Enemies are often allies beneath the skin.
In the wake of the recent murder of Americans in Libya, the demonstrations in Cairo, and the growing unrest in other Islamic countries, the truth of this is becoming clear.
As I write, there doubts have emerged about links betweenthe killings in Libya and the “film” that has made the rounds on the web thatinsults Islam. The events in Cairo seem a direct response to it, as do the spreading demonstrations.
More revolting: the makers of the film may have intended to invoke this reaction.
Why? One can only speculate, but speculation isn’t hard in this case: the image of mobs of Muslims attacking U.S. citizens and property plays into the image of Islam as a religion of intolerance and hate. Rather than the film saying anything directly, it invokes a response that is far more effective in making the case than the film itself.
So, radical Christians vs. radical Islamicists, right?
The more I think about it, the less I think that’s the way we should see it.
One of the revelations I had in taking online courses from Johan Galtung, the father of peace studies, is that mistakes in analyzing conflicts often start even before they begin through faulty framing. We become habituated to seeing the usual battle lines: Christian/Islam, West/East, First World/Third World, religion/science, black/white, pro-choice/pro-life, female/male, capital/labor, etc., etc., etc.
But lots of these apparent dichotomies break down under inspection. The apparent antagonists are often partners (perhaps unwittingly and unknowingly). The true conflict is not between characters cast in these melodramas. Rather, the conflict is between those who profit from the conflict’s continuance, and those who don’t (who nearly always outnumber the profiteers many, many fold).
In this case, those making this risible “movie” and those who champion jihad against the U.S. are partners and allies. Only in an utterly superficial and meaningless way are they on different sides. Both sides pray to the same god.
That god’s name is hate.
These folks profit—politically, economically, socially, and/or psychologically—from the conflict. They work in tandem to keep the hate machine cranking, a reciprocating mechanism of misanthropy, pushing and pulling themselves (and, if they can, the rest of us) toward conflict.
The makers of this film and those who led the demonstrations are collaborators, as are their sympathizers, enablers, and followers. They are on one side. The rest of us are on the other—Christians, Muslims, agnostics, atheists, Americans, Libyans, Egyptians—all of us who don’t profit from, and hence don’t buy into, this faux conflict.
The bad news is that reframing this conflict in our individual minds, let alone the public consciousness, is difficult work—such is the power of dominant narratives.
The good news? Once we reframe the conflict—once we see who is truly on one side and who is on the other—the conflict dissolves. We win. Like vampires, conflict profiteers crumble into irrelevant nothingness when exposed to sunlight.
There’s more to think on about all this. I’ll share some additional ponderings about it in this space shortly.