Brother Bigot

Kevin Drum has noted a development that’s happened so quickly it’s hard to comprehend: many conservatives have gone from yelling about Barack Obama not defending “American values” by failing to champion the free speech rights of anti-Islamic bigots, to a completely gratuitous solidarity with anti-Islamic bigots, indeed the very ones that have caused so much unecessary trouble for the United States during the last week. He calls it the “The Remarkable Martyrization of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula:”

[I]t’s certainly been fascinating to watch Nakoula morph into a right-wing hero within a matter of days. 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.

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. Within a heartbeat, Obama was Hitler and Nakoula was a “Christian filmmaker” who was being persecuted.

If you’ve exposed yourself to even a few moments of Innocence of Muslims, you are probably aware that Nakoula is a nasty piece of work with about as much artistry as a child drawing with stick figures, and as much to say as your average Klansman. It says a great deal that anyone this side of the deep Islamophobic fever swamps would have anything good to say about this man. If Nakoula is a “Christian filmmaker,” the word “Christian” really has lost any connection with the Prince of Peace.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.