City of Brass

I support Obama for President, and I believe that given the Republican Party’s war on muslims in the public and political sphere (Mazen Asbahi, Rima Sinclair, now Rashid Khalidi just the latest examples), his Presidency will do much to mitigate the tide of Islamophobia washing our political shores. But Obama is still a failure for not facing the muslim smear head-on, with the same political courage he demonstrated in the wake of the Reverend Wright affair and his now-historic speech on race. Did that speech erase racial prejudice? No, but it estalished the framework for a post-racial politics. If Obama had shown similar courage, and applied his considerable rhetorical and leadership skills, towards the muslim smear, he might have laid a smilar groundwork for a post-religious politics, which would not only beefit muslims but also Jews and other minorities, and increased America’s leverage and moral leadership abroad as we seek to promote liberalism and human rights abroad, which is a fundamental strategic objective for own national security).

This failure of Obama to confront religious prejudice is directly responsible for the durability of the muslim smear: 23% of all Texans and 28% of Kentucky Republicans still believe Obama to be muslim (and higher percentages remain unsure if he is Christian or not). Nationwide, it’s 12%, and more likely to sway Democrats against Obama than Republicans for obvious reasons.

Related: good summary and overview of Arab and muslim stereotypes and the complicity of our presidential candidates in perpetuating them, by Jack Shaheen.


I missed this as a live broadcast, but fortunately the Obama campaign just put the full video up on YouTube. Here it is:


Hey, this is good stuff from Palin:

“In the worst cases, some of the world’s most oil-rich nations are also
the most oppressive societies. And whether we like it or not, the money
we pay for their oil only makes them more powerful and more oppressive.
Oil wealth allows undemocratic governments to crush dissent and to
subjugate women. Other regimes use it to finance terrorists around the
world and criminal syndicates in our own hemisphere.”

Right on. However, the truth of the above has absolutely nothing to do with drilling in Alaska and everything to do with weaning ourselves from fossil fuels. Which is why Obama’s energy plan makes more sense to me:

  • Within 10 years save more oil than we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela
  • Put 1 million Plug-In Hybrid cars — cars that can get up to 150
    miles per gallon — on the road by 2015, cars that we will work to make
    sure are built here in America.
  • Ensure 10 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by
  • Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.

The full plan is detailed here (PDF)  and it’s a lot more detailed and  comprehensive than McCain’s plan – the latter puts a lot of emphasis on market-oriented solutions as expected, which are not convincing to me at all. The primary incentive of any corporation will always be profit, so to get the energy sector to do the needful, we have to force them rather than entice them.

(via POMED)


Richard Silverstein has posted a review of the Islamophobic hate-film Obsession on his blog, written by David Shasha, one of the leaders of the American Sephardic Jewish community. It’s a powerful indictment, beginning with a list of basic facts about the muslim world that are not open to debate, but simply a matter of historical record – and all providing needed context that Obsession deliberately eschews.He points out clearly exactly why Obsession, despite its disingenuous claim otherwise, is indeed an attempt to delegitimize the entire faith of Islam itself and Otherize muslim-Americans as a whole. And it does so by using the same propaganda tactics that Arab anti-semites themselves use to fan the flames of hatred against israel and America! A few excerpts:

Using a canny mixture of incitement and factuality the producers of
the film bookend their movie with the admission that the film is not an
indictment of Islam itself, but just a certain part of it. When I use
the word “incitement” I mean to say that the film is completely
disingenuous as it offers the basic theme that it hammers over and over
again that Islam is akin to Nazism and that the Arab world is in the
grip of this Nazi-Islamic ideology.

Propaganda is a means to express an ideological viewpoint at the
expense of a plurality of views within the parameters of an open
debate. According to this definition we can see a ratiocination taking
shape which stacks the deck of argument. And to those living in the
Jewish community, the primary mechanism for the distribution of
“Obsession,” this “obsession” with Radical Islamic ideology is
something that we have become quite familiar with.

Embedded within this discourse are a deadening and repetitive array of
media clips of screaming, lunatic Jihadis and their minions. Again,
there is no need to deny that these people exist or to question the
danger they pose not only to Jews and the West, but to the well-being
of the Muslim world itself. Image after image is laced with stirringly
bombastic music that often resembles the propaganda that the film
decries. The rhetoric of the principles being interviewed eschews
subtlety and intellectual heft and hammers home in propagandistic
fashion that Arabs are Nazis and that’s all there is to the matter.

And we cannot forget while watching this execrable piece of
propaganda, a work that is as unhelpful pedagogically as it is
dangerous, that the dual logic of contradiction is continually at play:
we are TOLD that Islam is not like what is being shown on the screen
and yet this is what is being SHOWN to us with a relentlessness that
puts the rhetoric of Islam as a peaceful religion to the lie. After a
steady diet of one solid hour of seeing images of Muslims juxtaposed –
LITERALLY – with those of Hitler and other Nazis, I am not sure if it
takes a genius to figure out that we are being browbeaten into
capitulation to hate all Muslims.

And to make sure that we do not forget this fact, we are treated to
an extensive set of interview clips with an old man named Alfons Heck –
a now-reformed former member of the Hitler Youth!

The “obsession” of this film is to turn the current situation with
what are admittedly some very dangerous people – all of whom it must be
honestly stated are religious Muslim fanatics who twist the words of
their traditions and promote ideas of hate and violence that have
continually been spread throughout the world over the course of the
past century – and make it into a primordial battle being waged between
absolute good and absolute evil.

Now it is not at all necessary for us to demand that “Obsession” be
fair, or that it present the socio-political and historical contexts
that have created this mess. Having said this, it does seem more than
curious that the producers of “Obsession” make this demand of the
Muslims themselves. And indeed, the visual techniques used in the film
are eerily similar to those used by the Muslim fanatics themselves: the
endless repetitive barrage of flashy and shocking images presented in a
de-contextualized atmosphere smacks of what we might best call
hypocrisy. But I think we would more accurately understand the
rhetorical mechanisms of “Obsession” as a form of PILPUL; the attempt
to speak out of both sides of one’s mouth while not-so-subtly
railroading home a single, obsessive mono-causal point.

In essence, this is the very rhetorical means that is used against
Israel and the US by the Arab media which often inflames the masses to
hate Israel and the US
. When Israeli and American acts of violence are
stripped of their socio-political context, the Arab viewer’s feelings
are inflamed and the individual is left with a passionate hatred
bordering on the pathological.

This is essential reading. Click to read the whole thing over at Tikkun Olam. The only thing missing from Shasha’s analysis is a discussion of why the producers of Obsession have engaged in this propaganda exercise; the timing of the mass-mailing of the DVD, and the specific targeting of that mailing to specific swing states under contention in the Presidential election, make the answer rather obvious.

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