Reaction toÂ ObsessionÂ DVD distribution shows many Americans clueless about jihad
The DVDÂ ObsessionÂ is being packaged with the morning paper all over the country, and millions upon millions of copies have been distributed. That’s all to the good, but the reaction to it shows in numerous ways that many, if not most, Americans have no clue about what we’re up against.
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Mama Moonbat gets the creeps over ‘Obsession:’
Pennsylvania woman deeply offended to learn that there’s a jihad against the U.S.A.Â Â “They’re just instilling fear in us. I’m tired of living in fear.”
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Of course, the distribution of the film is designed to fix that problem, and for many people it probably will, but in the Jihad Watch echo chamber it is easy to lose sight of the fact that we represent a very, very small percentage of people who realize the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat. Polls show thatÂ fewer Americans today believe that terrorism is a threat than at any time since before 9/11; several of the larger blogs that used to care about this issue have for various reasons lost interest; and the jihad threat is nowhere discussed fully and adequately in the mainstream.
A few of the news stories commenting on theÂ ObsessionÂ distribution indicate the scope of the general ignorance. I had originally intended this as an elephantine post discussing several of these stories, but I went on so long about the first one here that I will save the others for future posts.
Bundled in home-delivered editions of The News & Observer today is a paid insert featuring a controversial DVD on Islam that has stirred anger nationwide. […]
Translation: “Readers, don’t take this DVD seriously. It’s “controversial.” This is what passes for journalism these days, but just consider for a moment how different readers’ reactions would have been if the story had started out this way: “Bundled in home-delivered editions of The News & Observer today is a paid insert featuring a DVD on Islam that attempts to alert people to the magnitude of the jihad threat.” Which lede is moreÂ objective?
Jim McClure, vice president of display advertising for The N&O, declined to say what it is charging to deliver the DVD as part of today’s newspaper. He dismissed allegations that it is inflammatory.”In the beginning of the DVD it clearly states it’s not about Islam. It’s about radical Islam,” McClure said.
That is a key weakness of an otherwise excellent film. Of course, it probably wouldn’t be being distributed all over the country if it had spoken more forthrightly about the roots of the jihad ideology and Islamic supremacism in core Islamic texts and teachings. The problem is not so much with the use of the term “Radical Islam,” which can refer to many things and doesn’t necessarily assume that the violent and supremacist elements of jihadist teaching are corruptions of Islamic theology, but with the implication in the film that there is a benign, mainstream and standard version of Islam that does not teach warfare against and the subjugation of unbelievers. There isn’t, and it is misleading in the extreme to suggest otherwise. There are many peaceful Muslims who have no interest in furthering the jihad and never will, but there is no peaceful Islam — and that makes these peaceful Muslims always vulnerable to appeals to Islamic authenticity.
Despite the disclaimer, the film features prominent anti-Muslim pundits, including Daniel Pipes, Steven Emerson and Walid Shoebat, who told the Springfield News-Leader — a Missouri daily — that “Islam is not the religion of God — Islam is the devil.”
To dismiss Pipes and Emerson as “anti-Muslim pundits” is to ignore the monumental work they have both done to expose the activities of jihadists in the United States and elsewhere, reducing this work to bigotry and trivia. Which was, no doubt, precisely the objective.
Films aim in questionMuslims across the nation and in the Triangle said they are disappointed by the film.
“It adds fuel to the fire and devalues the work we do,” said Khalilah Sabra, an organizer with the Raleigh chapter of the Muslim American Society, which lists “promoting understanding” as its mission.
While Pipes, Emerson, and Shoebat are tarred and dismissed as “anti-Muslim,” Khalilah Sabra and the Muslim American Society are all about “promoting understanding.” The N&O can’t find any room for the fact that, according to aÂ 2004 Chicago Tribune exposÃ©, the Muslim American Society is the name under which the Muslim Brotherhood operates in the United States. Nor does it mention thatÂ according to a 1991 Brotherhood memorandumÂ about its strategy in the U.S., it is embarked upon a “grand Jihad” aimed at “eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”
The film features footage of elementary schoolchildren reciting mantras such as “When I wander into the entrance of Jerusalem, I’ll turn into a suicide warrior.”Its aim is to liken radical Islam to Nazism and to promote the state of Israel, said Omid Safi, a professor of Islamic Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill, who has seen the film several times.
