I ran across a blogger innocently enough inviting her readers to look at some films all devoted to the idea that radical Islam is a threat to America. Radical anything in my view is not a good thing but is somebody specifically zeroing in on "radical Islam" to put forward a personal or political agenda which is not focusing on the bigger picture? I researched the 2005 documentary "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West" and the 2009 documentary "The Third Jihad". I discovered the film maker and/or producer is Raphael Shore, a Canadian-Israeli film writer, producer, and rabbi. I found out he is the founder of The Clarion Fund, a non-profit organization that seeks to advance the idea that the United States is threatened by radical Islam.
On the official move web site for Obsession, I find this quote from Glenn Beck: "I believe this is the most important movie of our lifetime, I was born in 1964, I can't tell you of a movie that I think is more important."
Glenn Beck himself admits that he is an entertainer. "I'm a rodeo clown."(NY Times) That pretty much sums up how I take Beck seriously about anything. He is a ring wing Conservative extremist who sees conspiracies everywhere and whose message to America is one of fear. Like Chicken Little saying the sky is falling, Beck represents everything which is nutty at the far end of the spectrum. Sadly, his popularity indicates that there are many Americans who share in his dismal, myopic, America-centric view of the world.
Beck's endorsement of the film Obsession is for me a warning light, a red flare, a compressed air horn alerting me to the danger of a biased, narrowly focused analysis of the situation.
I return to my original question: what should we be afraid of?
Timothy McVeigh was Roman Catholic
The Oklahoma City Bombing of April 19, 1995 was the deadliest act of terrorism within the United States until 9/11. 167 people were killed and more than 680 injured. The perpetrator, Timothy McVeigh, was Roman Catholic. (Wikipedia)
Anders Breivik is Protestant
The Norway attacks took place on July 22, 2011 and consisted of two events. The bombing of a government building in Oslo resulted in eight deaths and the mass shooting at a camp on the island of Utøya left 69 people dead. The perpetrator, Anders Breivik, is Protestant. (Wikipedia)
Baruch Goldstein was Jewish
Hebron is the largest city in the West Bank in Israel and home to about 165,000 Palestinians. On February 25, 1994, this American-born Jewish physician, dressed in his army uniform, entered the Cave of the Patriarchs serving as a mosque carrying an IMI Galil assault rifle and four magazines of ammunition, which held a total of 140 rounds in 35 rounds per each magazine. Standing in front of the only exit from the cave and positioned to the rear of the Muslim worshippers, he opened fire, killing 29 people and wounding another 125. According to survivors, he bided his time until sojud, the prayer said while worshippers kneel towards Mecca. After someone in the crowd hurled a fire extinguisher which struck him on the head, he was overcome and then beaten to death. Baruch Goldstein was Jewish. (Wikipedia)
Pastor Terry Jones is Christian
This Gainesville, Florida minister announced to the world his plan to burn the Qur'an on September 11, 2010, the ninth anniversary of 9/11. In his opinion, Islam is "a false religion" that will lead people to hell. Due to protests from all sectors of society including President Obama, Jones didn't do it. However, he did carry out his threat on March 20, 2011 and burned the Holy Book. On April 1, 2011 protestors in the northern Afghanistan city of Mazar-i-Sharif, protesting this burning, attacked a United Nations Assistance Mission, killing at least 12 people, including at least 7 U.N. workers. (Wikipedia)
Dominionism: Christian Governance of the United States
On August 14, 2011, The Daily Beast published an article by Michelle Goldberg entitled "A Christian Plot for Domination?" in which she describes how Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry are closely associated with a theocratic strain of Christian fundamentalism known as Dominionism. Let's touch upon a couple of points to ensure we all know the details. Theocracy is a form of government in which a state is understood as governed by immediate divine guidance provided to ruling clergy or other ruling officials. (Wikipedia) Dominionism, in the context of politics and religion, is the tendency among some politically active conservative Christians to seek influence or control over secular civil government through political action, especially in the United States. (Wikipedia)
Ms. Goldberg writes: "Put simply, Dominionism means that Christians have a God-given right to rule all earthly institutions." This statement is startling and just a tad hard to believe. In fact the author goes on to point this out by saying that "ordinary people" call her and others writing about this as paranoid. However, Ms. Goldberg comes to the table with quite a degree of authority on the subject being the author of the book "Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism", her thorough firsthand reporting of the Christian right In America. (see my blog: Michele Bachmann and the far, far, far, far, far right)
Dearborn, Michigan: Watch out for extremists!
On June 18, 19 and 20, 2010, Dearborn played host to the 15th Annual Dearborn Arab International Festival. As per the web site of American Arab Chamber of Commerce, this event is described with the following: "Highlights of the festival include 30-international food booths, large carnival, interactive children's stage, Arab merchandise, calligraphy, and bread making." Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reilly Jr. and Dearborn Police Chief Ron Haddad call the festival a family event.
