As readers here might have learned by now, I tend to read pretty broadly across the political spectrum in an attempt to inform myself. That means that I peruse everything from right wing sites to their counterparts on the left fringes and a lot in between.
One of the main things that was bothering me yesterday is how both sides of the extremes seem to have a vested interest in using the demonstrations happening in the Middle East to convince us that the entire Muslim world is angry at us.
On the right it comes as no surprise that there are those who want us to see all Muslims as the great threat of our time. But in the political heat of a presidential election, even their slightly less rabid counterparts are intent on exploiting the recent protests to suggest that President Obama's more moderate approach has been a failure and that its time to "show some muscle" in this great battle with the angry hoard.
But we also see that the world view of some on the extreme left is dependent on the idea of an angry Muslim world. These are the folks that are wedded to the idea of US complicity in all that's wrong with the world. Muslim anger at the US becomes exhibit A to make their case.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm not denying that many Muslims are indeed angry at the US. Nor am I denying that our history in that part of the world justifies their anger.
What got to me yesterday was that I saw that anger being used as a political tool on both sides to make sweeping claims in an attempt to justify their pre-concieved positions. The reality on the ground in many of these countries is far more complex than that, as was exemplified by the photo spread of Libyan protesters I posted recently.
This morning I read some saner heads. For example, this diary at Daily Kos by Clay Claiborne (many thanks to commenter Bill for introducing me to his writing!) where he points out that 10 Libyans died trying to defend the US embassy. He also shared this wonderful video.
Also of interest to me was an article posted yesterday by Juan Cole in which he discusses some of the major differences between the situations in Libya and Egypt.
As I said in the photo diary I referred to above, I want to actually HEAR what people of the Muslim world are saying. I'm not suggesting that I'll agree with all of them. But I do think that its important for all of their voices to be heard. What really pisses me off is people using them to try to score political points.
UPDATE: I'd like to add this wonderful article by Jose Ramos-Horta - former President of East Timor and Nobel Peace Prize winner - to the "saner heads" category.
But the tragedy of Benghazi and riots in Yemen do not signal the end of the Arab Spring. Nor is it an indication of any “failed policies,” any more than it is justification for the shameful practice of political candidates in the US attempting to make points from a US Ambassador’s death.