The evil of religious fanatics

GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney attacked President Obama for sympathizing with Islamic extremists after a mob in Libya killed the U.S. ambassador over a movie trailer that was deemed offensive to Muslims.

There are so many things wrong with the preceding paragraph.

1) The movie was some amateur job done by a scumbag in California who turns out to not be who he says he is. In fact, the full movie may not even exist.

In a telephone interview with The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, a man identifying himself as a 52-year-old real-estate developer in California, Sam Bacile, said he had made the film. Saying he was an Israeli-American who had created the film with the backing of Jewish donors, he described Islam as a “cancer.” One of the video clip’s promoters provided the name and contact details for a Sam Bacile, a name that matched the one on the account used to post the clip in July to Google Inc.’s YouTube.

Since that article was published, questions have emerged about the identity of the purported filmmaker. The Journal was unable to reach the man calling himself Mr. Bacile for further comment and as of Wednesday, the telephone number had been disconnected.

A records search turned up no references to any men in the U.S. by the name Sam Bacile. Israeli officials in the U.S. and Israel said they haven’t found any records of an Israeli by the name of Bacile.

2) Islamic extremists are crazy enough to kill people over a movie trailer. There is an ugliness to the core of religious fanatics that is a threat to every living person on the planet. (From John Cole):

The victory in the Libyan elections of nationalist rather than fundamentalist forces, and the rise to power in Egypt of the relatively moderate Muslim Brotherhood has marginalized the militant strain of Muslim activism, known coloquially as ‘jihadis’ because of their emphasis on vigilante violence. The vigilante fundamentalists were small but dangerous groups in Muammar Qaddafi’s Libya and in Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt, and both governments reacted by attacking them and arbitrarily imprisoning them.

The vigilante fundamentalists typically reject elections and democracy, as inauthentic Western imports, and they are headline whores, plotting out attention-grabbing mob actions. These jihadis are tiny groups in Egypt and Libya, though sometimes well-armed and well-trained.

You could make an analogy to the Ku Klux Klan in the United States, which just has perhaps 5,000 active members. But people like Wade Michael Page, who had applied for Klan membership, can make a media splash by simply shooting down people at e.g. a Sikh Temple.

3) President Obama never sympathized with the mob. That was a Romney lie. Mitt Romney made the statement after the murders occurred, though the statement he referred to came from one of the two U.S. embassies under siege before the mob attacked. The Embassy was trying to calm the crowd before it turned ugly, and Romney used that defensive move to score political points.

The reaction against Romney has been scathing (From Buzz Feed):

“They were just trying to score a cheap news cycle hit based on the embassy statement and now it’s just completely blown up,” said a very senior Republican foreign policy hand, who called the statement an “utter disaster” and a “Lehman moment” — a parallel to the moment when John McCain, amid the 2008 financial crisis, failed to come across as a steady leader.

He and other members of both parties cited the Romney campaign‘s recent dismissals of foreign policy’s relevance. One adviser dismissed the subject to BuzzFeed as a “shiny object,” while another told Politico that the subject was the “president’s turf,” drawing a rebuke from Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol.

“I guess we see now that it is because they’re incompetent at talking effectively about foreign policy,” said the Republican. “This is just unbelievable — when they decide to play on it they completely bungle it.”

Romney has not backed off the response — “It’s never too early for the United States government to condemn attacks on Americans and to defend our values,” he said Wednesday — but his campaign faces a near consensus in Republican foreign policy circles that, whatever the sentiment, Romney faltered badly.

Yes, you read that right. The criticisms are coming from Republicans. This was a massive screw up by Romney. He really doesn’t want to win this race.

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