I suppose it’s possible that it was a sheer coincidence, but the significance of an attack on September 11th isn’t lost to any living American. Most of us still remember that day… the beautiful weather (at least in my part of the country), watching TV and maybe thinking for just a split second that this was possibly the best movie special effect you’d ever seen in your life. Then realizing with shock and horror that you were witnessing an attack on our country. Suddenly, war, death and pain was no longer some far-off country’s problem… it was our problem. We were attacked, we were killed, and those left behind had to find the strength to rebuild.
This is why yesterday’s attack on the US Embassy at Benghazi, Libya is so tough to comprehend. US Ambassador Christopher Stevens, and 3 other brave Americans died at the hands of an angry mob. Our freedom is something that we continue to take for granted, even as those of us on the front lines continue to risk their lives (and sometimes sacrifice them) for our shroud of ignorance. But what was the cause of this senseless violence?
A film by Jewish real-estate developer named Sam Bacile is what sparked all of this outrage, and it continues to spread across the Muslim world. To Muslims, this film is highly offensive, casting the prophet Muhammad as an imbecile, and even a child molester. Eventhough the New York Post declared “it’s just a stupid movie!!” it wasn’t seen that way at all to the Muslim world.
Here’s what gets lost in translation… we live in a Democracy. We’re used to these types of things. And even when someone highly offends us, most Americans would rather demand an apology than try to cause the other person harm. And maybe in extreme cases, we’ll take our “fight” against them to a court of law. But burning and death rarely enter the picture for us. As a highly individualistic society, we also tend to seek individuals for blame over groups. If one person in somebody’s family is a racist, we don’t (ususally) assume every member of their family to be the same.
But outside our shores, Sam Bacile isn’t known to Libya. They probably didn’t take the time to parse out details of who created the film, or any of the motivations behind it. The mobs in Benghazi and Cairo simply saw “American”, and they reacted. To them, there is no difference between one self-identified hater of Islam, and the 312 million diverse, dynamic population that is the USA. We’re all just Americans. And to the minority of persons in these nations that already sought to harm the US, a film like this played right into their hands.
September 11th, 2012 was yet another reminder that freedom isn’t free. It’s a reminder that the live of privilege that we live in this country is attached to huge responsibilities. After posting such a bold statement as this D-movie has become, Mr. Bacile is currently in hiding. This person’s irresponsible behavior has now left him with blood on his hands. One has to wonder if he’s proud of this accomplishment now, and if he mourns the lives of these innocent Americans as well. As a wealthy man, would he be willing to reach out to these families and take responsibility for being so hateful and foolish?
As we continue to mourn the fallen, we as Americans also have to take heed. The blessing of living in a free country has consequences. Just because we are free to have and express our own opinions, no matter how vile they may be, does not exempt us from the responsibility to respect others. If we can’t do that, then we will continue to leave ourselves vulnerable to incidents like this.