A World of Impostors

A World of Impostors

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SAN FRANCISCO--The week that brought real tragedy--the death of Americans and others in faraway places--also brought forward a parade of impostors. Foremost among them was a man in Southern California named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, an ex-con and an Egyptian Coptic Christian, who produced a tawdry little film defaming the Prophet Mohammed.

At first, Nakoula the Imposter claimed that the film, The Innocence of Muslims, was actually directed by an “Israeli-American” real estate broker named Sam Bacile. Bacile turned out to be a pseudonym for No One. So when reporters gathered at Nakoula’s house, the front door handle had been removed and Nakoula had gone into hiding.

The dangerous week began with undiplomatic bluster from the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. In Jerusalem, Netanyahu demanded of President Obama that he set distinct “red lines,” the violation of which would cause the United States to launch a military attack on Iran.

The pronouncement was apparently meant to embarrass the Obama White House for being “soft” on Iran and to advance the political future of Netanyahu’s friend, Mitt Romney. The pronouncement had the effect of casting the Israeli Prime Minister as a modern-day kingmaker—the President of Presidents—determining who should run the United States and how.

The Most Shadowy Imposters

The most shadowy imposters all week—the men whose names and whose possible organization we still do not know—were in the crowd the night the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was torched and Ambassador Chris Stevens and three staffers were killed. Security experts suspect a band of Jihadists.

The attackers were methodical; they cordoned off the streets. They wore flak-jackets and were heavily armed. These imposters moved among the rioters; but they were not rock-throwing teenagers. And their intent may have had more to do with the anniversary of September 11, than with a film that defamed the Prophet Mohammed.

In America, Mitt Romney, in a dark blue suit, speaking in front of American flags, displayed a lack of diplomatic sobriety at a time when America was under attack in the world. He criticized an operative in the American embassy in Cairo for a statement made before the embassy attack as if it had been made afterward. And he criticized the White House for apologizing to Muslims and for not saying forcefully that in America even a fool has the right of freedom of speech.

Romney tried to appear presidential, but impatient reporters quickly unmasked the impersonation.

And so it went. Riots spread across the Middle East and into Africa. There were warnings of possible attacks on Americans by terrorists. Both the campus of the University of Texas and the University of North Dakota were emptied after bomb threats. And all the while, the week was ruled by impostors.