Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) is pretty hopping mad about President Barack Obama's speech to the United Nations, ostensibly because of the emphasis the president placed on the daffy and bigoted "Innocence of Muslims" video trailer that has been characterized, rightly or wrongly, as playing a role in the recent uptick of unrest across the Middle East, up to and including the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that claimed the life of Ambassador Chris Stevens. In a Facebook entry, West -- or whoever writes West's Facebook entries, anyway -- said that mentioning the video "is beneath the dignity and esteem of the Office of the President of the United States" and constitutes an "apology."
From there, however, West opts for a statement that's a bit over the top in terms of bloodthirsty weirdness:
My statement to the United Nations would have been, "The future does not belong to those who attack our Embassies and Consulates and kill our Ambassadors. The Angel of Death in the form of an American Bald Eagle will visit you and wreak havoc and destruction upon your existence."
The funny thing is that one has to imagine that West would not likely deign to appear at the United Nations for any reason, but if he did, that speech would definitely be well in keeping with the sort of bonkers rhetoric we've heard in that venue, from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez. (To say nothing of famous Libyan dictators.)
Meanwhile, Nazila Fathi has a piece up Tuesday in Foreign Policy's "Democracy Lab" blog, in which human rights activist Shirin Ebadi points out that a war with Iran "will stir nationalistic feelings and rally the people behind the government to defend the country. It will be catastrophic for the [Iranian] people, the country, and the region, but it will save Iran's rulers," and it will interrupt an "Iranian society" that is "moving along a democratic and secular path." Given the fact that the Libyan people took to the streets in support of Ambassador Stevens and the democratic path he was helping to open up, it is probably a bad idea to start invoking the "Angel of Death" and promising indiscriminate "havoc and destruction."
Broadly speaking, I agree with Rep. West that the role this dotty little video played in all of the intense anger has been largely overstated. But it doesn't cost us much to simply say that we, as a nation, do not agree with the obscene viewpoints expressed therein -- hopefully, we don't. (If West does agree with them, he should nut up and say so.) But it sort of doesn't help anyone to express a viewpoint that comes off as substantially more brutal-minded than the Ezekiel 25:17 recitative from "Pulp Fiction." Try, real hard, to be the shepherd, Ringo.
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