09/13/2012 05:31 EDT | Updated 11/13/2012 05:12 EST

Blame Religion -- Not a Movie -- For Libyan Attack

While deploring the mob attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed the American ambassador to Libya, Foreign Secretary Hillary Clinton also seemed to be apologizing for the movie that provoked the outrage.

"The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others," she said.

Whether or not the American-made $5 million, two-hour movie, Innocence of Muslims, by Sam Bacile, who claimed to be an Israeli Jew but who is actually a Coptic Christian, was an "intentional effort to denigrate" Islam, the mob attacks in Benghazi and in neighbouring Egypt had that effect.

The actions of a rabid mob makes the majority of Muslims look bad.

American ambassador Chris Stevens -- a career diplomat rather than a political appointee -- and three embassy staff were killed in Benghazi, and is one of those things that make one wonder at well-intentioned policies that too often backfire.

America did all it could outside of actually invading, to help Libyans overthrow the nasty regime of Muhammar Gadhafi. And this is the thanks they get!

The U.S. also abandoned its longtime Egyptian ally, Hosni Mubarak, when the celebrated "Arab Spring" rebellions erupted across the Middle East in the name (but not the practice) of "democracy." Yet mobs in Cairo assaulted the U.S. Embassy.

No American was killed in the Egyptian onslaught that included desecrating the U.S. flag, but it gives pause to those who are optimistic about the Middle East and keep insisting that Islam is a religion of "peace."

Now there are outbursts in Yemen.

The 13-minute trailer of the controversial Innocence of Muslims film that provoked the violence, was rough on the Prophet Mohammed -- but so what? That's a hazard of freedom, democracy and tolerance.

Most of us deplore what artists (to pick on them) sometimes do with Christian symbols -- crucifixes immersed in urine displayed as "art," a Philippine "artist" creating a collage that includes Jesus with a wooden phallus glued to his head, a University of Oregon student newspaper showing Jesus kissing another man, both displaying erections. And so on.

Any mockery of the Prophet -- including the 2005 Danish cartoons that provoked riots around the world -- are tame compared to liberties taken with Christian symbols.

And yet Hillary seems to blame this low-budget movie for barbarism in Benghazi and Cairo -- a movie that is clearly more political than religious.

As for the depiction of Mohammed (praise be to him), anyone who examines his life finds abundant material for questioning. Check Google "myths of mohammed" for details.

An alleged al-Qaida group known as Ansar al-Sharia -- Sunni Muslims -- is believed to have instigated the mob attack in Benghazi, but left the scene once violence started. There are now concerns that mob violence may spread to Afghanistan.

One who seems supportive of the controversial movie is Florida pastor Terry Jones whose publicized plan to burn the Koran in 2010 resulted in riots in those parts of the world that routinely indulge in riots.

Few in America approve of Pastor Jones, but he's another hazard of a democratic society. Those who might blame him for the over-reaction on Muslim mobs, miss the point. He might be a nuisance, but he's not a menace.

What is it about the Islamic faith that invokes intolerance and violence? Peaceful religion indeed! Only, it seems, if you ignore its excesses or subscribe to its ideology.

That's neither freedom nor democracy. Violence tends to substantiate movie-maker Bacile's view that Islam is a "cancer" or, at least, facilitates cancerous behaviour.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this blog falsely stated that Sam Bacile was an Israeli Jew, when he is in fact a Coptic Christian.