The PJ Tatler

The Monsters Are Due on Benghazi Avenue

Back in 1960, a time Jay Carney would say was a really, really long time ago, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone ran an episode called “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street.” I’ve linked the entire episode on Hulu for the benefit of our low-information liberal readers, who may not realize that history did not begin in 2008 and isn’t actually divided into Before Obama and After Obama epochs.

In “Monsters,” a brief roar and flash in the sky precipitate events in a normal neighborhood that build to a breaking point. They all suspect that someone among them is in fact a space alien sent to infiltrate and destroy humanity, and as the power fails and their civil order breaks down, they end up at each others’ throats. The episode is about the concept of the “scapegoat,” an “event, person or object that is used to lay the blame on for all that goes wrong,” according to the Urban Dictionary, linked and used here for the benefit of low-information liberals who mistrust the authority of Webster’s. Given the times in which it was originally broadcast, “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” was about the perils of McCarthyism.

But now that we know, from the acting ambassador to Libya himself, that the Benghazi attack was not precipitated by a movie — but the Obama administration from the top down blamed the movie and the man who made it despite knowing he was not to blame — it’s worth looking back at a few of the statements that those officials made at the time and for weeks afterward.

Hillary Clinton blamed the attack on one man and his movie on September 13, 2012.

I also want to take a moment to address the video circulating on the Internet that has led to these protests in a number of countries. Let me state very clearly – and I hope it is obvious – that the United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its content and message. America’s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. And as you know, we are home to people of all religions, many of whom came to this country seeking the right to exercise their own religion, including, of course, millions of Muslims. And we have the greatest respect for people of faith.

To us, to me personally, this video is disgusting and reprehensible. It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose: to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage.

White House spokesman Jay Carney, September 14:

We also need to understand that this is a fairly volatile situation and it is in response not to United States policy, not to obviously the administration, not to the American people.  It is in response to a video, a film that we have judged to be reprehensible and disgusting.  That in no way justifies any violent reaction to it, but this is not a case of protests directed at the United States writ large or at U.S. policy.  This is in response to a video that is offensive to Muslims.

Carney does not speak on his own initiative. He speaks on behalf of the president of the United States.

That same day, Secretary of State Clinton would again blame the movie and its producer, while she stood before the caskets of the slain.

This has been a difficult week for the State Department and for our country. We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful internet video that we had nothing do to with. It’s hard for the American people to make sense of that, because it is senseless, and it is totally unacceptable. The people of Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia, did not trade the tyranny of a dictator for the tyranny of a mob. Reasonable people and responsible leaders in these countries in these countries need to do everything they can to restore security and hold accountable those behind these violent acts. And we will, under the president’s leadership, keep taking steps to protect our personnel around the world.

On September 16, Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice would take five separate interviews to pound on the theme that the movie and its producer had caused a protest, which led to the attack, in Benghazi. “What sparked the violence was a very hateful video on the Internet. It was a reaction to a video that had nothing to do with the United States,” Rice said.

The Obama White House backed her to the hilt.

Liberals like Bill Press and Tim Wu piled on, questioning free speech while condemning Nakoula Nakoula as if with one voice. President Obama himself would condemn the movie on September 26th, in a speech before the entire world at the United Nations. In that speech Obama declared that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” There was a movie-making monster on Benghazi Avenue.

In “Monsters,” the neighbors’ paranoia leads to a tragic end. They blame a child. They commit murder. Chaos. Mayhem. Civil war. It’s at this point that we learn the truth: Actual aliens have instigated the confusion to demonstrate how humans will behave. “Understand the procedure now?” one alien says to the other while they watch Maple Street’s descent into madness. “Throw them into darkness for a few hours, and then just sit back and watch the pattern. … They pick the most dangerous enemy they can find. And it’s themselves.”

By comparison, Nakoula Nakoula should consider himself lucky. He has merely been imprisoned in the land-of-the-free United States of America for slandering the prophet of Islam. The Americans in Benghazi were far less fortunate.

But how about the rest of us? How should we treat the scapegoat, and the powers who goaded us to hate him?

Related: Hillary Clinton, From Watergate to Benghazi-gate