As John McCain falls farther and farther behind in the presidential election, and as events on Wall Street get uglier, the domestic political environment is turning toxic. Usually, in this environment you can expect anti-minority sentiment to seep into the mix. I’d expect a little anti-Semitism and perhaps racism directed against African-Americans from those who need someone to blame for the country’s misfortune.
Developments have not disappointed on that score unfortunately: crowds at McCain rallies are shouting racial epithets and calling for Obama’s death. Twisted souls like Andy Martin and Jerome Corsi get their 15 minutes of fame courtesy of FOX News and Mary Matalin, respectively, spouting unfounded lies about Obama’s secret Muslim origin or his alleged training as a community organizer to overthrow the government.
But a new strain has entered the civic discourse: anti-Muslim hate. It’s being stirred by various sources, but especially Jewish Republicans represented by the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Clarion Fund (which seems to be the surreptitious partisan political arm of Orthodox religious group, Aish HaTorah), producers of Obsession and Third Jihad.
Eli Clifton of Inter-Press Service has aptly likened these films to an Islamic version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Third Jihad, especially, apes the Protocols. The former notes the discovery of a supposedly secret Muslim document calling for the overthrow of the U.S. government and its replacement by a Muslim-inspired Shaaria government. The film calls for all Americans to be vigilant against the ominous secret cabal plotting for the overthrow of western democracy. In particular, they call for voters to enter the polling place having foremost in their mind which presidential candidate will best protect the union from such terror plotting.
Parallel to this, the RJC is spending over a million dollars on a broad campaign in the Jewish press to disseminate Obama smear ads, among them: “Barack Obama’s Friends: anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian, hostile to America.” (pdf) And the Jewish media outlets like Haaretz, JTA and The Forward are so addicted to the Halloween candy the RJC is handing out (potentially up to 20% of ALL annual ad revenue for ALL Jewish media) that they are refusing to exercise any judgment in rejecting the ads or demanding changes to ensure accuracy before they will air them. It’s a betrayal of journalistic integrity because after all, even FOX News has refused an anti-Obama ad from a right-wing extremist group.
I’m very proud to note that Los Angeles civic and religious leaders joined together yesterday to denounce Clarion’s campaign of hate, specifically the films Obsession and Third Jihad. Leaders of the Muslim Public Affairs Council joined leading rabbis, actor Mike Farrell and County sheriff Lee Baca in providing a solid front against Muslim racism.
Here is the excerpted statement from the newly formed Coalition for Renewing American Democracy:
We…come together united against hate and extremism. We believe that the best way to counter political and religious extremism is through cooperation…Those who divide our pluralism along the lines of religious or political views only further the cause of extremism. They profit from the fear generated from propaganda while we are on the front lines of pursuing effective public policy to eradicate terrorism.
We have come together to express our deep outrage over the recent distribution of a divisive and hate-provoking DVD called “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” to residents across the nation…. Invoking fear and anger in American voters is never the way to address the real problems of extremism and terrorism, and in a city as diverse and complex as Los Angeles — at a time of great economic uncertainty — this sort of hatred and blind tarring of a people and a faith is painful and dangerous.
America stands for…freedom of speech, freedom of religion, pluralism, and equality for all. The Coalition for Renewing American Democracy seeks to…renew America’s promise by engaging elected officials and community leaders to promote security and guard against discrimination.
A few days earlier, the Interfaith Alliance similarly joined together to denounce the films at a Washington, DC press conference. They were led by their chair, Rabbi Jack Moline.
Clarion’s original purpose in promoting these films during the election season was to depress the Jewish vote for Obama. Now, it appears all these efforts will have been in vain. But what’s important about the ongoing efforts to promote Muslim hate is that it could poison the atmosphere for the next president. We all remember the tremendous rancor that accompanied Bill Clinton’s presidency. His every move seemed shadowed by bitter conservatives seeking to read the worst motives into his actions. Eventually, this hatred coalesced around the impeachment effort.
With a possible Obama presidency, the element of race has been added to the mix. We all know the history of race in this country and how incendiary it can be. Do we really need to add that to the toxic partisan cocktail we’re currently being forced to drink? Or as Rodney King once said: “Can’t we all just learn to get along?”