The events of the last couple of days are a stark reminder that you reap what you sow. The United States is now paying the supreme price for our arrogance in dealing with the Islamic people of the Near East (I use the old term for a reason) has resulted in neither stability nor democracy. We do not understand the Arab world; we do not understand Islam. Somehow we have convinced ourselves that Arabs are no different than us—rational by western standards, influenced by the Judeo-Christian ethic and a believer in the concept of the state ascending over tribalism. They are rational, but by the standards of their culture, history, and religion. They are not western. They are tribal. Religion is the central part of their life. The concept of and loyalty to a nation state is accepted in the abstract but does not transcend their tribe or family. But they are rational actors. They do not like foreigners. They accept the tenets of their religion with fervor of belief.
We are reaping what we sowed.
I have no idea who produced the film on the Prophet Muhammad. Were their actions honorable or not? Could it be a grand plan of disinformation—perhaps—what then was its purpose? Was it to drive a wedge between the United States and the greater Islamic world? Was it to start a jihad against the west? Was it designed to start a war against a religion that some claim is not a religion rather a radical political philosophy?
We do not know the answers to these questions, but what we do know is the anger of the middle east is firmly directed at the United States, that the actions of those who produced this film have consequences—the death of American’s serving their nation and placing the lives of thousands of Americans serving in the middle east.
As a nation we believe in the essential freedoms enshrined in our Bill of Rights. We take these very seriously, especially those found in the First Amendment. As individuals we sometime forget that those rights come with obligations. One of those obligations with speech is restraint, as Justice Holmes once quipped; it does not give you a right to yell fire in a crowded theater.
The individuals who produced this film are only partially to blame; collectively as a nation we must accept responsibility because we are reaping what we sow.