CAT | Syndicated columns
“Say ye unto the Khwarezmians that I am the soveign of the sunrise, and [the emperor is] the sovereign of the sunset. Let there be between us a firm treaty of friendship, amity, and peace, and let traders and caravans on both sides come and go.”
– Ghengis Khan, to an ambassador from the Khwarezmian empire, before the Khwarezmian (Persian) Emperor had the Mongol ambassadors murdered, provoking a war that led to his defeat and death.
After the murder of U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other diplomatic personnel in Benghazi, Libya, I received an email that drew my attention to a letter to the editor posted in the U.K. Daily Telegraph.
“Would Americans reading this at last grasp that free speech does not extend beyond the jurisdiction of the Constitution which grants the Right. Those who imagine otherwise do the USA a grave disservice if not criminal damage to American interests.
We in UK enjoy similar freedom but Americans must not take this for granted elsewhere. Like it or not politics and religion are sides of the same coin in the Muslim world. Does the US invite another 9/11 ?”
The cluelessness of this is staggering. This WAS another 9/11. Not the same in scope and casualties, but carrying the same message.
Unfortunately this cluelessness is matched by our Diplomatic Service. U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice earnestly announces that the riots in Libya are apparently spontaneous a and not part of any coherent plan, even as more embassies in Muslim countries come under siege and AL Queda urges more attacks on U.S. diplomats.
“What happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, prompted by the video,” Rice said.
Oh puh-lease! These events are deliberate, planned, and come with a message, “We are at war with you and will not allow you to forget it.”
The ostensible excuse was an amateurish 14 minute trailer for a movie depicting the prophet Mohammed in an unfavorable light, that now appears never to have been made. The trailer is probably all there is of the film. It seems to be the production of an Egyptian Coptic Christian who is on probation/parole for some kind of fraud. It is not even certain the trailer was originally intended to be about Mohammed at all, since it seems to be clumsily overdubbed.
Nevertheless, it is being touted as an intolerable insult to Islam, for which apologies, abasement, and restitution is required. Apologies which the administration seems only to willing to provide.
Those mobs claim they are offended at all of America, for the work of one man, or at most a handful of men, and want to hold all of us accountable for it.
There is something Americans fail to understand about Arab Islamic culture and their point of view. For them, rights and obligations are not reciprocal. They don’t see anything contradictory about insulting our faith, our culture, our way of life, while demanding the most meticulous respect for theirs.
It’s not the movie, it’s us! Get it? They don’t like us and will seize on any excuse to be offended.
From ancient times, both civilized people and barbarians have agreed upon one crucial principle, that the person of an ambassador is sacred. Ambassadors may come and go between warring sides bearing messages and return unharmed.
Christopher Stevens was not the victim of a random riot. He was sought out in his secret safe house and murdered. His body was dishonored and dragged through the streets as the rioters took pictures of him with their cell phone cameras, from inches away from his corpse.
This is also a message, “We are not interested in what you have to say. We will not listen. We will humiliate you as we choose, and you are impotent to do anything about it.”
Bio: Steve Browne is an award-winning reporter and columnist who entered journalism by accident while living and working in Eastern Europe from 1991 to 2004. He is the author of two books for English students: “Word Pictures: English as it is REALLY Used,” published in Belgrade, Yugoslavia and Novosibirsk, Russia, and “English Linguistic Humor: Puns, Play on Words, Spoonerisms, and Shaggy Dog Stories.” In 1997 he was elected an Honorary Member of the Yugoslav Movement for the Protection of Human Rights. He is currently living in his native Midwest, which he considers “the most interesting foreign country I have ever lived in.”
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