I am grateful to Beliefnet blogger Aziz Poonawalla for bringing to my attention the 28 million free DVDs that were delivered with the Sunday newspaper throughout battleground states last month. The movie is called Obsession. According to Poonawalla, it
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.
The filmmakers insist that they are not anti-Muslim but anti-terrorist.
A new menace is threatening, with all the means at its disposal, to bow Western Civilization under the yoke of its values. That enemy is Radical Islam.
Using images from Arab TV, rarely seen in the West, Obsession reveals an ‘insider’s view’ of the hatred the Radicals are teaching, their incitement of global jihad, and their goal of world domination. With the help of experts, including first-hand accounts from a former PLO terrorist, a Nazi youth commander, and the daughter of a martyred guerilla leader, the film shows, clearly, that the threat is real.
A peaceful religion is being hijacked by a dangerous foe, who seeks to destroy the shared values we stand for. The world should be very concerned.
According to the Associated Press:
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.
The promoters of “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” denied trying to promote any presidential campaign. They said it’s also incorrect to tie the DVD campaign to Jerusalem-based educational group Aish HaTorah International, although current and former employees are involved with the project.
Distribution of the film was underwritten by the Clarion Fund, which does not disclose its staff, directors, or sources of contributions on its own website or the site devoted to the film. They may have some legitimate security concerns; nevertheless, the lack of transparency calls into question the integrity and objectivity of their materials.
A possible hate crime at a mosque in Dayton may be related to the distribution of “Obsession.”
But it is clear that the movie has inspired at least one act of principle and heroism. According to Poonawalla, one newspaper editor refused to distribute the movie.
John Robinson of the Greensboro, North Carolina News-Record explained their publisher’s decision on his blog:
He said it was divisive and plays on people’s fears and served no educational purpose. The revenue it would have 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.