When I got to the office, I went onto a news web site and read that the ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, and three other embassy personnel were killed in an attack by militants on the embassy in Benghazi.
I had read about the crowd that had scaled the embassy walls at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt the day before in protest of a film supposedly being made in the United States insulting the prophet Muhammed, but what happened in Libya took it to a whole new level.
Now, in the wake of the Libyan attack, further riots have taken place in Muslim countries throughout the Middle East.
When I read about the attack on the Libyan embassy on Wednesday morning, I have to admit I felt an incandescent rage. Here was a clear cut example of people committing murder in the name of religion. It filled me with a desire to see Muslim people get hurt in retaliation. "Why not fire missiles from Predator drones at crowds of crazy religious fanatics as they protest outside of our Middle East embassies? It would teach them a lesson."
As an atheist, I can't understand how people can get so violent over religion. I suspect that less than 1% of the Muslims rioting over the movie has even seen the trailer. All they likely know is that someone in America made such a blasphemous film, which means in their eyes that all Americans are responsible for it. Evidently, they don't understand the concept of free expression that we have in this country, a right that applies to American Muslims as well. If they had not rioted and gone crazy, I doubt I would have ever heard of this movie, which by all accounts is a cheap and shoddy piece of crap.
After my anger had abated somewhat and I got to thinking about it some more, I recalled an episode from the original Star Trek series titled Day Of The Dove. In the episode, the crew of the Enterprise find themselves locked in perpetual combat with a band of Klingons on the ship, unknowingly goaded on in their hostilities by an entity that draws strength and nourishment from hatred and violence. Below is a clip from the episode where Captain Kirk tried to convince the leader of the Klingons that they are all being manipulated to fight each other by the alien entity.
Eventually, the Enterprise crew and the Klingons drive the entity off the ship with laughter. If only life were that simple, but hey, it's a television show.
The lesson that can be drawn from the episode though is that there are forces at work in our world constantly trying to manipulate us. Of course, I'm not talking about aliens, demons or supernatural forces. Such things are not necessary, when simple human malevolence will do. There are groups of people in the Muslim world who want to harness hatred towards the United States, Israel, "the West," or just non-Muslims in general, so they seek to push the emotional buttons of their fellow brethren to urge them to violence. Likewise, there are groups of people who seek to manipulate us to hate all Muslims and support violence against them. Thus, we find ourselves all locked into a cycle of animosity and death.
Hatred is a monster that requires constant feeding. Some people are happy to feed the Hate Monster willingly, while the rest of us feed it without realizing it. Tragically, knowing that the Hate Monster is real is not enough to stop most of us from feeding it. It is difficult to resist the temptation to think that if we just punish the "bad guys" hard enough, they'll cower in fear and no longer be able or willing to try and hurt us anymore. But even if by chance it works, there will always be some other group of people who will fill the role of the enemy who must be fought, guaranteeing the Hate Monster with an endless supply of food.
I don't claim to have the solution to all of this. All I can do is diagnose the sickness.