Tim Townsend takes the high road -- of willful ignorance and dhimmitude. "Post-Dispatch refuses to distribute DVD offensive to American Muslims," by Tim Townsend for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 22 (thanks to H.M.):
Despite the perilous state of American newspapers, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch advertising department took an ethical stand and refused to distribute the DVD of a film that for two years has troubled American Muslims. [...]
In October 2006 (another election year) I wrote a story about how besieged the St. Louis Muslim community was feeling- the worst, many told me, since just after Sept. 11, 2001. A St. Louis screening of the “Obesession” [sic] movie featured in that story:
At the end of August, a thousand people — about half of them Jewish and half Christian, according to organizers — attended a screening of the movie “Obsession: What the War on Terror is Really About” at the Frontenac Hilton Hotel. The group’s sponsors promoted the movie with a provocative billboard featuring a dark-skinned man whose head was wrapped in a kuffiyeh and the words, “Confessions of a Terrorist.”
A "dark-skinned man" -- the not-so-thinly veiled message here, of course, is that resistance to jihad terrorism and Islamic supremacism is "racist."
The terrorist in question was Walid Shoebat, who said he was a former member of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Shoebat appeared in the hourlong movie and then spoke to the audience.
Muslims who were there said they were horrified by what they believed was the movie’s inference that Islam, terrorism and Nazism were one and the same, despite a disclaimer that ran at the beginning and end of the movie that said “most Muslims are peaceful and do not support terror.”
The movie makes no such "inference"; indeed, it goes out of its way to rule out any such conclusion. And in any case, its very existence shows up the glaring absence, seven years after 9/11, of any Muslim anti-terror effort. Every -- and I do mean every -- effort at raising awareness of and resistance to the jihad ideology and Islamic supremacism is met with claims from Muslim groups that all Muslims are being lumped together and labeled as terrorists, no matter how strenuously this is denied in the piece they're criticizing. We are supposed to believe that the Muslim groups that are complaining abhor jihad terrorism, but they resent that the presentation in question goes too far and tars all Muslims. I myself get this all the time, although I have never said at any time -- simply because it wouldn't be true -- that all Muslims are pursuing the Islamic supremacist agenda.
But if that were really true, it would be reasonable to expect that some of these anti-terror Muslims would produce something -- even one video or book -- that did right what Obsession and I and all the rest do wrong. In other words, it would explain clearly the difference between the Islamic beliefs of the terrorists and those of the peaceful Muslims, making a clear and sharp distinction between the two, and condemning -- not with weasel words and half-measures, but fully, honestly, forthrightly and wholeheartedly -- jihad violence and Islamic supremacism. Such a presentation, if it existed, would reassure many people and would be used as a model by anti-jihadists thereafter.
But it does not exist, and probably will not ever be made, and that in itself is extremely telling of the inadequacy and falsity of many of the assumptions people have today about the global jihad. People including Tim Townsend of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Far more upsetting, they said, was the reaction of the audience.
Writing in “The American Muslim” two weeks after the screening, [Sheila] Musaji said those Muslims who attended were “still experiencing physical and emotional distress primarily due to the positive reaction of the audience — including applause and standing ovations — and to some of the hateful comments we overheard from individuals sitting around us.”
As I have spoken at several screenings of Obsession and taken questions from the crowds, I am skeptical about Musaji's description of the audience reaction here. And I have had good reason to doubt Musaji's veracity in the past.
But if her claims are accurate, well, you know, we all have to live with a certain level of physical and emotional distress. I still suffer physical and emotional distress when I think of September 11, 2001, or March 11, 2004, or July 7, 2005, and the people who died on those days, and of the people who die in jihad terror attacks around the world up to this day, such as those who died in the attack at the Islamabad Marriott yesterday. And I wonder why Sheila Musaji has never written an article about the physical and emotional distress that peaceful Muslims suffer when their coreligionists commit violence in the name of their religion, and why she has never called upon those Muslims to stop committing acts of violence and supremacism in Islam's name. I further wonder why these distressed Muslims were not distressed by the exhortations to jihad violence voiced by Muslim preachers in the film as much as they were by the audience reaction to the film.
Fatemeh Keshavarz, head of Washington University’s department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages, who was at the screening, said: “This was hate speech, pure and simple. … being in that room, I felt threatened.”
It would have been kind of her to specify what exactly in the film was "hate speech." The only obvious hate speech was the exhortations to jihad violence and hatred of the Jews coming from jihadist preachers. But they were on film, and were filmed not by the producers of Obsession but by TV cameras in their own countries, where their hateful messages were broadcast approvingly.