6 Right-Wing Zealots (or Groups of Zealots) That Would Blow Up the World for Political Gain
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The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg interviewed Stein, who said of the 15 or so people behind the film, “They're from Syria, Turkey, Pakistan, they're some that are from Egypt. Some are Copts but the vast majority are Evangelical." Copts are an Egyptian Christian sect that has long faced persecution in its own long-standing conflict with the country's Muslim majority.
The film was designed to provoke a reaction, to push their right-wing religionist counterparts to acts of hatred and stupidity. On Wednesday, a lot of confused people suggested that the embassy's statement condemning this trash somehow conflicts with our First Amendment right to free speech, which might make some sense if anyone, anywhere, had suggested the filmmakers weren't within their constitutional rights in producing the film. Or if the First Amendment was a guarantee that you could say whatever you wanted and not be criticized. Of course, just because you have the right to do awful things that you know are likely to lead to bloodshed doesn't mean you should do awful things that are likely to lead to bloodshed. Make no mistake: they got what they wanted in sparking those riots.
American Islamophobes Terry Jones, Morris Sadik
The New York Times reports that another “ultraconservative cleric,” Terry Jones, “began promoting the video along with his own proclamation of Sept. 11 as ‘International Judge Muhammad Day.’” Jones sparked deadly riots in 2010 when he threatened to burn a stack of Korans in a high-profile quest for attention (Defense Secretary Robert Gates reportedly talked him out of the stunt).
According to the Guardian, “The film clip was also spotted and promoted last week by Morris Sadik, an Egyptian Coptic Christian based in California who runs a small virulently Islamophobic group called the National American Coptic Assembly. It was later denounced by mainstream Copts in Egypt, but it was too late to stop it going viral.”
Extremists everywhere you look.
All of this happened just days after another far-right ideologue tried to use the high stakes of the presidential race to blackmail the United States into supporting a disastrous war in the Middle East.
Bibi Netanyahu is a secularist, but his administration is heavily influenced by Israel's religious right, and he has cast the conflict over Iran's nuclear enrichment as part of the clash of civilizations, saying again and again that it's an existential threat to Israel's existence.
In the past weeks, Netanyahu has insisted that the United States lay out specific “red lines” that Iran couldn't cross without inviting American military action, and added the implied threat that if no such statement was forthcoming, Israel might embroil the whole region in chaos with a unilateral strike.
Netanyahu was playing a weak hand because he sensed he had to play it now. He knows that his leverage decreases dramatically after the election – especially if Obama wins – and was trying to push for an “end-game” in the standoff over Iranian enrichment.
Time magazine's Joe Klein said of the blackmail attempt, “I don’t think I’ve ever, in the forty years I’ve been doing this – and I’m trying to search my mind through history – have heard of another example of an American ally trying to push us into war as blatantly, and trying to influence an American election as blatantly as Bibi Netanyahu and the Likud party in Israel is doing right now. I think it’s absolutely outrageous and disgusting. It’s not a way that friends treat each other. And it is cynical and it is brazen.”