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Over the past few days, citizens of Los Alamos have begun receiving copies of a DVD entitled “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” in their mailboxes. This mailing is part of a campaign to distribute 28 million copies of this debunked and discredited three-year-old “documentary” throughout the most contested swing states in this year’s election. It is a blatant attempt by a shadowy “charity” calling itself the Clarion Fund to sway an election through fear.
The DVD itself is a mishmash of falsehoods and exaggerations sprinkled with very few facts. Jeff VanDenBerg, director of Middle East Studies at Drury University in Springfield, Mo, called the film “a blatant piece of anti-Muslim propaganda.” It misrepresents the statements of several fringe Islamic groups as attitudes of the mainstream, and it makes the demonstrably false claim that all terrorists are Muslim. Its purpose, in a nutshell, is to inspire fear in the American voter. In this goal, the producers and distributors have been sadly successful.
On Friday, Sept. 26, at the end of a week that saw thousands of copies of this DVD distributed through newspapers and the U.S. mail in Ohio, a “chemical irritant” was sprayed through a window of the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton, where 300 people were gathered for a Ramadan prayer service. The occupants of the targeted room were the infants and children of mothers who had gathered for prayer. While no one was seriously injured, and authorities refuse to connect the DVD to the attack, it is clear that an atmosphere of mistrust and misunderstanding of the faith already exists in this country to an extent that can easily be turned towards violence if enough fear is injected into the minds of Americans.
We are a better nation than this. Intolerance and religious persecution are not American values, and I, for one, will choose to stand on the side of those members of the Islamic tradition whom I have worked with and come to love throughout my years as a religious professional.
If you are as disturbed and angered by this blatant, and possibly illegal, ploy to sway an election through outright lies and fear as I am, I encourage you to return the DVD with your own message of outrage to Clarion Fund, 255 W. 36th St., Suite 800, New York, NY 10018.
Unitarian Church of Los Alamos