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Cutting through the anti-Muslim propaganda


Anti-American Protests: Cutting Through Media Propaganda

PROTESTS OVER the vile racist filmInnocence of Muslims that began outside U.S. diplomatic institutions in Egypt and Libya have spread across the world, from Bangladesh and India to Iran, Iraq and Morocco.
The mainstream media in the U.S., from Fox News to National Public Radio, have framed these protests through the simplistic lens of “anti-American violence in the Muslim world.” This framing communicates an entire world view that is taken for granted.
First, it discredits protest against the U.S. by painting the demonstrators as violent. This focus on the violence and on the sensational allows the media to conveniently skip over the complex reasons why people in the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa might be angry with the U.S.
This particular racist film–which portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a womanizer, a pedophile, a bumbling idiot, and a bloodthirsty fanatic and anti-Semite–is the tip of the iceberg. It has become a symbol of the disrespect with which the U.S. holds people in Muslim-majority countries, and it has brought to the fore deep-seated grievances over how the U.S. conducts itself in the Middle East and elsewhere. Yet this complexity is left out in favor of simplistic explanations and caricatures.
SPEAKING ABOUT the Libya attacks, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lamented: “I ask myself, how could this happen? How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction?”
Fully 11 years after the events of 9/11, the same question is being asked about why people in the Middle East might be angry with the U.S., and the same ridiculous explanations are on offer–it is a clash of values, a clash of civilizations.
In 2001, George Bush explained: “They hate…a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.”
A few days ago, Clinton said: “All over the world, every day, America’s diplomats and development experts risk their lives in the service of our country and our values, because they believe that the United States must be a force for peace and progress in the world, that these aspirations are worth striving and sacrificing for. Alongside our men and women in uniform, they represent the best traditions of a bold and generous nation.”
The difference between the two statements, it seems, is that the “clash of civilization” rhetoric has developed in these 11 years from a supposed hatred of our freedoms right here to a hatred of our soldiers and diplomats over there.

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