Salisbury Press

Thursday, June 4, 2020


Wednesday, September 19, 2012 by The Press in Opinion

Remember the mission while mourning fallen American diplomats in Libya

While I am a staunch supporter of the First Amendment and the original purpose of implementing limitations and barriers on the government in suppressing speech, I also feel we, as individuals, ought to have some self-restraint and common sense when we express our views.

A controversial video titled "Innocence of Muslims" incited protests beginning Sept. 11 which resulted in the tragic death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, Information Management Officer Sean Smith and security personnel Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

For me, there is a fine line to walk in defending the filmmaker's right to put out a movie of this sort and condemning the message the movie is sending because it is offensive and does not represent the common mindset of the American people.

Terry Jones, pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center, who helped distribute this film, said, "The film is not intended to insult the Muslim community, but it is intended to reveal truths about Muhammad that are possibly not widely known."

Now where he, or anyone else for that matter, ascertained these truths and why they are relevant elude me.

What I do know is four Americans have died and several of our embassies around the world have experienced violence in the wake of this outrageous situation.

The embassy compound in Tunis, Tunisia, was breached by demonstrators causing damage to the exterior of the building and some vehicles. There was also extensive damage to an American school, making it unusable, according to Victoria Nuland, a press spokesperson for the State Department.

Protests in Sana'a, Yemen, resulted in a breach of the compound wall with exterior damage to buildings, windows and vehicles.

Khartoum, Sudan, saw protests occur with minor clashes between protestors and Sudanese security forces.

All of these problems, from Benghazi to Egypt, from a silly movie no American in their right mind would even care about?

There comes a time when all people must realize the dangers of thinking we actually have knowledge on a subject because we listen to tidbits of information, single lines of speeches and, yes, YouTube videos.

"These protests, as we've seen, are of 500 people, a couple thousand people. They are a tiny minority of the populations of millions that we are dealing with here. All of these governments have responded overwhelmingly positively in helping us ultimately to restore security," Nuland said.

The relatively small number of people who are causing these conflicts are no more representative of all Muslims or all citizens of these countries than religious extremists like Pastor Jones are of you and I.

As for the protesters themselves, I support their right to peaceably express their opposition to anything they choose. I, as many of our leaders and others around the world have expressed, explicitly condemn the turn of any protest to a violent action destroying property, instilling fear in people and harming others in the name of any cause.

While this video may have been disrespectful to the followers of Islam, a Muslim friend I met in college said, "Allah tells us in the Quran that the killing of an innocent is as if you have killed all of humanity" as he expressed his condemnation of the murders of our citizens.

While I have never read the Quran, I find it interesting Thomas Jefferson's copy can be found in the Library of Congress archives.

Let us take a moment to honor Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty while we remember their mission was one of peace and understanding.

Tyler D.


editorial assistant

East Penn Press

Salisbury Press