During the festival, four "Christian" missionaries of a small extremist group called the Acts 17 Apologetics which actively seeks to convert Muslims to Christianity were arrested by police for disturbing the peace when they deliberately escalated their disruptive behaviour for the purposes of inciting an incident. Surprisingly enough, the initial complaint lodged against the group was made by a Christian volunteer at the festival.
The papers were awash in the false story of Christians being arrested by Muslims or because of Muslims. Even Newt Gingrich weighed in on this by stating in a letter: "This is a clear case of freedom of speech and the exercise of religious freedom being sacrificed in deference to shari'a's intolerance against the preaching of religions other than Islam."
The Christian mayor, the Christian chief of police and the Christian arresting officers testified that this group comes to Dearborn with the intent to disrupt a local cultural festival and misrepresent facts in order to further their mission of raising funds through emotional response. Newt Gingrich thinks this indicates shari'a law? (see my blog: Dearborn, Michigan: Watch out for extremists!)
Extremism: I'm right and you're wrong
Radical Islam is a threat. Yes, but radical Christianity is a threat. Radical anything is a threat. We sit in a country where the majority seem to be Christian. The country claims to be multi-cultural but just how pluralistic is it really? How much xenophobia do we collectively have? We fear what we do not understand so just how much do we understand and how much have we attempted to understand without fear mongering? (see my blog: Extremism: I'm right and you're wrong)
"We have met the enemy and he is us."
- Pogo by cartoonist Walt Kelly (1913 - 1973)
All extremists should be taken out and shot.
- Anonymous but repeated by comedian Steven Wright
Are we worrying about the right things?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 33,808 people died in traffic accidents in the United States in 2009.
According to UNAIDS.Org 1.8 million died from AIDS in 2009. In the United States, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 18,000 people die each year from AIDS.
The World Health Organisation estimates that almost one million people die from suicide every year. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), there were 34,598 suicides in the United States in 2007.
The World Health Organisation estimates that 1.6 million are murdered each year worldwide. The CDC states there were 18,361 homicides in 2007.
Radical is not a good word. Extremism is not a good word. There are two problems with the expression radical Islam.
First of all, it puts the focus on Islam and doesn't put the focus on radical. It completely misses the fact that there are radical Christians whose aim in life is to take over the country and eventually to take over the world.
Secondly, it poorly assesses radicalism, where it comes from and how to deal with it. Let's not forget that the Bush administration convinced all of us, convinced the world that it had to invade Iraq because of weapons of mass destruction and its links to al Qaeda. It has been proven many times over that neither one of those reasons was valid. (see my blog: Donald Rumsfeld, 9/11 and the War on Terror)
Fear mongering does what exactly? Are you going to start distrusting your Muslim neighbours? Will you avoid shopping at Muslim owned stores? Is one of you going to take it upon themselves to spray graffiti on the wall of the local mosque? Where is anybody going with this? Are the newspapers going to print pictures of the villagers armed with torches storming the Islamic centre?
When I read about the attacks in Norway carried out by a supposed Christian, I was shocked. When I watched the television coverage of Pastor Terry Jones burning the Qur'an, I was ashamed. When I see the media coverage of ring wing Conservative extremists like Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry or even Glenn Beck, I am afraid of the possible direction in which the vocal minority could take the country, could take all of us. Distrust begets distrust. Hate begets hate. Violence begets violence.
Radical Islam is a threat to America? How about radical Christianity? What about radical anything?
Wikipedia: Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West
Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West, also called Obsession, is a controversial 2005 documentary film about the perceived threat of radical Islam to Western civilization. Using extensive Arab television footage it claims to give an 'insider's view' of the hatred preached by radicals to incite global jihad and seek world domination. It also draws parallels between WWII's Nazi movement and Islamism and the West's response to those threats.
movie web site: Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West
"I believe this is the most important movie of our lifetime, I was born in 1964, I can't tell you of a movie that I think is more important." - Glenn Beck, CNN Headline News
Wikipedia: Clarion Fund
Clarion Fund is a New York City-based nonprofit organization founded in 2006 whose stated mission is "to educate Americans about issues of national security," with its main focus on what it calls "the most urgent threat of radical Islam." The organization was founded by Canadian-Israeli film producer Raphael Shore.
Clarion Fund: National Security Through Education
CLARION FUND, Inc. is an independently-funded non-profit organization that produces and distributes documentaries on the threats of Radical Islam.
Wikipedia: The Third Jihad
The Third Jihad: Radical Islam's Vision For America is a  documentary film made by Wayne Kopping on the subject of radical Islam in present day United States. (Produced by Raphael Shore)
movie web site: The Third Jihad: Radical Islam's Vision for America
The Third Jihad, the newest offering from the producers of the captivating documentary film, Obsession, explores the existence of radical Islam in America and the emerging risk that this “homegrown jihad” poses to national security, western liberties and the “American way of life.”
Wikipedia: Raphael Shore
Raphael Shore is an Canadian-Israeli film writer, producer, and rabbi. He is the founder of The Clarion Fund, a non-profit organization that seeks to advance the idea that the United States faces a threat of radical Islam.
