Backlash from hate-filled Youtube videos can have a global effect
Published: Monday, September 17, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2012 21:09
When I first read about this developing story, I had to read the article over again. Nothing about it made any sense.
The story of chaos spreading across the Middle East went viral after a 14-minute trailer from a low-budget American film called “Innocence of Muslims” depicted the Prophet Mohammed in a demeaning and perverse light.
Muslim extremists took to the streets and attacked U.S. Embassies in various Muslim countries, such as Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen, with the most deadly attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya. Four Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, were killed.
The incredible aspect of this story is not the Christian right-wing extremists behind the production or the Rev. Terry Jones promoting the film. The same Jones had threatened to burn the Koran in Florida, sparking deadly riots in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011.
The surpise element of the story also does not come from the film’s creator Sam Bacilie, who, according to ABC News, does not have any records proving his existence.
The jaw-dropping aspect of this explosive story lies in the fact that this upheaval of violence by some in the Muslim world was triggered by a trivial, tacky, poorly acted film, promoted by Christian extremists.
This seemingly inconsequential posting of a random movie trailer, despite its tasteless narrative, reveals how easily extremists from both Christian and Muslim worlds can flip global politics on its head. This unfortunate series of events seems to show that any nut job, anywhere in the world with access to a cheap video camera and internet connection, can potentially ignite an international conflict.
The violent reaction to the movie trailer reveals how the speed and global connectivity of YouTube and the Internet enables anyone in the world, despite how irrational or bigoted their views may be, to stir emotions that are strong enough to rock the international community.
World leaders, diplomats and citizens of the world are left scratching their heads in utter disbelief, wondering how a random clip of viral video has left four Americans dead.
The violence and protests are not from any U.S. diplomatic misstep or a perceived militaristic maneuvering by the U.S. in the Middle East or a U.S. foreign policy blunder. Yet, America still finds itself in the midst of a very real foreign policy disaster.
Worse yet, it was something that the U.S. could not have foreseen or prevented.
Despite the U.S. and others in the Arab world’s best efforts to reach a peaceful relationship, much progress is now eroding due to the simple uploading of a YouTube video.
If the Arab Spring was the best example of the way in which technology, the Internet and global cohesiveness can be used towards the collective good, the current situation in the Middle East is clearly the opposite of such a notion.
This is a wake-up call of how even the most fickle and ridiculous YouTube clip can not only result in international conflict but also possibly change the face of foreign policy for the U.S. and the rest of the world forever.
Adam Collins is a senior political science major and a contributing writer for the Daily 49er.