Sam Bacile Fictional?

Sam Bacile Fictional? September 12, 2012

Shortly after I posted a piece that was critical of others who had lumped Terry Jones (and by extension, fairly or not, American evangelicals) into the fray over “The Innocence of Muslims” and the fury it awakened, a particularly astute reader (ahem, my brother) pointed to a new piece in The Atlantic suggesting that Sam Bacile may be a whiff of imagination, a “disinformation campaign” meant to conceal the true creators of the film and presumably protect them from any retribution.

Jeffrey Goldberg sought out Steve Klein, who has been cited in several sources as a consultant to the film, and Klein apparently described himself as a “militant Christian activist.”  Klein opines that Bacile is probably a pseudonym, that he did not appear Israeli, and may not even be Jewish.  Of the 15 people associated with the making of the film, Klein told Goldberg, “Nobody is anything but an active American citizen. They’re from Syria, Turkey, Pakistan, there are some that are from Egypt. Some are Copts but the vast majority are Evangelical.”

Wisely, Goldberg takes this with a grain of salt.  Of course, this too could be a misinformation campaign, designed to shield Bacile and Israel from blowback.  Who knows.  Part of me wants to joke, “Only Christians make movies this bad,” but I’m not sure if joking is appropriate here.

Klein does say that Terry Jones had nothing to do with it.  So that point stands, and the purpose of my earlier post was to ask why it was that everyone was rushing to swirl in the name of Terry Jones.  I think I was right to question how the Copts were getting condemned here, since the stories from leading news organizations indicated that the movie was conceived and financed by a group of Jews in America.  Even if it proves to be true that Copts were involved in making the film, that was not a justified conclusion on the basis of the information at the time.

But it sounds like the larger fact is that we really don’t know very much about the movie at all yet, and who stands behind it, and what their motives were.  If it was created by a bunch of evangelicals who essentially blamed it all on a “Jewish” filmmaker and donors, then that would be despicable.  If it was made with $5M, as alleged, it’s hard to see how that’s reflected in the production values.  And if there was a rush to condemn any group, evangelicals or Jews, then that’s wrong.

It should go without saying, of course, that the responsibility for the murder of the American ambassador is with the people who committed the murder.  “The Innocence of Muslims” was not, it seems to me, a wise use of freedom of speech, but of course that cannot justify murder at all, much less the wanton murder of people who had nothing to do with it in the first place.

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