by S. Amjad Hussain
THE battle of the Middle East, it seems, is now being fought in America's
No, not the gun-toting, grenade-throwing battle, but a battle of a different
kind. It is a battle to smooth the road to the White House for Republican
Unfortunately, it is being fought at the expense of Islam and Muslims. The
perpetrators of this phony battle are none other than a neo-con cabal that
includes avowed Islamophobe Daniel Pipes.
A shadowy foundation by the name of the Clarion Fund is behind the wide
distribution of a DVD titled Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the
West. The film was made in 2005 by Raphael Shore, a Canadian living in
Israel. At the time, the film was not picked up by general distributors but
was screened on American college campuses by Jewish and evangelical
Christian student groups. It was also shown on CNN and Fox News amidst
widespread protests from Muslim groups.
The film has been resurrected to help the Republican presidential ticket in
the swing states. Seventy newspapers, including The Blade, in these key
battleground states distributed free copies of the DVD as a paid supplement
in their weekend editions. So far, in excess of 28 million DVDs have been
distributed and a new blitz of direct mailing to households in these states
is under way.
A New York based tax-exempt 501(c)(3) corporation, the Clarion Fund, is
behind the free distribution of the DVD. The organization is mum about the
composition of its board and funding sources. A hot link from the fund's Web
site, in clear violation of the law, led to John McCain's campaign Web site.
The link since has been discontinued.
During the Democratic National Convention, organizers tried unsuccessfully
to have the DVD placed in delegates' packages. Undeterred, they walked
around the convention facilities and gave DVDs to the delegates. The
Republicans, on the other hand, were too happy to oblige and all delegates
to the Republican National Convention received the DVD in their packages.
So what is in it that is so objectionable? Plenty.
The film starts with a premise that radical Islam is out there to destroy
Western civilization. To make the case, it shows selected clips of
anti-Western diatribes and violence from Arab electronic media. Then, in an
old and tested cinematic technique, it intersperses film footage from the
Nazi era and equates radical Islam with Nazism.
It is a powerful message and appeals to people already sensitized to the
common refrain of the war of terrorism. What the film fails to show,
however, is that current Arab and Muslim regimes around the world, even if
they were so inclined (and they definitely are not), have neither the
capacity nor the technological superiority to do what the Third Reich did.
But the intended purpose of the film is not to enter into such historic and
philosophical considerations but to tar the entire edifice of religion and
discredit all Muslims. You repeat the refrain radical Islam often enough and
after a while, people only hear the word Islam and equate it with Nazism.
Using this technique, one could make a derogatory film about any religion,
ethnic group, or nationality. Using half truths, false and misleading
historic juxtapositions, and a deep-rooted hatred of others, one could use
the alchemy of slick movie-making to demonize anyone. As in the infamous
swift-boat commercials of the last presidential election, the message sticks
and the images linger.
Some would argue that most people can differentiate between radical and
nonradical Islam and therefore moderate Muslims should not feel offended.
The reality is otherwise. When Republican presidential nominee John McCain
cannot tell the difference between Shias and Sunnis and wishes to continue
the war in Iraq for the proverbial 100 years, how can we expect the average
Joe to understand the difference between the peaceful majority and a warring
and murderous minority?
So why did the newspapers facilitate distribution of this message of hate?
The answer has to be that it was to help with their declining bottom lines.
But there were a number of newspapers that decided not to distribute the
film. According to John Robinson, editor of the Greensboro News and Record
in South Carolina, the film is divisive and plays on people's fears and
serves no educational purpose. He further said that the revenue it would
have brought in was not a motivator. He concluded his reasoning by saying
that just because you can publish does not mean you should.
Here is a lesson in civics and societal responsibility for the bean counters
on North Superior Street in Toledo.
Enver Masud, "The Cartoons of
Prophet Muhammad," The Wisdom Fund, February 6, 2006
Paul R. Dunn, "Islamic Fascism:
The Propaganda of Our Times," The Wisdom Fund, September 6, 2006
[A U.S. Muslim advocacy group Tuesday asked the Federal Election Commission
to investigate whether a nonprofit group that distributed a controversial
DVD about Islam in newspapers nationwide is a "front" for an Israel-based
group with a stealth goal of helping Republican presidential candidate John
McCain.--Eric Gorski, "Muslim
group seeks probe of 'radical Islam' DVD," Associated Press,
September 23, 2008]
[A New York-based organization has sent copies of a movie about Islamist
extremism to more than 28 million houses and religious institutions in
presidential election battleground states over the past several
weeks. . . .
The council filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission and the
Internal Revenue Service last month, accusing the group of promoting the
candidacy of Sen. John McCain over Sen. Barack Obama's. Federal election and
tax laws prohibit nonprofit organizations from promoting specific
candidates.--Kimberly Kindy, "Group Swamps Swing States With Movie on Radical
Islam," Associated Press, October 26, 2008]
[One of the popular post-9/11 sentiments has been the one that holds that
Muslims are bent on conquering the world. The notion is that Muslims hate
Christianity and Western freedom and values and that such hatred is rooted
in the Koran and stretches back centuries. Thus, the United States has been
drawn, reluctantly, into a war against Muslims. That's why U.S. forces are
in Iraq and Afghanistan, the argument goes - to defend our freedoms by
killing Muslims over there before they get over here and kill us.--Jacob G.
Hornberger, "Interventionism, Not
Muslims, Is the Problem," The Future of Freedom Foundation, October 27, 2008]
[The 9/11 attacks and the ensuing "war on terror" have provided an
opportunity for the U.S. foreign policy establishment, suffering from Enemy
Deprivation Syndrome since the Cold War's end, to settle on a potential new
bogeyman. It is radical Islam, or the "Green Peril" - a term I used in an
article 15 years ago in Foreign Affairs, spring 1993. I challenged Samuel
Huntington's clash-of-civilizations paradigm, which predicted that the West
and Islam would engage in a long and bloody struggle over control of the
Middle East, including its oil resources.
The neoconservative ideologues who hijacked President George W. Bush's
foreign policy apparatus have embraced Huntington's notion of a
confrontation between Islam and the West. They see it as a way to justify
American military power, to establish U.S. hegemony in the Middle East while
imposing American values, the so-called "freedom agenda," to deal with the
rise of Islamofascism, a Khomeini-like creature, armed with a radical
ideology, equipped with nuclear weapons, and intent on launching a violent
jihad against Western civilization. . . .
Indeed, when globalization seems to be bypassing the Middle East, it's
important to remember that the region was once a center of global commerce,
and that its merchants and traders - Syrians, Lebanese, Jews, Armenians,
Greeks, and others - helped spread the culture of business across the
Mediterranean and throughout the world. That old Spirit of the Levant could
be revived under these conditions of capitalist peace and help transform the
Middle East from the global economy's backwater into one of its most
powerful engines..--Leon Hadar, "Islam and the
West: The Myth of the Green Peril," Energy Tribune, November 3,