The people who sent the Muslim-hating film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” to 28 million households in swing states as an insert in Sunday newspapers claim that they are simply performing a public service. Gregory Ross, the group’s spokesperson, helpfully told the Associated Press, “The American people should know radical Islam is a real threat to America. We don’t feel radical Islam is getting its fair share of press.”
Mr. Ross adamantly claims that he is not telling people who to vote for. And he has nothing against Islam itself or most Muslims. The film “makes a very clear and upfront distinction between the majority of peaceful followers of Islam and those people who subscribe to a radical Islamic ideology.”
Tell that to the pastor of a Lutheran church in Pennsylvania who just called my office, the Interfaith Youth Core. His congregation has been involved in several interfaith projects, including allowing a group of Muslims to use the church for worship on Friday evenings while their new mosque was being built. The church’s board was all for the arrangement, and the rest of the congregation was supportive as well.
But recently, this pastor has fielded several angry phone calls from congregants condemning the decision to allow “dangerous people” to use church space. Why these calls now, the pastor wondered. The answer was shockingly simple: Last week, his community received the film “Obsession” in the Sunday newspaper.
This is how Islamophobia works. First, you lay out the threat posed by radical Muslims. Then you make sure you state for the record that Islam is a perfectly fine religion and most Muslims are surely decent people. You are not a racist, simply a public servant. Finally, you coyly suggest that the problem is that you simply can’t tell the bad Muslims from the good Muslims. In fact, sometimes the bad Muslims pretend to be good Muslims. Sometimes the good Muslims protect the bad Muslims. And sometimes Muslims try to be good but they just can’t help themselves because after all their loyalty is to Islam, parts of which requires them to be bad. Not all of Islam is bad, of course. That would be a racist thing to say. Just the most important parts. And if you are a good Muslim, you have to follow the most important parts.
And so those Muslims who use your church for worship, or that guy named Ahmed who lives down the street, or that nice Mrs. Hassan who is on the PTA with you, you just never know. And it’s better to be safe than sorry.
I mean, have you seen this film called Obsession?