“One of the running themes is, ‘We stand today as the world stood in 1938,’ ” said Safi, referring to the rise of Nazism. “It’s fear mongering. It appeals to people’s emotions.”…
Not like Omid Safi, whoÂ propagandistically stacks the deck for his studentsÂ by pre-emptively classifying a diverse list of people as “Islamopobes” and asking them to write a report on their evils. No emotionalism in that, oh no. Omid Safi is all dispassionate intellect — as witness his fearmongering and emotionalism a bit farther on in the story:
In a statement, N&O Publisher Orage Quarles III wrote: “As a newspaper we tend to shy away from censorship. In cases of controversial topics, if we err, we tend to do so on the side of freedom of speech.”But some questioned whether this is a censorship issue.
“If there was a 30-minute DVD warning people against the danger of blacks or Jews, would the N&O distribute it?” asked Safi….
Safi, of course, ignores the distinction that the film makes between non-jihadist Muslims and jihadist Muslims — however faulty the distinction is made in the film (as I explained above), it is certainly made, and made more than once. And there is no doubt that many Muslims are not on board with the jihadist program. Safi himself professes to be one of them. But in his comment here Safi would have you believe that the film lumps all Muslims together, and is thus comparable to a Klan piece on blacks or a Nazi piece on Jews.
Were Omid Safi at all interested in being fair-minded, he would acknowledge that the film makes this distinction, and would even perhaps explain why a film about an ideological threat does not fall into the same category as scaremongering about racial groups.
But it gets even worse: the story concludes with a Muslim playing the victim card — and, of course, there is no mention made of how many Muslims-as-victim stories have beenÂ fabricated outright or greatly exaggerated:
One Muslim reader wrote the N&O to say that the film can only make local Muslims feel vulnerable.”I must say that this video makes me fear for my safety and the safety of my family since people may not be able to differentiate between Muslims living here in Raleigh and the way Muslims are depicted in this scary film!” said Shadi Sadi, a data analyst in Raleigh.
To put this in perspective, consider the prospect of a German in 1943 writing angrily about an anti-Nazi presentation that it put Germans in fear for their safety. By contrast, German-Americans were anxious to prove their loyalty to the United States. Those days, it seems, are gone forever.
Pennsylvania woman deeply offended to learn that there’s a jihad against the U.S.A.
Reaction toÂ ObsessionÂ DVD distribution shows many Americans clueless about jihad, Part 2: “DVD on radical Islam offends Lemoyne recipient,” by Carrie Cassidy forÂ The Patriot-News(Central Pennyslvania), September 11:
Sally Lopez said she opened the mailbox at her Lemoyne home on Monday and found a DVD entitled “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.”The independently released documentary showed scenes from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and other attacks in London, Madrid, Spain and Beslan, Russia.
Lopez said she was offended by the DVD.
Right on, sister. I’m offended by jihad violence too. The murders of innocent civilians in the Twin Towers, subways in Madrid, buses in London, and in school in Russia, all by jihadists — these murders offend me deeply.
But of course, that wasn’t what offended this good citizen. What offended her was hearing about it.
And after learning her daughter, who lives in York, also received a copy, Lopez said she wondered whether there was political motivation behind the mailing.”My thing is, I’m not stupid. There are definitely radical Islamic cells all over the world, but we also have the Aryan Nation, the [Ku Klux Klan], all kinds of hate groups out there,” Lopez said. “They’re just instilling fear in us. I’m tired of living in fear.”
Right. Best to ignore them all. Then they will just go away. And as for Ms. Lopez’s casual moral equivalence, the Aryan Nations and the KKK haven’t committed over 10,000 acts of violence around the world since 9/11 alone. They don’t have international organizations stretching from Europe to Indonesia. But never mind. It’s all just fearmongering.
“Huff Po goes apeshit” Watch:
UPDATE 9/13Â – 70 newspapers in swing states have been paid to distributeÂ ObsessionÂ this weekend and next, which means not all the DVDs have been delivered yet. Check the list at the end of this post to see if your newspaper is one of them, and let them know how you feel about their participation in this shameless propaganda campaign.)
This week, 28 million copies of a right-wing, terror propaganda DVD are being mailed and bundled in newspaper deliveries to voters in swing states. The 60-minute DVDs, titledÂ Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West, are landing on doorsteps in a campaign coinciding with the 7th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Funding is coming from a New York-based group called the Clarion Fund, a shadowy outfitÂ whose financial backers are unclear.
The program wasÂ originally shown on Fox NewsÂ in the days leading up to the 2006 mid-term elections, and far right-wing activist David Horowitz toured the country screening the film on college campuses during 2007. Mainstream religious groups have calledÂ ObsessionÂ biased and divisive. ItÂ cuts betweenÂ scenes of Nazi rallies and footage of Muslim children being encouraged to become suicide bombers.
