Freedom of expression has two prerequisites: (1) Freedom from government censorship or coercion. (2) People who want to express their own ideas, and not act as mere stooges or claques for the government. Thankfully, we still have some of these people, but do we have enough?
The movie that never was.
Most people who have not been living in a cave, and even some who have, know that our embassy in Cairo was attacked on 9/11/12, and our flag burned and replaced by the Al Qaeda flag. And they know that our consulate in Benghazi was overrun and burned, and four Americans were killed. They were Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who may have been tortured; his aide, Sean Smith; and two security officers who were former SEALs, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.
Note that few articles in the mainstream media mention the last three names, as if they were insignificant. And note that even fewer refer to the raging controversy over why there was no rescue attempt. Don’t tell me that the chief aim of the mainstream media is to attract an audience. If this were so, Benghazi and its fallout would be on page one. No, the media’s chief aim is to advance a leftist agenda and get Barack Obama reelected. Making money, or even staying in business, is their secondary aim.
The point is that repeated calls for help from Benghazi were ignored. We hope that eventually, probably after the election, the truth will come out. And when it does, we will deal with those responsible.
President Obama and his top advisors live in a fantasy world, one where Al Qaeda has been vanquished, the world is safe for Americans, the “Arab spring” ushered in an era of freedom, and we can depend on Libyans to protect our diplomatic personnel. But it is one thing for them to live in that fantasy world. It is quite another to force our diplomatic personnel to live in that fantasy world – even if it kills them.
For two weeks, the president, Secretary Clinton, and UN ambassador Rice repeatedly blamed the attack on a brief, amateur YouTube video that supposedly was a trailer for a movie that purportedly insults Islam. But does the movie exist? Who has seen it? All we know is that the brief video exists.
The video was produced by a truly despicable man. He first claimed to be a Jewish American real-estate developer who was funded by rich Jews. If this lie had been believed, it would have incited homicidal anti-Semitism in Muslim lands. But soon it was revealed that the man was in fact a Coptic Christian of Egyptian origin. The source of his funding remains obscure. The man has operated under a variety of aliases, and is on parole on federal charges of bank fraud.
Obviously, this man is a colossal jerk. But if being a jerk were a crime, the prisons would overflow, and finding a parking place would be a lot easier. The man is in jail, but not for being a jerk. He was arrested on charges of violating his parole. The media cannot agree on whether he did so by using the Internet, or by using an alias. He will remain in jail at least until a bail hearing, which is scheduled for (surprise!) just after the election. Many suspect that the arrest was carried out under pressure from (surprise!) the White House. Secretary Clinton went so far as to tell the father of slain former SEAL Tyrone Woods that this was the case.
The world sees that America arrested the producer for making a video that insulted Muhammad. No matter what the legal technicalities of the parole may be, by arresting the video producer so soon after the Cairo and Benghazi attacks, we told the world very clearly that we value the feelings of Muslim extremists more that we value our own freedom of expression.
But what precedent does this establish? If a movie, a TV program, a book, a magazine, a newspaper article, an Internet post, or a YouTube video is followed by violence anywhere in the world, do we now blame the author, not the violent mob? This can work both ways. What if a group objects to a pro-Obama TV show? What if they object so strongly that they set the TV station on fire? Must we arrest the producer of the show, and let the arsonists go free? Oh, wait, I almost forgot. This shameful rule applies only when extremist Muslims claim to be offended. My mistake.
By punishing free expression, we violated the Constitution – the actual Constitution, the written Constitution. But probably we did not violate the “living” Constitution – you know, the one that has no fixed meaning, and certainly not the meaning that its authors intended – the one that must be interpreted according to “evolving social norms,” and even with regard for “foreign laws and customs.” That’s the Constitution which recently appointed Supreme Court justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, and their liberal colleagues, believe in.
So when we complain that arresting the video producer signals the world that we are abandoning the First Amendment in a vain attempt to appease the rage of extremist Muslims, in effect we will be asked, “What First Amendment?”
And we must reply: Our First Amendment, you bloody fools! Now get the hell out and make room for people who respect their oath of office. Make room for people who really mean it when they swear to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Make room for people who take deadly seriously their obligation to protect American lives.
The TV movie that does exist.
The National Geographic Channel plans to broadcast two days before the election a made-for-TV movie entitled “SEAL Team Six.” The movie will deal with the mission that resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden. It is produced by Harvey Weinstein, a prominent Obama contributor. Well, that’s politics.
The problem is that reportedly the National Geographic Channel is pressuring Weinstein to edit down the segments that exaggerate the role of President Obama – and edit out a fabricated segment that falsely shows Governor Romney opposing the raid. Moreover, a group of former intelligence officers and Special Operations personnel object strenuously to the movie and its timing, and are frank to say so.
The theatrical movie on the killing of Bin Laden, “Zero Dark Thirty,” is directed by Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow, who directed “The Hurt Locker.” She demonstrates real empathy for our military. I await that movie with eager anticipation, but it will be released after the election. Weinstein’s made-for-TV movie is apparently a rush job and intended to be a propaganda piece.
When the government and the media get in bed together, it’s the truth that gets buggered. That is a step toward totalitarianism. When the administration causes the jailing of a video producer – no matter how sleazy he may be – for political purposes, that is another step. True, totalitarianism is still far away. But it is two steps closer than it was before the Benghazi attack. Next time you go to the movies, watch TV, listen to talk radio, or go on the Internet, think about that. And on Election Day, consider it well.
In the end, the important thing is loyalty – loyalty to your principles, as embodied in the Constitution, and loyalty to your people, as exemplified by “Leave no man behind.” If you lack loyalty, I don’t care if you sweep the floor at Wal-Mart or sit in the Oval Office – I have no use for you at all.
Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.