At some stage, we all run out of words.
To me it happened yesterday, as I witnessed the news of four Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, killed by militants in Benghazi.
Perhaps because I have previously denounced such violence here, upheld freedom of expression here and expressed loyalty to my country, America, here. So the words of an Israeli spokesperson helped me refocus. He characterized the alleged filmmaker — who was originally reported to be an Israeli-American, Sam Bacile — as, “a complete loose cannon and an unspeakable idiot.”
That “loose cannon” is now in hiding.
Yes, hiding. And that’s my beef with all these so called champions of free speech who feel so strongly about broadcasting their hateful views, yet run for cover when threatened. Why do these people leave innocent Americans like Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and his staff to pay the price of their irresponsible acts? Why don’t they man up? Why chicken out?
“It’s called, saving – your – life – from – the – crazy – Muslim – mobs – stupid,” you may say. I agree. But isn’t saving their own lives, while leaving other Americans in the lurch, the epitome of egotism?
These “loose cannons” must be held accountable for they not only shout fire in a crowded theatre; they conveniently witness the death of innocent Americans from their hiding places. And the fact that the maker of this vile video is in hiding, fits the pattern.
The pattern started in 1988 when Salam Rushdie’s novel “The Satanic Verses” included passages insulting Prophet Muhammad. As the mob emerged, Rushdie went into hiding. The mob killed many innocent non-Muslims.
Use any and all derogatory terms for these mobs. I don’t care. There is nothing Islamic about threatening people who offend your religious beliefs. And such barbarism should be condemned in the strongest terms.
But getting back to the hiding pattern. Robert Spencer, the author of what should have been titled “The Lies about Muhammad,” hides at an undisclosed location. I doubt American Muslims are keen to know your location; they are busy making ends meet. But ask the family members of those 68 people in Norway, who were killed by your protégée Anders Breivek, if they want to know your whereabouts. Rumor has it that Breivek mentioned you and your blog 162 times in his manifesto.
Similarly, the Quran burning joker, Terry Jones, enjoyed a security detail while our soldiers were under attack in Afghanistan. He remained defiant even after President Obama cautioned him on ABC News, stating that, “what he is purposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans” and that Jones’ plan to burn the Quran will put American soldiers at risk. But his own life was protected. So he didn’t care.
The makers of South Park, the Danish cartoonist, people behind the “Draw Muhammad Day” Facebook page and other loose cannons — who all have gone hiding at one time or another — leave millions of Americans vulnerable. Why don’t they become a martyr to their own cause? Why put our troops, diplomats and citizens at risk?
I don’t want to appease the senseless mobs. No, they must learn to engage in a civil dialogue, no matter how offensive the material may be. But until that long-term goal is achieved, we must do something to ensure the safety of innocent people, like Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and his three staff members, who paid the price of such provocations.
Freedom of expression is worth protecting. But so is the sanctity of human life. Those who knowingly jeopardize the lives of other people are — in the words of Israeli spokesperson — “the unspeakable idiots, the loose cannons.”
All I am asking is to keep a tight rein on these loose cannons.
Follow Dr. Faheem Younus on Twitter: www.twitter.com/FaheemYounus