Oct 15, 2012
The attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi has entered the presidential campaign, with Republicans claiming the Obama administration should have known enough to prevent it, and the Administration saying they didn’t.
In fact, it’s not the issue – as both parties well know. The real question is why there has been such a large wave of demonstrations and attacks against the symbols of U.S. power since early September, starting with the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi up to today.
Provoking this wave was the scathing Islamaphobic film, presenting episodes in the life of an impoverished Mohammed as if he were bloodthirsty and sexually depraved. This short film, which is as stupid as it is provocative, was produced by a mysterious American-Egyptian Christian, convicted earlier of Internet fraud. And it was first circulated over the Internet by fundamentalist Christian groups in this country.
Since then, there have been revengeful declarations and calls for protest throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
So, why was there such a response to these calls? Why did thousands of demonstrators take to the streets burning effigies of Barack Obama and the American flag? Because there is plenty of resentment built up in all these countries. The populations are held in misery due to the plunder of their wealth by imperialist powers like the U.S. and by the local bourgeoisies who ally with them. Millions of people face violence in their everyday life with the wars, the misery and the famines. These countries have been utilized like reserves of wealth for the profits of Wall Street. This creates deep hatred and desperate reactions.
But the Islamic fundamentalists at the head of various countries are not calling on their populations to fight against that situation. Rather, the Islamic fundamentalists are focusing attention only on the film to avoid the real issue. The fundamentalists’ “defense of religion” is a way for them to increase their power. They impose medieval rules not only against women, but also against workers, against unemployed youth, against the millions of poor who are frustrated by the worsening of the social situation. Directing the anger of the population against the film is aimed at preventing them from turning their anger against their own exploiters. And the governing parties, including the Islamic parties, are the direct agents of these national exploiters, when they are not also the direct agents of the imperialist interest that they pretend to oppose.
The Christian fundamentalists who pushed the anti-Islamic film would act in exactly the same way if they were in positions of power in this country. Even as a small minority, they push the same reactionary ideas as the official Islamic fundamentalists, and they direct their threats just as much against women, trade unionists and workers’ rights to organize. And their reactionary campaigns serve to obscure for some workers in this country their own material interests.