Details emerging about that stupid video

The AP is getting credit for achieving what so many others have been striving to do the last couple of days — which is to sorta, kinda get some details on who seems to be responsible for the anti-Islam video that has sparked multiple anti-American protests:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal authorities have identified a Coptic Christian in southern California who is on probation after his conviction for financial crimes as the key figure behind the anti-Muslim film that ignited mob violence against U.S. embassies across the Mideast, a U.S. law enforcement official told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The official said authorities had concluded that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, was behind “Innocence of Muslims,” a film that denigrated Islam and the prophet Muhammad and sparked protests earlier this week in Egypt, Libya and most recently in Yemen. It was not immediately clear whether Nakoula was the target of a criminal investigation or part of the broader investigation into the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Libya during a terrorist attack…

Now a reasonable person would assume that at this point, some of those rioters would go, Ummm… It took America two days to even begin to get a clue about who produced this video, and it turns out he says he’s from Egypt. Maybe it’s just a TAD illogical for us to be blaming anyone who happens to be an American for this.

But no such luck, because logic has nothing to do with this.

33 thoughts on “Details emerging about that stupid video

  1. Brad

    That story reads like the info was just released by an official. But as I understand it, the modest AP tracked the guy down on its own, then just got the official to confirm that’s the guy the gummint is looking at, too. As Slate reported:

    “It looks like the Associated Press has solved the mystery of who was behind the anti-Islam film believed to have sparked this week’s violent protests at U.S. missions in Egypt, Libya, and throughout the Middle East.
    “That man is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a 55-year-old Coptic Christian with a criminal past who lives in California, according to the news wire’s digging, which has been backed up by a federal law enforcement official.”

  2. Brad

    The protesters might as well come after me because I, like Nakoula, am in my 50s.

    In fact, that’s actually a closer connection than the absurdity of blaming Americans qua Americans. Because this country and its citizens have zip to do with it. Beyond the fact that the maker of the video duped some actors in California into appearing on camera, before he went in and dubbed in new dialogue. The actors didn’t even know what they were doing had anything to do with the Prophet.

  3. Brad

    Sometimes I wonder whether someone’s been putting hallucinogens in the public water supply in the countries where these sorts of protests occur.

  4. Phillip

    All the time we see that people everywhere (including the US) believe what they are prone to believe, seizing on whatever “evidence” they think proves their belief, ignoring evidence to the contrary. In societies/cultures where open access to a diversity of information/ideas/opinions are either not easy to come by or whether the very idea of seeking such diversity of information is discouraged, it’s easy for mobs to grab onto whatever in order to “justify” anger that was already there in the first place.

    I think it’s also very difficult for many in these societies where the free exchange of ideas was NOT permitted for so long, to come to grasp with the American concept of free expression as we practice it in our country. They cannot imagine that a nation could freely allow the creation of speech (in print, video, etc.) that is “blasphemous” towards a religious belief without that nation or government endorsing or embracing such a view. It just does not compute to them. (Another reason why “South Park” is the embodiment of some extremely fundamental American values!)

    The sense of victimization, the conspiratorialist view of the world (75% of Egyptian Muslims believe that it was not Arabs who carried out the 9/11 attacks), this is going to take decades, and decades, to change. We have to find the opportunities within the challenges: perhaps bonds between a new Libyan government and the US may ultimately be strengthened out of the crisis of this tragedy.

    And once and for all, some reasonable solution must be found to the Palestinian question.

  5. `Kathryn Braun Fenner

    NPR just had a report from Egypt, where they say a majority are dismayed/disdainful of the protesters.

    We need to make distinctions about individuals, not broad categories. The video and the protesters are blaming everyone in a group for the actions of a few.

  6. Karen McLeod

    We see the ‘bad actors’ all the time in the media, because they are the most dramatic. There’s a good chance that few would be interested in news that was truly ‘fair and balanced.’

  7. Steven Davis II

    So not only is the US GIVING $1.6B to Egypt, we’re now apologizing to those who are killing our people over there. Obama spends more time apologizing than he does slapping ungrateful countries around. What we need to do is tell them to FO and take our money and use it where it’s needed here in the US. Obama is taking the playbook Jimmy Carter left in office… I hear it was found in the women’s bathroom at the Whitehouse.

  8. Brad

    Another thing that evokes for me the utter absurdity of these protesters blaming the U.S. for the thing that angers them… this headline from The Slatest: “The Man Behind the Film Causing Trouble in the Middle East is a Coptic Christian. What is that?”

    Most Americans not only share zero responsibility for the offensive video, but have no idea where the guy who produced it is coming from.

    He’s from THEIR part of the world, not ours. And his own particular demons are ones arising out of cultural references that are distinctly Egyptian, not American.

  9. Brad

    Oh, and Steven — who, precisely, is “apologizing” for what? I’d like to see some quotes that indicate that “we’re now apologizing.”

    This seems to be a persistent meme on the right these days, and I’m curious to know what it’s based on.

