Saturday, October 18, 2008

CAIR Takes Stand Against Consciousnessness-Raising

As we noted briefly a couple weeks ago ("All One Community?"), there has been a minor kerfuffle about the distribution, as a free DVD in newspaper ad inserts, of the documentary "Obsession," a 2006 film that attempts to illustrate, according to filmmaker Raphael Shore, that "there is a war being waged against America by radical Islamic extremists."

Now the kerfuffle has become local, thought not losing its kerfuffle scale. According to Detroit News Islamic Affairs Correspondent Gregg Krupa, the DVD, "mailed to tens of thousands of households in Macomb and Oakland counties and distributed as advertising in local newspapers is being decried as bigotry by some Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders, who say it portrays radical Islam as a demonic force bent on world domination." ("Interfaith leaders call 'Obsession' DVD hateful").

Disclaimer: I haven’t managed to see this documentary, and I didn’t get the insert, because we get the Detroit News at our house. As seen in the article, both the Detroit News and Free Press decided not to distribute this piece of advertising for unstated reasons. (I’ll state them. They're afraid of being mau-maued by Dawud Walid, CAIR, and the ADC--probably with unannounced drop-in visits right before lunchtime). But I know the documentary was shown on both CNN and Fox News Channel in prime time, and I have no reason to doubt that the documentary is an informative and accurate piece of work. And my opinion includes Krupa's article, which nowhere calls into question the factual accuracy of "Obsession." [TR].

One Dearborn doctor complains about the documentary this way:

"What the movie is doing is trying to label all Muslims as supporting terrorists," said Mir Asghar of Dearborn, a doctor and a Muslim. "There is a small group of extremists, like al-Qaida and the Taliban, and we are 100 percent against them and behind all efforts against them. But we are 1.2 billion Muslims worldwide and we are a voice of moderation."

And the "interfaith" angle of the opposition sounds something like this:

Robert Bruttell, an adjunct professor of religion at the University of Detroit and a member of Interfaith Scholars, which is part of the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity & Inclusion, said, "The movie is appalling, a piece of the most blatant sort of pernicious propaganda. We have formed a task force to see what we can do to countervail against it."

Cool! A task force!

Task Force Agenda:

Idea Number One: Employ censorship tactics to countervail against Islamo-critical information.

Idea Number Two: Create a countervailing documentary, (e.g., "Islam Means 'Peace'"), richly illustrated with example after example of the numerous, unequivocal, public, denunications of Islamist terrorism by Islamic political, religious, and cultural leaders, and examples of the uniform condemnation of violent Islamist attacks from within the greater Muslim community across the globe. . . .what's that? We don't? There aren't? We can't??

OK. Then as I was saying, returning to Idea Number One. . . .

Among the "distortions" the documentary is alleged to be spreading is that "[t]he sacred Islamic principle of jihad -- a personal or community struggle against evil -- is misidentified as a commandment to Muslims to make war against the United States and Europe."

But the most interesting bit to me is this:

The Council on American Islamic Relations has asked the Federal Election Commission to investigate whether the nonprofit group that distributed it is a "front" for pro-Israel groups aiming to affect the presidential election. A liberal Jewish organization, Tikun Olam, has asked the Internal Revenue Service to review the tax-free status of the Clarion Fund, questioning whether it is independent and nonpartisan, as required of nonprofits. . . .

. . . Muslims and others point to the targeting of swing states like Michigan, Virginia and Missouri and areas like Macomb and Oakland counties by the Clarion Fund. Those critics say it is an attempt to influence the election by scaring the electorate, so voters are more likely to vote for the candidate they think will best defend national security.

Let’s think about this, because I think this is what's really going on here. The objection to “Obsession” by “Muslims and others” is that it might scare voters into voting “for the candidate they think will best defend national security.” But isn’t it a good thing to select the candidate who will better defend national security? And don’t Obama, and McCain both claim to be the better candidate to defend national security?

What’s really going on here is that the DVD--which mentions neither McCain nor Obama, Democrats nor Republicans--and which was made long before anyone knew who the party nominees would be--really is effective at raising “awareness of the threat of radical jihadism.” And on that issue there really has been a distinctive difference between the two parties on this issue both before and after 9/11, but especially after.

Which leaves this question:

Why do CAIR and the ADC care so much that voters select the president in November with a lower awareness of that threat?

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