Bursting The Irvine Bubble: The Middle East Riots

If people rioted every time there was an idiotic, disrespectful and shameful video posted onto YouTube, we would just have rounded off the eighth World War. Since when did we start taking YouTube seriously, world? Yeah, I’m talking to you. When did you start using YouTube for more than learning how to fishtail-braid your hair, watch someone eat a golf ball or see a cat do anything? More importantly, why has one YouTube video been the cause for thousands of Middle Easterners to riot in the streets and get the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, killed?

50 people have died and hundreds have been injured in the Middle East because of one silly and blasphemous 14-minute trailer. I don’t understand. Yes, the clip, which is a trailer to a longer feature titled “The Innocence of Muslims,” is wildly offensive, but honestly, it’s just stupid. The acting is more than comical, the writing offends me as a writer and their shoddy makeup makes it seem like they asked governor Mitt Romney for tips on shading.
This isn’t the first offensive, anti-Islamic thing on the Internet, let alone on YouTube. There have been a number of clips on the popular site that expose hatred for a number of people, religious groups and organizations, including others that reveal the dislike for the Muslim faith.

Why was this clip the only video to trigger the death of Ambassador Stevens and his three colleagues in Libya? Why have thousands rioted in the streets of Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, Kuwait, Iraq, Sudan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Palestine, Afghanistan and Yemen?

President Barack Obama didn’t direct the film, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton didn’t write the screenplay and Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t star in it. Keep in mind, the YouTube channel where “Innoncence” was first posted, had clips from “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” prior to its big hit that has now reached over 14 million views. Is this really someone to take seriously?

A woman named Pamela Geller is someone to take seriously. She is the executive director of the American Freedoms Defense Initiative (AFDI) and Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), best known for her work against the Ground Zero mosque prior to its opening on the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attack.

Geller has been featured in The New York Times, The Daily Mail, an array of “Fox News” shows and even had a special on “60 Minutes.” She has written several articles that were published in news sources such as The Washington Times, The Guardian, “Fox News,” Israel National News and The American Thinker. She is also the author of “Stop the Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance,” which is described on Amazon as a “much-needed wake-up call about a sinister, subversive [Islamic] agenda that could do nothing less than destroy the United States — with unique instructions about how we can, and must, fight back now to defend our nation and our civilization.”

Personally, I find Geller to be much more of a threat to Islam than some punk from California with terrible eye for cinema. I’m not saying that people should have rioted and killed any Americans or non-Muslims when she first began to plant her anti-Islamic seed, but at least a reaction against her would have made a little more sense. So, where was all the fuss when she came into the picture in 2010?

I agree that “Innocence” is a disrespectful trailer that hints at an even worse full-feature film, but it’s not worth anyone’s life. Now, I hope I don’t offend any Swedish people by saying this, but I’ve never been fond of herring.

Cleo Tobbi is a fourth year literary journalism major. She can be reached at ctobbi@uci.edu