Talking heads in the film include infamous anti-Muslim, self-proclaimed “islamophobes” likeDaniel PipesÂ andÂ Walid Shoebat. In 2001, PipesÂ claimedÂ the “presence” and “enfranchisement” of Muslims in the U.S. presented “true dangers to American Jews.” Shoebat is an evangelical Christian whoÂ falsely claimsÂ to be a former Muslim terrorist. Last year, Shoebat told the Missouri Springfield News-Leader, “Islam is not the religion of God – Islam is the devil.”
As detailed in anÂ OffTheBus report on HuffPoÂ two days ago, the DVDs were distributed last weekend in national editions of theÂ New York TimesÂ andÂ Wall Street JournalÂ within selected swing states. These included Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Colorado, Iowa, Florida, Wisconsin, Nevada, New Hampshire and Virginia.
Sally Lopez of Lemoyne, PA displays a copy of the DVD that came in the mail.
Here in North Carolina, another battleground state that John McCain must win to reach 270 electoral votes, 160,000 copies of the DVD are to be distributed tomorrow by the state’s leading newspaper.
The RaleighÂ News & ObserverÂ reported yesterdayÂ on its Under The Dome politics blog that the paper is preparing to bundle copies of the DVD with this Saturday’s newspapers. Jim McClure, vice president of display advertising for theÂ N&O, said the “ultimate decision” to distribute the DVDs had been made by publisher Orage Quarles, and compared the propaganda to harmless household samples.
“‘Obviously, we have distributed other product samples, whether it’s cereal or toothpaste,’ he said. He declined to say how much the agency paid.”
TheÂ News & ObserverÂ recently announcedÂ deep buyouts and layoffs for its employees. It is owned by the struggling McClatchy news chain, which is slashing newsroom jobs and pages at theÂ papers it ownsÂ around the country. Advertising revenues have plummeted during the ongoing economic downturn, and it appears theÂ N&OÂ is now auctioning off its journalistic integrity to the highest bidder.
The paper’s announcement touched off immediate criticism fromÂ angry subscribers:
“A box of cereal? Toothpaste? Does a box of cereal or a tube of toothpaste encourage me to look with hatred and suspicion on my law abiding neighbors who have a different religion than mine? Does cereal and toothpaste lead to pogroms, religious harassment, fear and intimidation? The trailer for this video is about hate, pure and simple, and shows the video has only one goal — to instill fear and hatred of neighbor against neighbor.
If I receive this DVD in my paper, that day, after 22 years of receiving the N&O, will be the last day of my subscription.
Please, please reconsider this decision!”
Although supposedly a 501 c(3) non-profit, this week the Clarion Fund’s website featured an article supporting John McCain. Yesterday, theÂ Patriot-NewsÂ in PAÂ reportedÂ on the DVDs showing up in Pennsylvania, and noted:
“On Wednesday, though, there was an article on the group’s new Web site, www.radicalislam.org, that backed Republican presidential candidate John McCain. The article discusses both candidates and concludes: “McCain’s policies seek to confront radical Islamic extremism and terrorism and roll it back while [Barack] Obama’s, although intending to do the same, could in fact make the situation facing the West even worse.”
According to Clarion Fund director of communications Gregory Ross, the article “crossed the line” and would be removed.
Where else exactly are these DVDs landing, and who’s funding the Clarion Fund?
If you’d like to giveÂ News & ObserverÂ executives a piece of your mind, executive editor John Drescher can be reached at (919) 829-4515, orÂ firstname.lastname@example.org. Or ask for publisher Orage Quarles at the paper’s main phone number, (919) 829-4500.
