Thursday, September 20, 2012

Glenn Greenwald on the stories around the Benghazi attack on the American consulate last week

I mentioned in a couple of posts (here and here) the discrepancy between some of the reporting from McClatchy and the claims of the Libyan government, on the one hand, and the insistent position of the Obama Administration on the other, over how the deadly attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya began.

Glenn Greenwald talks about these discrepancies in Obama officials' spin on Benghazi attack mirrors Bin Laden raid untruths Guardian 09/20/2012, The Administration seems to be walking back their claims that the attack was not pre-planned and that it was an escalation of a protest over the "Innocence of Muslims" film. Glenn makes his own speculations about why the White House would want to spin the story that way. One is avoiding the impression that his Administration had taken insufficient security precautions around the consulate in Benghazi. Another is wanting to avoid calling attention to what a mess Libya is right now, which might tarnish the Administration's claim that the US intervention in Libya was such a positive thing.

But another fits with the larger narrative of the US posture toward the Muslim world:

... the claim that this attack was just about anger over an anti-Muhammad video completely absolves the US government of any responsibility or even role in provoking the anti-American rage driving it. After all, if the violence that erupted in that region is driven only by anger over some independent film about Muhammad, then no rational person would blame the US government for it, and there could be no suggestion that its actions in the region - things like this, and this, and this, and this - had any role to play.

The White House capitalized on the strong desire to believe this falsehood: it's deeply satisfying to point over there at those Muslims and scorn their primitive religious violence, while ignoring the massive amounts of violence to which one's own country continuously subjects them. It's much more fun and self-affirming to scoff: "can you believe those Muslims are so primitive that they killed our ambassador over a film?" than it is to acknowledge: "our country and its allies have continually bombed, killed, invaded, and occupied their countries and supported their tyrants."

It is always more enjoyable to scorn the acts of the Other Side than it is to acknowledge the bad acts of one's own. That's the self-loving mindset that enables the New York Times to write an entire editorial today purporting to analyze Muslim rage without once mentioning the numerous acts of American violence aimed at them (much of which the Times editorial page supports). Falsely claiming that the Benghazi attacks were about this film perfectly flattered those jingoistic prejudices. [my emphasis]
This is a consistent failing of our government, our political elites and the press that events like the Muslim protests against the US over the last week including the Benghazi attacks are treated as events confined within a short time horizon. As I said myself in an earlier post, it's hard to imagine that people in Muslim countries would blame the United States and the US government for some two-bit propaganda hate film against Islam done by private parties if there weren't broader anger at the United States on other grounds. It doesn't mean that those other grounds are necessarily justified or rational. But not being aware of them leaves people with the "Why do they hate us?" question.

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