  10. Brad

    Years ago, I got to the point that I sort of gave up on understanding anyone who doesn’t appreciate that NPR is one of the best, most thorough, most professional news sources around. I often marvel at the depth and thoughtfulness of reports I hear on “Morning Edition” about news developments that broke during the night. They are very, very good. I think it was sometime in the late 80s that I decided they were as good as, or better than, the very best print outlets in this country. And that is really saying something, given that most broadcast sources at the time were so shallow, and newspapers still had extensive resources.

    I also have trouble understanding people who make up their minds which news sources they prefer based on their political leanings.

    Nowadays, my favorite daily news source is The Wall Street Journal. While I don’t see it as often, my second favorite in this country is probably The New York Times. And yet there are so many people who love one of those and hate the other, based upon politics.

    Another of my favorites — although I seldom see it now that the newspaper doesn’t pay for it for me — is The Economist. And I say that even though its news judgment is entirely guided by its editorial positions (the “leaders”), and it is a staunchly libertarian publication — which is as far as you can get from me.

    During my visit to England last year, I enjoyed a wide variety of papers, although I think the one I enjoyed the most was The Guardian — even though I would likely not be a “Guardian” sort of voter if I lived there.

    I just couldn’t care less about the political predilections of someone who is giving me good information, and presenting it well.

    For that matter, I generally enjoy the opinion writing in such publications, because they, too, tend to be thoughtful and well-presented — whether I agree with them or not (and probably at least half the time, I don’t).

    What I don’t like is a publication that is ham-handed and doesn’t seem conscious that there is a legitimate worldview other than its own. I often feel that way about Salon and Slate, for instance. Nor do I much appreciate National Review.

    On the other hand, I tend to enjoy “The New Republic” when I run across it. But then, any “liberal” publication that once employed Andrew Sullivan as its editor would have to be iconoclastic and thought-provoking. What I don’t like is publications that sound like they were written and/or edited by the before-prime-time speakers at the two political conventions.

  11. Brad

    Wow. That’s like a headline from the Bizarro planet.

    But it’s not just the headline. There is nothing at that link to disabuse the reader of forming an outrageously erroneous impression.

  12. Mark Stewart

    Why all this stooping to people behaving badly? It looks rampent on all sides. I’m glad tomorrow is for football. I need distance from all this junk.

  13. Barry

    I like NPR too – but if you don’t think a strong liberal bent comes through in a lot of their reporting – you aren’t paying attention.

    It’s just as often couched with “what they report on” as much as it is what they say in their reports.

  14. Brad

    Indeed, Barry, there is an entire show — “Tell Me More” — devoted largely to the concerns of Identity Politics.

    But I mainly listen to the news, especially Morning Edition. Then there’s The Takeaway, which technically isn’t NPR. Then, occasionally, I hear All Things Considered or Talk of the Nation, if I happen to be in my car at the time.

    And I often enjoy the extended interviews on Fresh Air when I’m driving home.

  15. Brad

    I occasionally even hear something on “Tell Me More” that interests me. But generally not.

    It’s very easy to change the station when I’m not interested. Just as I do when they’re talking about football or some such on commercial radio.

    Actually, though, I often keep listening when they talk sports on NPR, because they manage to make it interesting, rather than mind-numbingly boring.

    Same thing with the WSJ — they confine sports, appropriately, to the back page of a back section. Yet they generally make it interesting.

  16. Steven Davis II

    So if I understand you correctly, you first talk about how you don’t understand people who don’t agree that NPR is the best unbiased news source… then you go on to agree with Barry that NPR has a liberal slant to their reporting. Is this what you are saying?

  17. Scout

    So does being liberal mean giving the listener all the information on both sides of an issue and then respecting the listener enough to make up their own mind about the issue once they have the information? Because that is mostly what I hear happening on NPR.

    I listen to Morning Edition and All Things Considered often, and sometimes On Point or Talk Of The Nation or Fresh Aire, and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.

  18. Kathryn Fenner

    @SD II– If I parse your comment correctly, the answer is that I was listening while driving my car. I read the text if I am online. I read faster than they speak, so it’s faster that way.

  19. Herb

    It just occurred to me that we’re being a little condescending by referring to people abroad as being affected by hallucinogens in the water. I’ve heard so many conspiracy theories about Obama the past four years that at times I’m thinking it would be nice to live abroad.

  20. Brad

    Perhaps you’re right, Herb. Another way of looking at it is as one of the kinder things one might say about people who take to the streets so readily for the purpose of rioting. It’s not rational behavior. It’s rather mad.

  21. Steven Davis II

    @Kathryn – What??? The article I posted had an audio link? How do you read text when it’s an audio file?

  22. Karen McLeod

    Those are very angry people, most of whom dare not protest about their government (be it tribal or national); so they deflect their anger to something safer. In that area of the world nothing is safer than upholding the prophet’s honor.

  23. Brad

    Peace be upon him.

    I would call it “situational psychosis,” except the definition I just looked up says it’s transitory, which this is not.

    Reminds me of a notion I recall from college days — I think it was related to existential psychology, but I could be wrong — that insanity is a sane response to an insane world.

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