It's been a tragic and trying week for the brave men and women who serve as ambassadors and diplomats for our country. What is already a frustrating and sometimes thankless task has been made doubly so-especially in the Middle East-because anti-American sentiment among Muslims is running higher than ever before.
Last Tuesday, September 11th, Islamic militants stormed a lightly-defended U.S. diplomatic mission in the Libyan city of Benghazi. In the four-hour-long firefight that followed, American ambassador Christopher Stevens, three members of his staff and ten Libyan police officers were murdered.
Supposedly, the attack was retaliation for a 14-minute-long movie trailer on YouTube that defames the Islamic religion. It was carried out by an Islamic brigade formed during last year's uprising against then-dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi.
The movie, which is entitled The Innocence of Muslims, has sparked outrage throughout the Islamic world for portrating the religion's prophet, Mohammed, as a womanizing degenerate. It should be noted that it's been shown only once to around ten people in a rented movie theater in California.
What's really got Muslims so upset is the movie's trailer, which has been available on YouTube in English since July. Egyptian-American lawyer and activist Morris Sadek dubbed the trailer into Arabic and brought it to the attention of the Islamic world on September 8th.
Big mistake, dude: anti-American protesting began just two days later. The attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi came a few short hours after an unarmed mob swarmed into the compound surrounding the United States Embassy in Cairo, Egypt.
The unrest has continued since then, with protesting, both peaceful and violent, seen in 28 different countries-among them Israel, India, Iraq and even Australia. The death toll continues to rise, although no more American fatalities have been reported.
That's got to be thanks to the swift reaction of the president. Obama on Friday dispatched several platoons of Marines to bolster the defenses of U.S. embassies and diplomatic missions in areas where the protesting was heaviest.
Naturally, Obama was criticized for his reaction to the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and his staff. Mitt Romney attempted to politicize the tragedy, condemning the president as "weak" for apologizing to terrorists.
My question is, just what did Mitt expect Obama to do, immediately hellfire-missle-drone-strike Benghazi and Cairo into dust and ashes? How would that help the situation at all?
In my opinion, our government reacted exactly as it should've reacted-our people are being protected from further violence, and those that did harm us are being hunted down. But this entire catastrophic episode raises a few questions for me.
The first one: How are we going to survive as a species if we start killing each other over videos on YouTube? Any reasonable Muslim ought to realize that the men and women who work in American embassies don't harbor any hatred for them or their prophet. In fact, it seems as if some do--pro-American demonstrations organized by brave citizens of Libya and Egypt began soon after the violence in Benghazi.
The second: Should creative works specifically designed to inflame and incite a dangerous and radical group, like The Innocence of Muslims, be protected by the First Amendment? Personally, I wouldn't mind the government taking one lousy video off YouTube if it meant sparing even one American serviceman, ambassador or diplomat.