because it allows us to speak out when people make incendiary or disrespectful statements about others.

I’m not quite sure I can agree with that. I understand her statements and sentiments regarding ‘courage’. I don’t think the problem we face in this world is one of ‘cowardliness’ in as much as I believe it is one of greed. Global greed causes a recognition that lines have been drawn in the sand that divides those of the West from those of the East as those of the West invade, destroy, usurp, and force th East to assimilate with Western mores. How can one of good conscience — or at least rational fairness — address those on the ground in these places being attacked and invaded by Western influence that calls their way of life violent and reckless while Western drones kill children as a mission statement? How can you expect the leaders(the Imams, the Sheiks, and the Muftis) not use any device at their disposal to rally their cause against an aggressive perpetrator that obviously has more hegemonic reasons for their presence than moral indignation? That I get.

I understand why any group of thinkers with a body of active objective agents of change would use this as a reason to attack. It is a sign that even the charms of Chi-town Barrack cannot assuage the pain fomented by US foreign policy and Western greed. Yet, I consider this what it is, a geo-political reaction. Whether I agree with it has no bearing on my stance for the freedom to speak, write, and mold art as I feel, no matter how offensive others might deem it.