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The movie Obsession is a polemic for the modern age, the digital equivalent of a Jack Chick tract, only directed at muslims rather than Catholics. The movie is somewhat ironically named, because if anything it reflects the obsession that the Islamophobes in western society have with Islam as the bogeyman threat to their romanticized concept of perpetually-threatened Western civilization – muslims as Orcs.

Naturally, tens of millions of copies have been distributed for free in newspapers to voters in critical swing states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida. And segments will be shown on Fox News, which reaches tens of millions more viewers.

Actually, one newspaper has refused to run the paid insert DVD – the Greensboro News and Record in North Carolina. The editor, John Robinson, explained the decision at his blog:

We did not distribute it. I was not involved in the decision; it was an advertising call, in keeping with advertising policies.

I asked our publisher about it. He said it was divisive and plays onpeople’s fears and served no educational purpose. The revenue it wouldhave brought in was not a motivator.

As I’ve said on other occasions about news decisions, just because you can publish doesn’t mean you should.

In a follow-up post, Robinson goes on to note the backlash that his papers’ principled decision has provoked from the Islamophobic right,

We’ve been called true Americans. We’ve been called politically correct. We’ve been called a lot of things.

One man from Miami called to ask why I was sheltering readers fromthe evils of Radical Islam. I told him I didn’t think anyone wasunaware of the events of the past seven years.

A blogger called us gutless. Jihad Watch wanted me to “explain what exactly we should do with those jihadist preachers preaching death and destruction in the video.”

Hmmm. A better question for Obama and McCain.

Indeed.

I, for one, believe in the fundamental decency of the American people.In many ways the DVD is an (expensive) excercise in preaching to thechoir. The political strategy is simple – to play off the “Obama is amuslim” smear and associate Obama with capitulation to and associationwith the terrorist threat. It’s fear-mongering 101. But the people whowill buy into it are the ones who were not going to vote for Obamaanyway. We will see who wins Florida, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Ohio…we will see. In fact, I am embedding the video right here in the interest of transparency and free speech.

The promoters of this video and I are in agreement about this much: the video speaks for itself. I have more faith in my fellow citizens than they do, though.

Incidentally, I have argued that Obama could have defused the power of the muslim smear against him, if he was not so afraid to take a stand against the fundamental logic of it, and say clearly, “I am not muslim, but even if I were, there would be nothing wrong with that.” Instead Obama stops short at the insistence that he is not muslim, and then talks about how the smear is offensive to muslims as well, but fails to connect the dots. In so doing he has left breathing room for the smear to propagate, and it’s that opportunity that Obsession seeks to exploit. I think there is still time for Obama to make that statement, but the longer he waits, the less impact it will have.

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