So, by noon yesterday I decided not to go on-line for the rest of the day.   In my regular gig (a public school science teacher), this can be hard to do.   Not only do I have to check district e-mail on a regular basis for communications, not only do I enter attendance and grades into an online system (ATLAS), but now I have two periods of a computer-based tutorial to monitor.

So, even if I wanted to do otherwise, every few minutes at Bullard I'm looking at some computer or other, most of which are connected to the web in some fashion.   But I just played a game of "let's pretend" with myself, that there wasn't anything else other than the district programs to use.   I didn't check my Hotmail or Gmail accounts, I didn't have a window open at any point to a news feed.

Why the programmed withdrawal from all things Web-derful?  Simply this:   I had read enough yesterday morning to know that, on the other side of the world, the merchants of terror had struck again at American interests, on the 11th anniversary of 9/11.    Apparently, some of the citizenry in the Mideast had once again allowed themselves to become the cat's paw of forces arranged in a struggle between the modern and medieval.   A supposed trailer for a "film", made in America and uploaded to YouTube (in some versions dubbed in Arabic) contained scenes that not only visually depicted Allah's Messenger (which in itself is blasphemous to Muslims), but implied that, ya know, ol' Mohammed wanted to get it on with moppets, fellas and other vaguely-defined critters....

So, this is where the thing just gets weird, in fact just plain "Psychotronic."  The alleged maker of this "film", who sounds as if he some sort of disenbodied pathogen ("Sam Bacile"), is no budding Lili Reifenstahl or Luis Buniel,  with a daring cinematic vision enlisted in behalf of some provocative ideology.   There isn't anything about this trailer that would demand a thoughtful response, and in fact if you didn't know the circumstances of its production you would be forgiven thinking that it is some sort of spoof.   It is an incoherent, amateurish stitching-together of various unfinished snippets of video that makes the most hastily-assembled "SyFy" channel original look like Citizen Kane.   It is as if Ed Wood was reborn, and suddenly was able to shake the very heart of the world with achingly sincere, but also sincerely awful dreck, the kind of movie that's, you know, "so bad that it's good."

And yet, somehow, what anyone in North America would instantly dismiss as drivel became, once dubbed into Arabic, a trigger for public protests in the Arab world for its clumsy attempt to take a dump on the memory of the Prophet.   No doubt the filmmaker intended to provoke such a response, but how anyone in the modern world could believe this parade of non-sequiturs, cheesy acting and non-existent production values should be intended as representative of the United States or its government is difficult to understand.

Oh.   Wait.   "The modern world."   Let's pause, and soak that in.   We aren't really dealing with people who live in the "modern world", are we?  Just because they have access to technology with a global reach, just because these Arabs can access YouTube, doesn't mean that they are part of the modern world.   Just because many Arabs occupy large urban areas doesn't mean that they are urbane, or worldly, or even civilized.   The alleged filmmaker has gone on record as being fiercely anti-Muslim, describing the existence of a faith tradition with a billion adherents as a "cancer".   But there's nothing in the Muslim religion that requires people to attack embassies, destroy property or kill the unarmed representatives of another country.   The problem is not that some people in the Mideast think that Muhammad is God's Prophet.   The problem is that many of the Arab peoples in that region who belong to that faith tradition are not its best representatives.   Many are in fact barbarians with a medieval view of the world, who have only recently embarked upon a project of representative government, and who seem to view the opportunity to participate in such a project as an exercise in populist payback.

That makes me sad.   The death of our people in Libya angers me.   The irony that some of the protests were provoked by an ineptly made "movie trailer" kicks me in the gut.   But that's not why I had to get off the Net yesterday.   I had to step back, I had to disengage because of the sheer fury I experienced when I learned of how this story had been seized upon in the presidential race in a desperate, but misguided attempt to change the narrative of the election.

Let's be clear.   The Republican nominee has the absolute right to have a policy debate with the White House on foreign policy in general, and with relations with countries in the Mideast in particular.   They can be even said to have a duty to outline where they might differ with the present Administration on policy.   But they do not have a right, they do not have a duty to first misinterpret events on the ground, and then stubbornly insist contrary to all evidence that their understanding of the situation is correct.   Mr. Romney, you are entitled to your own views (however weird) on what you think Mr. Obama really believes about America.   You are entitled to your own beliefs.  You are not, sir, entitled to your own set of facts.   Your stubborn decision to "double down" on a late-night press release that inaccurately cast the Administration as apologizing for America is simply wrong:  wrong for you, wrong for your party, wrong for America, and wrong for the citizens of the world, a world that all of us, like it or not, must share with other peoples.   To further state, as you and some of your surrogates have done, that the Obama Administration sympathizes with those who have murdered their own appointed representatives in the Mideast is not merely wrong, it is repulsive.

Many decent and responsible members of the Grand Old Party have had the good sense and moral fiber not to launch, much less defend a critique that is unsupported by the facts.   They have made it clear that they do not agree with the course that you have set for your campaign, and that while they may differ with the President on long-range policy, that they support the President and Secretary Clinton in terms of the local response to these sad events.   I do not for a moment believe that most Republicans would embrace your shameful rhetoric to in pursuit of some short-term gain.   They are my fellow Americans, and most of them are decent.  You, Mr. Romney, I'm beginning to have my doubts about.  As President, it is not enough for you to be the Chief Executive, to imagine that you are simply stepping into the role of the world's biggest and baddest CEO.   You are expected to be the Head of State and the leader of the free world, and you are expected to engage the entire world.    Your actions make it clear that you are not ready to assume those roles, and that Americans should think twice before putting you in any position that might affect the foreign policy or national security interests of this great country.

So, for the next 54 days, I'm making it my business to share that viewpoint with as many of my fellow citizens as possible.   This country can not afford a reckless view of the world that puts a campaign narrative ahead of the facts, that grinds common decency for humanity beneath the boot of an uninformed and delusional corporate philosophy of governance.

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