Obsession: Hate and the conspiracy of silence
by Jeff Siddiqui
Why does America get such a wide-eyed look of amazement when there is violence against some minority in the wake of some actions that most sane people would say, help create the atmosphere for such acts of violence?
Consider the following:
Someone produces films like “Obsession”, or “Suicide Killers”, or so many other “documentaries” that are so clearly filled with hate-mongering and generating fear towards Islam, Muslims and Arabs and our collective outlook changes to a hypocritical self-righteousness that is pbvious to all but the pre-biased minds.
Our media and its pundits start grandstanding about how they are only defending the rightful exercise of “Free Speech” when they re-publish articles or pictures that are painful and repugnant to one group or another…mostly to us “Muzlems”.
We hear the wrathful thundering of intellectuals, loudly demanding to know why it is okay for someone to burn the flag of the United States, but not for others to condemn the Prophet Mohammed or, why it is okay for the Nazis to march in Skokie, but not okay for people to distribute more than 28,000,000 copies of “Obsession” to the readers of various newspapers. “And demonizing those who discuss that reality (of “Radical” Islam…Jeff) , in the hopes of intimidating them into silence, is wrong” said Editor Glenn Sheller in an e-mail to me from The Columbus Despatch, one of the distributors of the DVD.
These pundits are either deep in self-delusion or too facile to admit they are wrong, very wrong. There is a vast difference between the exercise of hate-filled, “Free Speech” and defending the same or, promoting those same vile acts.
“I disagree with everything you say, but I will defend to death, your right to say it” (attributed to Voltaire).
“Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech…” (1st Amendment to the US Constitution).
Put me down as a strong supporter of both…without preconditions.
I will indeed, defend the right of the right-wing churches to condemn Islam and Muslims, even though I might feel they are committing a vile sin against God. But I surely would NEVER help them promote or disseminate their vile messages by using my resources.
Recently, hate-mongers have distributed 28 million dvds of “Obsession” to unsuspecting readers of various newspapers in “battleground states”, states that could go either to the Republicans or, to the Democrats. Some of these readers were then called to find out if they had received the dvds and were then suggested that Obama would be too weak to fight “terrorism” while McCain would be great at it.
We have also discovered that copies of this dvd have been distributed to the subscribers of “The Oregonian” in Portland and most recently, to people in California.
The latest news is that the Clarion Fund and Aish Ha’Torah, the promoters of this campaign, have sent over 325,000 copies of this DVD to every member or lay member of the clergy in the United States.
In these situations, Free Speech stops at the production of the dvds.
After that, the newspapers who wouldn’t give a fig for hate speech against “Muzlems”, sold us out for a few pieces of silver while claiming to be defending “Free Speech”.
No, they were not defending Free Speech, they were profiting from hate-speech and helping it along by renting their resources to promote it.
There is a difference.
In the meantime, the silence from the non-Muslims was painful to observe.
To be sure, there were some individuals who spoke out against the distribution of hate speech, but no political leaders spoke out against it and extremely few faith leaders issued public announcements against it.
Then when the backlash begins and violence breaks out, people wonder how this can be.
During a protest demonstration (“don’t support Apartheid” they said) against the sale of Israeli wines in Vancouver BC, encountered counter-demonstrators who went in to buy Israeli wines…one man after buying his bottle of “Israeli” wine insisted to go to several of the picketers, including a Jewish-American visitor, to say, “I’m going to drink this wine and watch Palestinian mothers on TV crying over their dead children and men”.
Should we be astounded when we find such hate-filled views of Muslims, should we be astonished when Muslims are equated to vermin and diseases, to be exterminated, should we feel any pain when we see people voicing opinions as in the report here?
What about incidents of violence across schools as reported in the links below?
TV report: http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news&id=6442527
News report: http://www.suntimes.com/news/24-7/1214233,101008attack.article
Should we wonder why an AP history teacher at my daughter’s school (Mountlake Terrace High) should warn students (while my daughter was attending the class) about the dangers of making Muslim friends who might be “Sleeper Cells”?
Should we wonder why a teacher in Audubon School (Redmond) would allow a volunteer parent to make the point to SIX-year old kids, that Muslims are disloyal to America?
In case we do wonder, let me clarify: this happens ONLY because the groups in power allow bigots to use the groups’ resources for the “Freedom of Speech” that promotes such behavior. This happens only because organizations that would normally rise up an scream out their rejection of bigotry, prefer to remain silent because the target group is seen as “the enemy” by them.
Acts of violence and bigotry can occur only because Republican Party Machinery grinds onwards as their constituent groups take on the task of stoking the fires of fear against Islam and Muslims, in a cheap attempt to secure more votes and money while using “patriotism” as their cover.
Acts of violence and bigotry can occur only because Christian Churches and groups are silent when right-wing Christian Churches promote their bigotry towards Islam.
Acts of violence and bigotry can occur only because Jewish organizations and congregations silently permit attacks on Arabs and Muslims, by blindly partisan Jewish groups.
Plausible deniability is the fig-leaf behind which so many evils are allowed to continue and under which, everyone can claim the lofty moral platform of honor and pretend that they have no responsibility for the growing violence against Islam, Muslims and Arabs.
Nevertheless, people of good will cannot and must not allow hate-mongers to pollute the atmosphere with their proto-genocidal messages
American Muslims of Puget Sound
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Letter sent to the Chronicle of Higher Education who accepted the DVD advertising insert:
Dear Mr. Semas,
Thank you for your response to my e-mail, I trust you will indulge me as I share with you, the perspective of Muslims, regarding the propagation and dissemination of “Obsession”.
“Obsession” is an unrepentant piece of hate-propaganda against Muslims and Islam. If you have taken the time to watch the dvd that you helped publish and promote, you would notice clearly, how quickly the prefix “Radical” disappears from use as they take great pains to discredit Islam. If you know even a little about Islam, you will see how wild their claims about and against Islam are, but tragically, this knowledge will not help the millions whose hearts have been contaminated with fear and hate against Islam and Muslims, by this obscene but professionally produced “documentary”.
It is undeniable that an advertisement carries extra credibility because of the medium through which it is presented, which is why magazines such as your The Chronicle of Higher Education would be more preferable than, say, The UFO visitor News.
We note with pain and grief, that almost all newspapers involved in hate-promotion, invoke the sacrosanct “Freedom of Press” or “Freedom of Speech”. These same papers and magazines, yours included, I am sure, would never dream of publishing or promoting even by way of ads, hate by White Supremacists against Blacks. Nor would you help some Nazi institution issue a diatribe against Jews, in spite of your stated confidence of your “very intelligent readers”. I would like to believe that you would never consider publishing ads for more information about pedophilia or child pornography…“Freedom of Speech or Press” notwithstanding.
We Muslims strongly support the same freedoms that you wish to invoke to protect your actions. The difference from our point of view, is that the freedom of expression stops at the production of the hate-material by the hate-mongers; the further dissemination and promotion of the same is no longer an exercise of freedom of expression, but a profit-motivated rental of your resources to an evil purpose. Similarly, freedom of the press is also to be preserved, but that freedom also stops at the writing of an opinion by the paper or the reportage of information; the taking of someone else’s material for money and re-publishing it as you did, is again a rental of your resources for profit.
To place it in theological terms, you did not report on some action, but you sold your conscience for a few pieces of silver.
As a magazine that is as highly-regarded by its readers for scholarly views, you betrayed not only your own highest ideals, but your readers’ trust as well. From your response to my earlier e-mail, it does not appear that you care.
American Muslims of Puget Sound