My title is a tweet posted by @Ssirgany.
But I don’t think the answer fits in a tweet, so I have moved here.
Deaths are usually the responsibility of those who kill. There are cases of self-defense, probably a “just war”, and certainly a few other exceptions, but mostly killing is wrong and those who kill are in the wrong. That is a truth that cannot be forgotten when asking who is responsible.
So what of the original question? The filmmakers or those who fan their flames? The filmmaker is clearly trying to cause trouble, but maybe can claim some ignorance of the consequences. But the filmmaker can also just get on with life. There is initiative and effort here: this a damming consideration.
Those on the ground who are fanning the flames are really promoting the film, they can see the result of their actions. But maybe are more following their noses and just doing what they always do, they are following a role they have played before, they are caught up in a larger dynamic.
And that is the larger problem: Only a damaged people can be so easily provoked to act so stupidly. The blame for this is centuries of dictators, corruption, and injustice.
This is sensitive territory, so let me get myself in trouble in my own culture, too: In the United States we have had angry people riot and burn their own neighborhoods. They were wrong to do that, it was against their own interests, and it happened because they were a damaged people. In the case of the US, there were centuries of vicious crimes of slavery and discrimination. Recently we have shown some recovery, but we are still working on it.
Responsibility really comes back to those who are so angry: they need to heal, those who are in countries that are seeing new freedoms need to work to build civil society, education, and a sense of justice that has the patience to stop and consider. Rage is a poor guide.
The satirical publication The Onion posted an image this week about which they claimed no one died. It was a pornographic cartoon that insulted Jews, Christians, Bhuddists, and Hindus. It was eagerly tweeted about in the west, and indeed, no one seems to have died. No one got upset. Possibly some still will get upset, but it seems pretty quiet.
In the west this violence looks tragic, but also silly. “Has the Islamic world been quiet for a few weeks? We just have to shake a new religious cartoon at them and watch them kill each other!” Like taunting a frustrated child, cruel and too easy.
Yes, it is wrong to stir up such trouble, but the Islamic world should seek the wisdom and poise to ignore stupidity. I fear it will take many years.
-kb, the Kent who admits he has a limited western perspective.