it's certainly been fascinating to watch Nakoula morph into a right-wing hero within a matter of daysHe continues:
Initially, even the most zealous conservatives merely claimed that the Obama administration wasn't defending free speech strongly enough. The reasons were slightly obscure, but when pressed they usually said that a defense of free speech should have been in the first sentence of some statement or other, rather than the second. Or something. But they didn't actively defend Nakoula.That's because Nakoula hadn't been attacked yet. He didn't need defending until the FBI exposed him and he was shuffled off by a half-dozen armed men at midnight for "voluntary" questioning. As to why the Obama administration failed to protect free speech: no it wasn't the order of his sentences; it was his giving any credence at all to the idea that the filmmaker deserved some of the blame for the riots and murders. That was an unconscionable and cowardly act.
Not only was this done to deflect blame from the administration for their failures at foreign policy and at protecting their diplomats by pretending that these 9/11 riots were spontaneous and therefore unpredictable --on 9/11-- but also, blaming someone for crimes is often the first step in persecuting them. It gives the justification for sending the FBI to expose their identity and make little suggestions to the local sheriff like "Hey, how could he put a movie trailer on YouTube without violating the parole condition that says he can't touch the Internet, hmm?"
If Obama had said something like "I don't approve of that movie, but it does not in any way excuse the violence." then no one would have been criticizing him for throwing the First Amendment under the bus. But then there would have been no excuse to go after Nakoula, no pretext for the FBI to be investigating him at all.
This isn't rocket science, and frankly if it were Bush say, blaming Michael Moore for a Tea Party riot that broke out in protest of his latest work, no one would have to explain this to Kevin Drum. He would be at the front of the criticism comparing Bush to Hitler and probably, turning Moore into a hero. Because apparently Drum can only defend free speech for heroes.
Drum also deliberately misses the point of worrying about Nakoula's treatment:
But now he's a conservative martyr. Not because the Obama administration did anything to him, but because they can weave some kind of weird conspiracy theory linking probation officers in Los Angeles County to the White House.What difference does it make if the White House was involved? I don't need any conspiracy theory to think that when armed men descend at midnight on a home where the occupant is suddenly in grave danger of being murdered by terrorists, not to protect the person but to insist on dragging him downtown "voluntarily" through a hoard of photographers to ask him questions about a possible parole violation due to actions he took that embarrassed the President near an election, that someone is persecuting Nakoula for his speech, even if it is just the local sheriff doing so and goes no higher. And even if it is just the local sheriff, then it is still something that should not be tolerated in this country.
But is it just the local sheriff? The Obama-supporting press doesn't seem to think so. If they did, then why aren't they trying to figure out where this action originated from and clearing Obama of suspicion? Because despite Drum's predictable reference to a "weird conspiracy theory", there is a good reason to suspect White House involvement --namely the fact that it was the FBI that started this by investigating the film in the first place and by leaking Nakoula's name.
Since the press is protecting the anonymity of the leaker (unlike the anonymity of the man whose life is actually in danger), we don't know if the leaker was a political appointee or what his relationship to the White House is. Why would an apolitical civil servant have leaked that information, endangering a man's life, not to mention his family, and perhaps all Copts in Egypt? It makes no sense.
And given that the FBI started this investigation, is it really all that weird to wonder if someone in the FBI talked to local enforcement? We know that the FBI was investigating Nakoula. We know that they knew about his conviction and the time he spent in jail. Is it really all that weird to think that they may have talked to the local law enforcement officers who were involved in that?
And finally we get to the only thing in the article that could even be remotely viewed as justification for Drum's contention that the right is making a hero of Nakoula:
Within a heartbeat, Obama was Hitler and Nakoula was a "Christian filmmaker" who was being persecuted.See Nakoula is a Christian and a filmmaker, so when someone refers to him as a "Christian filmmaker", that is sort of like, making a, you know, hero out of him. Because everyone knows that being called a Christian filmmaker is high praise. Or something.
Still, as solid as this argument is, it would be even more solider if Drum could have come up with a quote from any significant conservative writer who actually called Nakoula a hero. Or said anything nice about him at all. Because everything I've read by conservatives either offers no judgment or calls him reckless and/or calls his film terrible. Sure would like to know who is idolizing him.
But Drum can't provide examples because there aren't any. Drum is just projecting his own partisanship onto others. If the situation were reversed and Bush were in the White House, Drum would, in fact, view anyone who cause trouble for Bush's reelection as a hero, for that reason alone. He doesn't understand that for conservatives, the bar for being a hero is a bit higher than just accidentally having a political impact that we view as favorable.