Just hours after President Obama is re-elected, the “anti-Islam” filmmaker is sentenced to prison
Blasphemy: the first order of business
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When the final results of the 2012 presidential race trickled in on the evening of November 6th, opponents of Barack Obama and his agenda were forced to accept them for what they were. The defeat was a crushing blow for many, but others – including friends and family of mine – were quick to jump back on their feet and declare that everything would be okay. “It’s not as if the sun won’t come up tomorrow,” I was told.
As anyone would expect, it did. The sun may have been shining bright, but an ominous darkness was still there. Just hours after President Obama delivered his victory speech to throngs of starry-eyed supporters overwhelmed by the thrill of four more years, the federal government wasted no time moving “forward”. Inside of a Los Angeles courthouse, Mark Basseley Youssef, the man behind the world-renowned internet clip “Innocence of Muslims”, was sentenced to a year in jail. His film, which mocked the prophet Mohammed and the religion of Islam through low-budget actors and a shoddy stage set, was initially fingered by the Obama Administration as the catalyst behind the September 11th assault on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya. This account was widely repudiated, but condemnations of the film still poured in from the president on down in the two weeks that followed. During that sideshow, Muslim outrage over what was seen as blasphemy boiled over and led to killings, bombings, riots, and pillaging all over the world.
The prosecutors who presided over the case stressed the verdict had nothing to do with the content of the film, instead they insisted it stemmed from “probation violations” authorities had discovered after one of Youssef’s aliases appeared in the credits. The Egyptian-born Coptic Christian was then questioned about his involvement when officers showed up at his home in the late hours of the night. Not long after that, an activist judge decided he was a “flight risk” and he was taken to jail. While Americans spent the next few weeks torn over watching the presidential debates and the World Series, Youssef remained in custody. Revelations even surfaced from the father of Tyrone Woods – one of the Navy SEALs murdered in Benghazi – that jail time for the filmmaker was promised to him by Secretary Clinton.
Let me be clear in saying that Youssef, who is also known as “Nakoula Basseley Nakoula”, is far from a model citizen. Having put that out there, his past non-violent misdeeds – a drug charge from the 1990s and a 2010 white-collar crime conviction – are not enough to justify the administration’s irrational and increasingly creepy behavior. Youssef’s arrest over a “probation violation” was accompanied by a massive effort on the part of Obama and his acolytes to console the “hurt” feelings of the Islamist hordes who ravaged cities and sucked dozens of bodies into the wake of their global temper tantrum. There is something horribly wrong with this picture because murder and terrorism won apologies while exercising the right to free speech won jail time.
I know: the judges, prosecutors, and spokesmen we are supposed to trust say the video had nothing to do with the decision. But even if we accept this suspicious case, it does little to make the situation less disturbing. Assuming the US Government simply felt “justice” needed to be carried out because Youssef lied to investigators and used an alias after committing a non-violent crime two years ago, was it really appropriate to do so while genocidal dictators, fanatical clerics, and violent mobs across the world were demanding the United States revise its freedom of speech laws and hand the filmmaker over for execution? If a “yes” can somehow be stated, another question arises. In a country with a president who has admitted – and even boasted of – using illicit drugs in the past and a Congress that aided and abetted, and then bailed out the banks who committed some of the worst financial crimes in history, what makes this case so pressing? Excuses are thrown around, but logic will draw the conclusion that a man is in jail because the government was unhappy with what he had been saying and needed something to justify the disintegration of a disastrous foreign policy. The probation violations that allegedly landed him there likely would never have been noticed if the administration was not so preoccupied with the film.
The fact that Youssef’s sentencing ushered in the first day of President Obama’s victory does not bode well for America’s foundational right to freedom of speech. Although it has gone over the heads of so many citizens who have other priorities in life, the filmmaker’s detainment is not the only thing that federal authorities have pushed through in the middle of the night. When 2011 was drawing to a close, President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, including Sections 1021 and 1022, which build off of legislation approved during the Bush years and give the military power to arbitrarily detain American citizens at home or abroad for as long as the government deems necessary. With the NDAA, trial and representation for anyone who falls under the category of a vague national security risk are things of the past. The American people are well accustomed to seeing the two political parties beating each other up endlessly, but this draconian measure has received strong support from both sides, Democrat and Republican alike, who claim that it keeps us safe and effectively fights terrorism.
And so, just like when this new law was passed, people were distracted the day after the election. The country was inundated with Obama’s victory celebration, Mitt Romney’s concession speech, and calls from establishment politicians that the time has come for “bipartisanship” while Youssef the infamous anti-Islam filmmaker was sucked into the bowels of a bloated justice system. Maybe he will be out in a year, or maybe he will be taken down by fellow inmates eager to collect on the cash rewards still being waved in the air by politicians and businessmen in Islamic countries. No one knows, but any reasonable person would know that this arrest and sentence were a sham that hurt America far more than dishonesty with a probation officer ever could.
We all can be relieved that the sun still comes up. Traffic still clogs the freeways each day, anxious consumers still mass outside of stores to buy new products like the iPhone 5. Reality shows and pop culture still light up our televisions at their scheduled times. Behind the scenes though, things are getting ever more shady and obscure. America is changing. The sunrise and events on November 7th not only brought morning, but mourning…so many people just haven’t realized it yet.