The Innocence of Muslims and the guilt of fools

Shame on you Ms. Hudson.

“Makers of Islam film trailer deserve some blame for violence” is the title of an editorial comment written by The Gateway‘s April Hudson. I don’t normally respond to campus newspaper editorials, but in this case I am going to make an exception. Hudson manages to pay lip service to freedom of speech while claiming that the filmmakers responsible for the Innocence of Muslims were vital in causing the deaths of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Hudson describes a “pseudo-North American radicalism that has developed as an answer to the notion of radical Islam,” a feature of which is freedom of speech. What does she mean by her use of pseudo? A false North America or a false species of radicalism? Later, she refers to Western radicalism, “Western” being one of the most contested terms–geographically and culturally–in the social sciences. No matter. It is clear that she uses the term pejoratively, contrasting Canada’s restrictions on hate speech with our apparently racist neighbor to the south.

“Speech incites actions,” writes Hudson, and though there is no “justification for extremist violence,” we should behave appropriately to avoid poking the sleeping bear. If speech does incite actions, I am far more concerned about this particular editor’s speech than anything in an anti-Islam video. Hudson dismisses freedom of speech early on in her plea for cultural sensitivity. How tedious it must be to constantly be faced with such a radical ideal, when there are so many other exciting ideals to strive for, like blasphemy.

I have no sympathy for thugs, regardless of their motivations and I won’t be cowed by those who want me to live by their particular brand of theocratic Islāmic fundamentalist totalitarianism. It’s intellectually lazy and morally irresponsible to suggest that the Innocence of Muslims has “no right to exist” or that its filmmakers must take some of the blame for murder, which by all accounts appears to have been pre-planned and executed in response to the death of Abu Yaya al-Libi.

In the unlikely event that the Benghazi attack turns out to have been motivated by the film, my response will remain the same. The cultural sensitivity advocated by the author is nothing more than a transparent attack on freedom of expression. This sort of cultural suicide is genuine Islamophobia wrapped in the soothing baby-talk of appeasement. Freedom of expression is a fragile right, and it must be constantly defended, regardless of how boring it must seem to those of us who forget the lessons of history. We need more blasphemy, not less.