CAIR’s Indifference to Obsession DVD Distribution
by Sheila Musaji
This week, 28 million copies of a DVD of the film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” will be distributed free of cost in newspapers across the country. I was unable to find anything in the Muslim media, or on the websites of any of the major Muslim organizations in the U.S. including where is CAIR, and this leads me to ask where is CAIR when we actually need them. (I am stressing CAIR’s responsibility only because they are the only major organization whose mission is to be an advocate for American Muslims.) According to their vision and mission statement: “CAIR’s vision is to be a leading advocate for justice and mutual understanding. CAIR’s mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.” The following is what I have been able to discover in the media about this propoganda campaign.
A DVD of the film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” has been bundled inside more than 70 newspapers and magazines and delivered nationwide to subscribers. “There is no greater threat than radical Islam,” said Gregory Ross, spokesman for the Clarion Fund, a New-York based nonprofit organization that is paying newspapers to distribute the DVD. “It needs to be pushed to the forefront of the political discussion.” (Controversial film on Islam delivered nationwide, Yonat Shimron)
Copies of the DVD were distributed free at the DNC, and at the RNC by the recently formed group watch obsession.org. Earlier this year, the Florida Attorney General required employees to watch this video.
The DVD seems to only be distributed in swing election states. (‘Terror’ DVD Getting Delivered to Millions This Weekend—via Newspapers, Gregg Mitchell) “Aimed at voters in the battleground states the week of September 11, the film is more than a scare tactic or a campaign ploy. It smacks of classic propaganda, boosted through this clever marketing deal by association with the authority of the New York Times brand. The point is to frighten viewers and, it seems clear, to frighten American voters across the country in order to raise security concerns ahead of all other issues in the election.” (Right-Wing Terror Film Delivered To Swing-State NY Times Readers, Denise Dennis)
The DVD is being distributed as paid advertizing: “According to reports in the Huffington Post, 28 million copies of the film are being delivered this week. The DVD has already been inserted into copies of The New York Times distributed in Midwestern states. This weekend and next, it is slated to be distributed in many newspapers in the electoral battleground states of Ohio, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and Colorado, in addition to North Carolina.” (Muslims Rap DVD in Advertiser, Tim Funk) “Funding is coming from a New York-based group called the Clarion Fund, a shadowy outfit whose financial backers are unclear. ... Although supposedly a 501 c(3) non-profit, this week the Clarion Fund’s website featured an article supporting John McCain.” (Pro-McCain Group Dumping 28 Million Terror Scare DVDs in Swing States, Eric Ose)
‘’The threat of Radical Islam is the most important issue facing us today,’’ reads a paragraph on the sleeve of the DVD. ‘’But it’s a topic that neither the presidential candidates nor the media are discussing openly. It’s our responsibility to ensure we can all make an informed vote in November.’’ (Is DVD a wake-up call or propaganda?, Josh Drobnykj)
“Anyone can see an electoral vote pattern to the targeted areas, with almost all of the battleground or “swing” states represented. (The daily newspapers in only one such state appear to have refused the ad, Minnesota.) These papers have allowed themselves to be caught up in a “neo-con” propaganda scam in the context of the presidential campaign, and during 9/11 week. As of Saturday, September 13, the rationalizations of the publishers and ad personnel at the two N.C. newspapers were either beggarly excuses for new sources of revenue, or politically naïve in the extreme. (Delivering Propaganda, As If It is Toothpaste, William E. Jackson, Jr.)
And, even fringe groups like the United American Committee are getting in on the distribution and advertising of this DVD and sent out an email saying: “We are assisting in the distribution of MILLIONS of copies of the film ‘Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West’ launched by the Watch Obsession Committee. THIS SATURDAY an airplane hauling a banner with a menacing photo of bin-Laden will be flying over Los Angeles promoting the film, and at the same time a truck with the same message will be circling the streets of L.A., everyone in America must see this film and wake up to the threat posed to our way of life by Islamic aggression.”
Representatives from both presidential campaigns said they were not aware of the DVD mailing. (DVD on radical Islam offends Lemoyne recipient. Carrie Cassidy)
We think we have a watchdog in Washington, D.C. and that they are looking out for the community when it is under attack. This is not the first time that that watchdog has turned out to be toothless, deaf, dumb, and blind. This propoganda campaign against Islam and Muslims is one of the most serious concerted efforts to marginalize and demonize the entire American (and International) Muslim community that I can remember seeing in 30 years of Islamic work, and CAIR is silent when we need them to be speaking out loudly.
It is time for ordinary Muslims to demand answers from CAIR and our other national organizations. What are their resources, and where is the money going? Why is such a major incident being ignored?
In 2006 a Washington Post poll found that 58% of Americans say there are more violent extremists within Islam than in other religions and 46% have a negative view of Islam. In 2007, a CNN poll found that 53 percent of Americans believe conflict between Islam and Christianity is “inevitable,” up from 45 percent in 2003.
You can bet that this campaign will negatively influence the attitudes of Americans towards Islam and Muslims and that a poll done anytime in the next few months will show that percentage to have risen again, dramatically. You can also bet that lots of ordinary Muslims will have to answer questions from their co-workers, school-mates and neighbors in the coming weeks, and where will they get some help? Why is it that our key advocacy organization with a paid staff is unable to flag and identify issues and act proactively on behalf of the community?
As a community we need to wake up and realize that we need to be much more proactive at the grass-roots and to demand more of our national organizations. Contact CAIR National at:
453 New Jersey Avenue, S.E. Washington, DC 20003 Tel: 202.488.8787 Fax: 202.488.0833 email@example.com
Note: The Huffington Post has a list of the newspapers distributing the DVD
SEE ALSO: numerous resources in online article at http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/cairs_indifference_to_obsession_dvd_distribution/0016693