(UPDATE 9/13Â – Greg Mitchell ofÂ Editor & PublisherÂ hasÂ more details. And here’s a state-by-state list of most of the 70 newspapers in swing states that have agreed to deliver this garbage to their subscribers:
ColoradoÂ – Boulder Daily Camera, Centennial Citizen, Colorado Springs Gazette, Denver Post, Fort Collins Coloradoan, Greeley Tribune
IowaÂ – Daily Nonpareil, Des Moines Register, Iowa City Press Citizen, Quad City Times, Sioux City Journal
IndianaÂ – South Bend Tribune
FloridaÂ – Daily Commercial, Florida Times-Union, Ft. Lauderdale El Sentinel, Ft. Myers News Press, Miami Herald, Ocala Star Banner, Orlando Sun Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, Tampa Tribune, Tallahassee Democrat, St. Petersburg Times, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
MichiganÂ – Detroit Free-Press, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Lansing State Journal
MissouriÂ – Springfield News-Leader
NevadaÂ – Las Vegas Review-Journal/Sun, Nevada Appeal, Reno Gazette-Journal
New HampshireÂ – Portsmouth Herald News, Union Leader
New MexicoÂ – Clovis News Journal, Hobbs News-Sun, Rio Rancho Observer
OhioÂ – Canton Repository, Columbus Dispatch, Dayton Daily News, Middletown Journal, Morning Journal, Toledo Blade, Youngstown Vindicator
North CarolinaÂ – Charlotte Observer, Raleigh News & Observer
PennsylvaniaÂ – Bucks Co. Courier Times, Erie Times-News, Morning Call, Philadelphia Inquirer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Reading Eagle, The Patriot-News
VirginiaÂ – Sun-Gazette, Virginian-Pilot
WisconsinÂ – Green Bay Press-Gazette, Janesville Gazette, Journal Times, La Crosse Tribune, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
(UPDATE 9/15Â – The progressive Jewish websiteÂ JewsOnFirst.orgÂ has aÂ thorough reportÂ on the Clarion Fund’s background and role in pushing these hate DVDs. Highlights include the film’sÂ past tiesÂ to the Republican Jewish Coalition, Clarion’sÂ rent-an-address location, its incorporator, New York attorneyÂ Eli Greenberg, spokesman Gregory Ross’ implausible denial that the Fund also paid to distributeÂ ObsessionÂ at both the Democratic and Republican conventions, and Ross’ statement that the Clarion Fund will not disclose its donors’ names.
Obsession at the conventions.
However, one detail in this report seems mistaken, that “because it was established only recently, the Clarion Fund has not yet filed its first required disclosure (Form 990) with the IRS.” According to the New York Secretary of State’sÂ website, the Clarion Fund was incorporated nearly two years ago, on December 28, 2006. So where are their Form 990’s? Hello, IRS?)
Erik Ose is a veteran of Democratic campaigns in North Carolina and blogs atÂ The Latest Outrage
South Florida: Distribution of Obsession DVD gives Muzz Diarrhea
ObsessionÂ DVD offends Muslims
Reaction toÂ ObsessionÂ DVD distribution shows many Americans clueless about jihad, Part 5: “‘Radical Islam’ video angers South Florida Muslims,” by Jaweed Kaleem for theÂ Miami Herald, September 16 (thanks to JW.):
A controversial DVD distributed to millions of Americans during the past week through direct mail and newspapers, including The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, has angered many Muslims in South Florida.Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West is being packaged as an advertising insert in 70 newspapers, including The Sun Sentinel and The Palm Beach Post….
The DVD includes montages of terrorist training camps and suicide bombers paired with narration by commentators such as Daniel Pipes, founder of the conservative Middle East Forum think tank. Many of the film’s pundits are known for controversial views on Islam. In one part of the DVD, clips of Muslim children being recruited as suicide bombers are interspersed with images of Nazis.
Horror of horrors! Recruitment of Muslim children to be suicide bombers is compared to Nazism? When we all know that the recruitment of Muslim children to be suicide bombers is all sweetness and a blow for justice against wicked Zionism!
”My cellphone has been ringing off the hook . . . We feel that it’s going to incite more hate and bigotry against our community,” said Altaf Ali, Florida chapter director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The DVD does not do enough to differentiate between terrorists and mainstream Muslims, he said….
Neither, of course, does CAIR.Â CAIR is an unindicted co-conspirator in a jihad terror funding case. It is a spinoff of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), which is listed in the 1991Muslim Brotherhood memorandumÂ on strategy in the U.S. as part of its “grand jihad” aimed at “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within.”Â Several of its officials have been arrestedÂ and convicted on terror-related charges, andÂ one of its founders has made Islamic supremacist statements, hoping that one day the Qur’an would be the only law of the land in America. But the Herald, of course, mentions none of this.
Syed Rahman, a Muslim pharmaceutical consultant from Weston, said he was shocked to see the film bundled with his Sunday Miami Herald. ”I could not believe my eyes,” he said. Nidal Hussain, a Kendall computer consultant, was also taken aback. ”I watched it with my wife . . . it is vulgar material,” he said. “I’m sure good, wholesome Americans are going to see it and be able to decipher the truth.”
I’m sure they will.
At least one newspaper, The News & Record of Greensboro, N.C., decided not to distribute the DVD. The publisher ”said it was divisive and plays on people’s fears and served no educational purpose,” editor John Robinson wrote in his blog….
Robinson did not explain what exactly we should do with those jihadist preachers preaching death and destruction in the video.