By Ben Barrack
In a very interesting take on SONY’s decision not to release The Interview, a movie that features the fictional assassination of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto refers to the controversy as a ‘sequel to Benghazi’. In so doing, Taranto inches closer to linking the Obama administration to the Benghazi video but still doesn’t go there.
The meatiest part of Taranto’s article comes at the end. Note the very logical conclusion he makes, that the State Department gave the green light to SONY to release the movie. As you read, consider that at the time the Innocence of Muslims video was produced, the man who produced it was a federal informant, as Shoebat.com reported.
What a strange sequel to Benghazi. In that case, Obama and the State Department denounced an amateur anti-Islam video production, “Innocence of Muslims,” that had sparked protests and riots in Cairo and other Arab capitals.
We noted at the time that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood was demanding that the U.S. government apologize for the film and prosecute the filmmaker and argued that Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should have responded with a vigorous defense of free expression. “Innocence of Muslims” was a product of an individual exercising that right; the best way to disavow it would have been to note that the U.S. government cannot control individual expression.
But now it seems the State Department green-lit a Hollywood movie at the request of a studio concerned about its political implications. Evidently the officials who did so misjudged those implications, but why in the world did they ever entertain the request in the first place? That they approved the scene means they could have disapproved it, so that they assumed the role of censor.
The incident also reinforces foreign expectations, like those of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2012, that the U.S. government is accountable for individual expression. All of which is a lot more disturbing than the loss-averse theater owners’ chickening out.
That’s two completely separate movies that burst on the international scene, dominating news cycles. One was a supposed trailer for a much longer production no one has seen and the other a major motion picture that is being pulled before it can be seen.
A common thread runs through both – an Obama administration connection.
Taranto makes another point in his last paragraph (in bold) that warrants further analysis. More specifically, what the incident reinforces is the agenda of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) “Istanbul Process”. The 57-member state body has one overarching objective and has for years. That objective is to get non-Muslim nations to criminalize speech critical of Islam, as Shoebat.com has explained in depth. In fact, agitators in Egypt aggressively used Innocence of Muslims for that very purpose, which Shoebat.com reported at the time.
A renewed push to implement the “Istanbul Process” was kicked off in that city on July 15, 2011 when then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – relying on the recently passed United Nations Resolution 16/18 as a basis for her speech – said:
In the United States, I will admit, there are people who still feel vulnerable or marginalized as a result of their religious beliefs. And we have seen how the incendiary actions of just a very few people, a handful in a country of nearly 300 million, can create wide ripples of intolerance. We also understand that, for 235 years, freedom of expression has been a universal right at the core of our democracy. So we are focused on promoting interfaith education and collaboration, enforcing antidiscrimination laws, protecting the rights of all people to worship as they choose, and to use some old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming, so that people don’t feel that they have the support to do what we abhor.
That is a relatively clear message. Clinton was arguing that the best way to achieve the results sought by the OIC was not through legal means, which necessarily means government involvement, which Americans will reject. However, if ‘peer pressure’ can be used to achieve what the government does not, it’s another way to skin the same cat.
The State Department obviously didn’t abhor a movie that depicted the assassination of Kim Jong Un, enough to shame SONY into not producing it.
However, SONY was shamed, intimidated (or both) into not releasing it.