This trailer for a film by Sam Bacile posted on YouTube has sparked an attack on the US consulate in Libya in which the US ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed along with information management officer Sean Smith and two other Americans whose names have yet to be revealed. The American embassy in Egypt was also attacked but without any causalties.
It’s a reminder that the divide between the West and the Muslim world is still huge and irreconcilable. The assumption that the Arab Spring would bring democracy and human rights to these countries is looking more and more naive. Instead it has given Muslim theocrats a great opportunity to seize power and turn rougue on whoever dares to insult their religion. Pretty soon might just end up thinking about the Mobarak and Khaddafi era as the good old days. Because democracy necessary lead to freedom and enlightenment – if it did it wouldn’t be democracy. It leads to wherever the voters takes it.
So where does this leave the West? I think we should stop trying to civilize the world and focus on our own security. Does this mean supporting democracy? No, not if it’s just a transition to theocracy. In that case we are better off with puppet dictators.
One comforting fact in this story is that YouTube has not removed the film. It’s extremely important not to give in to threats. Even if you believe that to be a morally acceptable option, history shows that most of the time people get punished and not rewarded for being submissive. Remember “Peace for our time”?