It's A Copt-Out
So what have we discovered on the wake of all the fuss about the Innocence of Muslims film? Well, first of all, as you will already know if you've seen even the trailer, it's a really bad film. I don't mean bad as in hateful, or ill-advised, or anything like that. I mean badly made. I mean, its production values make Ed Wood look like Steven Spielberg. The first few minutes are all in Arabic and seem to be old bits of newsreels. Then we have a very American-sounding Muslim suddenly talking about how many wives the Prophet had, which leads to some totally disconnected and surreal dialogue. (Incidentally, you can tell how fact-based this film is going to be when the very first line in it tells us that "We know our Prophet had sixty-one wives, eleven at the same time". Actual historians seem a trifle uncertain as to how many wives he had: the lowest estimate I've read is thirteen, and a Muslim site reckons he had fifteen, but even an anti-Muslim Christian site (Islam: Truth or Myth?) only cranks that figure up to sixteen. If the film had suggested twenty, or even twenty-five wives, it might have been credible: but sixty-one? Come on....
Then we have scenes of a mob of Muslims with flaming torches burning down the homes of "forsaken Christians" while other very unconvincingly trash and loot a clinic. All the while a bunch of guys in uniform with CIA-type shades watch but take no action. Then we see a doctor telling his daughters that the police had arrested 1400 Christians, tortured them and made them confess to the killings. Then there's a really bizarre bit where he starts writing up equations about Islam as a lesson to his daughters. Then we cut to the "life of Muhammad" part, which kicks off by describing Muhammad as a bastard and doesn't get any better. He's portrayed by a guy who looks like a California beach bum, as a petulant spoiled idiot whose "prophecies" were cobbled together by family members from bits of old Hebrew and Christian scriptures (deliberately choosing incorrect versions, of course) to cast his tantrums in a good light.
The Wikipedia article seems to have good information about the various versions going around on the web. Certainly the one I watched (over an hour long) simply appeared to loop round the film (more or less) a few times. Mind you the whole thing is so confused (and so conducive to fast-forwarding so as to retain the will to live) that it's easy to get confused. I note that Bonni the Nazi has the "full version" up: presumably she hasn't bothered to watch it or she would know it's a loop. (It's an interesting question as to whether there is any moral difference between people who condemn a film without watching it and those who promote one without watching it.)
The Wikipedia article also covers the initially vexed question of who was responsible for this trash. A few thoughts:
(1) Making a "controversial" film as a celebration of free speech is more convincing if you don't feel the need, not only to hide your identity, but to blame it on the wholly innocent Jews
(2) However intentional the effect on Muslim opinion, and however much you may have intended for the blame to fall on the world's Jews, not to give any consideration to the effect on your actual co-religionists (Coptic Christians) - the ones not already equipped with false names and criminal mates with whom to hide out - is not the act of someone simply trying to "tell the truth". It's the act of someone dedicated and determined to cause inter-religious strife of as many kinds as possible, and regardless of the consequences.
(3) Again, your First Amendment flag flies a little more proudly when you don't lie to most of the participants about what you're involving them in.
(Bonni, incidentally, thinks it absolutely terrible that the film-maker has been identified as a Christian (or as we Christians call them, "Christian"), presumably because it suited her so well to have the Jews getting all the blame.)
(4) The film's producers seem to have been a collection of drug pushers, scammers and ultra-right-wing terrorists, which detracts rather from the lofty moral purpose they claimed for the film. It seems more likely that there was some hope for financial profit, which has probably largely evaporated now that so many people have seen the film and know it's shit.
As to the protests, I'm inclined to agree with those who reckon that the film simply provided an excuse for pre-arranged mayhem. at least initially. The film had been around for a while, but it seems there was no Arabic translation online until very recently. Whether that lack was remedied deliberately at around the time of September 11th, who knows? It certainly added a populist element to the riots in Egypt, Libya etc which they would probably otherwise have lacked, especially when the film was being touted as a Jewish-American production rather than an Egyptian-Christian one. The person who publicised the dubbed version, like the original film-maker, was an Egyptian Copt (stripped of his citizenship for advocating terrorism).
Let's be quite clear: there is no excuse for violence over a film, or a book, or a play. I don't care who is dishing it out, or who they're dishing it out to: it's unacceptable whatever your religion. And it IS unacceptable to most practitioners of any religion, whether they're Jews, Christians, Muslims, pagans, whatever. When the violence results in loss of life it's even worse, and whatever justification the world's Baruch Goldsteins, Anders Breiviks and Osama bin Ladens come up with in terms of their religions, they don't hold water as far as the religious leaders or the general public are concerned.
Which is why soon after the US Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, was murdered, there was a massive march in Benghazi in support of the murder victims. Not that it received much publicity in our supposedly pro-Muslim media, all of which preferred to concentrate on the pictures of burning cars and bearded Islamists around the globe.
The American right is just buzzing with conspiracy theories over all this (anything to distract attention from the almost-certainly-terminal implosion of Romney's foot-in-mouth presidential campaign). Taking Bonni the Nazi as a handy example of a fairly typical wingnut, we have in no particular order:
Ambassador Stevens was raped before being killed (a neat trick when you're assassinated with an RPG - did the "rapist" ride on the grenade like the guy at the end of Dr Strangelove?).
He was murdered by Hillary Clinton.
He deserved to die because of his "leftism".
He had no business being a US ambassador anyway because he was gay.
The anti-American protests are the result of the US President's being a Muslim (no, I can't figure that one out either).
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is a traitorous terrorist sympathizer.
The US State Department knew about the attacks in advance. (And don't you love the photograph at the bottom of this one? Apparently comforting a bereaved government employee is insufficiently macho behaviour for a US President. But then we know that the right considers President Obama a "girlie man".
The US Ambassador to Egypt was in league with the protestors and betrayed America's interests. (Or as Bonni puts it, oozing hatred as ever of any woman who escapes the kitchen to pursue a career, "It’s times like this when I regret women were ever given the vote".)
The attack on the Libyan embassy was planned by Egypt's President Morsi.