Wikipedia: Zuhdi Jasser
Zuhdi Jasser, also known as M. Zuhdi Jasser, and Mohamed Zuhdi Jasser, is a commentator on the topic of the Islamic faith in the United States, and the President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy based in Phoenix, Arizona. A medical doctor, he is a former Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy, and staff physician to the U.S. Congress.
According to The Washington Post, Jasser's group has "made two controversial films about the dangers of radical Islam". Jasser was featured in the PBS film Islam v Islamists. He was the main narrator in the Clarion Fund film, The Third Jihad, which claims that Muslim radicals have infiltrated the U.S. in order to overthrow the government and establish an Islamic state. The claims of stealth jihad and cultural jihad are based on a single document written by a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1990s that was used in a successful U.S. prosecution of an Islamic charity for laundering money to Hamas. According to The New Republic the producer of the film has ties to the Israeli settlement movement. Although Jasser has said he does not agree with everything in the film, he supports the overall message. Jasser also appeared in the 2010 Newt Gingrich film, America At Risk: The War With No Name, a production of Citizens United. The film claims there is a global movement to impose sharia law on all aspects of society and has been described as "anti-Obama" by The Nation.
Wikipedia: Jack Moline
Jack Moline (born August 10, 1952) is an American Conservative rabbi who has served as rabbi of Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria, Virginia since 1987 and Director of Public Policy for the Rabbinical Assembly since 2009, and is a past Chair of the Board of the Interfaith Alliance.
In 2008, he was named by Newsweek magazine as one of the top pulpit rabbis in America (#3 in a list of 25), and in 2010 and 2011 as one of the 50 most influential rabbis in America. He has served in numerous leadership positions for Jewish, interfaith, and community organizations, and has advised key religious and political leaders of the United States on issues of religion and values. In 1995, he helped write President Bill Clinton's famous "Shalom, Haver" eulogy for Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Wikipedia: Jack Moline: Interfaith affairs
He has also taken a strong stand against those who attack Islam in general or individual Muslims regardless of their own words and actions, and therefore was a strong voice among those who rebuked Republican congressman Allen West for his “intemperate” comments about Muslim Democratic congressman Keith Ellison and his Islamic faith. Moline was also one of the religious leaders to speak out against Rep. Peter T. King’s 2011 congressional hearings on "the radicalization of American Muslims." In 2009 he spoke on the topic of "Preventing Future Holocausts" during a tour of the United States Holocaust Museum by a group of rabbis and imams from ten European nations.
Moline is on the steering committee of "Shoulder to Shoulder: Standing with American Muslims; Upholding American Values," which describes itself as "a campaign of national faith-based organizations and religious denominations to promote tolerance and put an end to anti-Muslim bigotry." In a March 2010 statement, the group wrote that
"As American religious leaders, we share a deep sense of obligation to call upon our fellow citizens to treat each other with compassion and honesty, and to foster an ethical commitment to bedrock American values such as pluralism and religious freedom, mutuality and respect—values also at the core of our religious traditions."
For similar reasons, he was an outspoken critic of the 2005 documentary film "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West," which he described as "a thinly-veiled call for disparagement and distrust of all Muslims."
Wikipedia: Veneration of Goldstein and celebration of the massacre
The gravesite has become a pilgrimage site for "Israeli extremists"; a plaque near the grave reads "To the holy Baruch Goldstein, who gave his life for the Jewish people, the Torah and the nation of Israel."
At Goldstein's funeral, Rabbi Yaacov Perrin claimed that even one million Arabs are "not worth a Jewish fingernail."
Samuel Hacohen, a teacher at a Jerusalem college, declared Goldstein the "greatest Jew alive, not in one way but in every way" and said that he was "the only one who could do it, the only one who was 100 percent perfect."
In the weeks following the massacre, hundreds of Israelis traveled to Goldstein's grave to celebrate Goldstein's actions. Some Hasidim danced and sang around his grave.
Some visitors kissed and hugged the gravestone, or even kissed the earth under which Goldstein was buried, declaring him a "saint" and "hero of Israel."
New York Times - Mar 9/1994
From Orthodox Jewish Education to Hebron; Scripture Distorted
To the Editor:
"One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail," said Rabbi Yaacov Perrin in his eulogy of Dr. Baruch Goldstein (news article, Feb. 28). The original Hebraic phraseology comes from the Midrash to Deuteronomy which, typically, elaborates on the sparse biblical description of the death of Moses.
God informs Moses that He can either pardon the Israelites for having made the Golden Calf or permit Moses to enter the Promised Land, but not both, whereupon Moses immediately responds, "Let Moses and a thousand like him be destroyed but let not the fingernail of a single Israelite be harmed."
That the lunatic fringe of the ultra-orthodox distort the ethical humanism of all that is noblest in the Zionist dream is not enough. They also diabolically distort Jewish sacred texts out of all recognition. The question "Who is a Jew?" begins to assume unforeseen dimensions when "The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose." (Rabbi) ALAN W. MILLER Clinical Associate Prof. of Theology in Psychiatry, Cornell Medical College New York, March 1, 1994
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