On Wednesday I wrote a diary about the fake "God/Jerusalem" controversy at the DNC convention, sparked by rightwing bloggers and covered excellently by Slate.com, and compared it to the shitty video that sparked outrage in the Middle East.
Slate.com recently had a great article up titled: "The Age of Trolling--How a small band of conservatives generated half of the Democratic Convention’s headlines.". It goes into detail about how online trolling set the pace for generating faux outrage and controversy for headline-fodderNow that Sean Hannity and others have taken Cairo and Libya as cause for another War Against Islam, it's worth noting how the trolls are trying to troll America--again. [watch the embed link to see Hannity refer to himself in the 3rd person while yelling at John McCain for disagreeing]
Produced and promoted by a strange collection of rightwing Christian evangelicals and exiled Egyptian Copts, the trailer was created with the intention of both destabilizing post-Mubarak Egypt and roiling the US presidential election. As a consultant for the film named Steve Klein said: "We went into this knowing this was probably going to happen.""Trolling" is an appropriate term, given the attempts at anonymity, complete foolishness and lack of facts or organization, and the extremism involved. Internet trolls often represent extreme viewpoints (hence the over-representation of racist internet trolls in race threads post-trayvon martin this year a la George Zimmerman fanboys). Usually, trolling accomplishes little, but occasionally it can make DNC headlines, or start regional conflicts apparently.
The Associated Press's initial report on the trailer – an amateurish, practically unwatchable production called The Innocence of Muslims – identified a mysterious character, "Sam Bacile", as its producer. Bacile told the Associated Press that he was a Jewish Israeli real estate developer living in California. He said that he raised $5m for the production of the film from "100 Jewish donors", an unusual claim echoing Protocols of the Elders of Zion-style fantasies. Unfortunately, the extensive history of Israeli and ultra-Zionist funding and promotion of Islamophobic propaganda in the United States provided Bacile's remarkable statement with the ring of truth.
Who was Bacile? The Israeli government could not confirm his citizenship, and for a full day, no journalist was able to determine whether he existed or not. After being duped by Bacile, AP traced his address to the home of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a militant Coptic separatist and felon convicted of check fraud. On September 13, US law enforcement officials confirmed that "Sam Bacile" was an alias Nakoula used to advance his various scams, which apparently included the production of The Innocence of Muslims.
Before Nakoula was unmasked, the only person to publicly claim any role in the film was Klein, an insurance salesman and Vietnam veteran from Hemet, California, who emerged from the same Islamophobic movement that produced the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik. Styling themselves as "counter-Jihadists", anti-Muslim crusaders like Klein took their cues from top propagandists like Pamela Geller, the blogger who once suggested that Barack Obama was the lovechild of Malcolm X, and Robert Spencer, a pseudo-academic expert on Muslim radicalization who claimed that Islam was no more than "a developed doctrine and tradition of warfare against unbelievers". Both Geller and Spencer were labeled hate group leaders by the Southern Poverty Law Center
As we traverse deeper and deeper into the Age of Internet, trolling will sometimes become more than a racist or class-ist rant by online failures. The internet will continue to chip away at traditional media, for better or worse, and create its own bizarre situations like this, much as Fox News does on teevee.