Middle East studies in the News
CAIR's Hollywood Crusade [incl. Hamid Dabashi]
by Mark Tapson
Thanks to a heads-up from terrorism expert Steven Emerson and his organization IPT, the Investigative Project on Terrorism, I learned that in late July Nihad Awad, the unctuous executive director and co-founder of CAIR, gave a lecture at Jordan's Kuta University entitled "The Experience of CAIR in Clarifying the Image of Islam in the West."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations has muscled its way into being the go-to Muslim-American mouthpiece for the benefit of the lazy and complicit mainstream media – including The O'Reilly Factor, where Awad recently appeared and attempted to smear the opponents of the planned Ground Zero monument to Islamic supremacism. He works tirelessly to advance the stealth jihad agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood, for which CAIR is a front group.
At Kuta, Awad spoke to students, professors, and the dean about "the international image of Islam," which he claimed had been "subject to insult and distortions since the first Crusade." He also presented practical steps that Muslims can follow to teach the world about Islam.
("Teach the world about Islam"? I think the world has already been learning a whole hell of a lot about Islam ever since 9/11, except for the willfully blind, such as New York's 2010 Dhimmi-of-the-Year frontrunner, Mayor Bloomberg. But I digress.)
Regarding these "insults and distortions," Awad pointed to the culpability of the Western media, especially in the field of cinema, claiming that "one Hollywood company alone created 800 films about Muslims in the last three decades in which it presented the figure of the Arabs and Muslims from an Israeli point of view."
This is either a bad translation or the kind of hyperbolic conspiracy theory that passes for fact in the Muslim world, where propaganda outlets like al-Jazeera spread anti-Western disinformation and lies, such as the notion that thousands of Jewish workers at the World Trade Center suspiciously stayed home on 9/11 (Iran's own Dr. Evil, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, reaffirmed this ludicrous charge as recently as last Saturday). No Hollywood company at all has made 800 films in the last three decades, much less 800 that featured and denigrated Arabs and Muslims.
The numbers he's referring to may be from the work of Jack Shaheen, an Arab-American (but non-Muslim) academic and pro-Palestinian apologist who has built a career on judging Hollywood's purported anti-Arab racism and discrimination. In his books such as Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People, he has scoured nearly 1000 movies for possible evidence of the stereotyping of Arabs and Muslims. Of course, striving for a balanced depiction is not the aim; his real goal, like CAIR's, seems to be to ensure that no depictions of Muslim terrorists are allowed, and that no connection is made between Islam and terrorism.
Since long before 9/11, CAIR has worked hard to steer Hollywood productions toward more and more sanitized depictions of Islam and Muslims, most famously in the 2002 film The Sum of All Fears, in which the filmmakers were convinced to swap out the original novel's Islamic bad guys for a less politically insensitive choice, neo-Nazis (yawn). And yet CAIR was initially frustrated with Hollywood's progress; at a White House rally almost exactly a year prior to the 9/11 attacks, Awad asserted that "Hollywood has not been our ally. Hollywood has distorted the facts. Hollywood has shown freedom fighters as terrorists. Hollywood has done the work that Zionists could not done [sic]."
How things have changed since 9/11. Apart from Obama himself, the Islamists almost couldn't have a better friend than Hollywood now. The whole story of Hollywood's multiculturalist appeasement and complicity with stealth jihad is a fascinating one which I can't do justice to here, so keep an eye peeled for my book next year. For now let's look at one specific example of how Hollywood has absorbed the Islamist influence and become their ally; in fact, since Awad brought up the Crusades in his Kuta speech, let's choose an appropriate film – 2005's Kingdom of Heaven.
Kingdom of Heaven is a Ridley Scott-directed epic starring Orlando Bloom and Liam Neeson about the Crusades and the battle for Jerusalem. Unsurprisingly, per Hollywood's usual morally inverted worldview, the film depicts the Crusaders as uncouth murderers and hypocrites, and Muslims as more dignified and morally superior.
But, you ask, the Crusaders weren't all saints, right? Didn't they commit some atrocities? Of course – it was the Middle Ages, for God's sake (pun intended). Those were brutal, cruel times. The point is that where this Clash of Civilizations is concerned, Hollywood has, since 9/11, almost invariably gone out of its way to assist Islamists like Awad in "clarifying the image of Islam in the West," as he would put it – in other words, rewriting history, denigrating Christianity and the West, and whitewashing Islam.
In Kingdom, for example, Jerusalem collapses under assault from the Saracen forces led by the legendary general Saladin. Saladin is shown to be a paragon of interfaith tolerance who offers medical assistance to his Christian opponent and spares Jerusalem's Christian defenders – although the inconvenient historical fact is that the Crusaders were required to buy their freedom, and those who couldn't afford it were sold into slavery.
Before the battle, Orlando Bloom's character tells the Christian defenders of Jerusalem that no one – Jew, Christian, or Muslim – has claim to the city: "All have claim." He urges them not to fight for the city itself, only the people within. This interfaith nonsense would have been unthinkable to the Crusaders, who had devoted their lives to recovering Jerusalem and the Holy Land from Muslim occupation and imperialism in the first place.
After Bloom's character strikes a deal to spare Jerusalem's defenders, the Saracens take the city and Saladin enters a church, where he makes a point of uprighting a fallen crucifix, showing an interfaith respect that he didn't in real life. When the real Saladin entered Jerusalem, his men ravaged many of the churches and all had their crosses removed. But of course, in multicultural Hollywood only Christians can be depicted as religiously intolerant.
One academic dismissed Kingdom of Heaven as "Osama bin Laden's version of history." CAIR, however, which was given a private screening by Ridley Scott, declared the film to be "a balanced and positive depiction of Islamic culture during the Crusades." News flash: anytime CAIR praises your work, you're on the wrong side of the issue.
The film also made use of an academic consultant, Hamid Dabashi, an Iranian-American intellectual who hurls accusations of racism and Western imperialism as reflexively as a Tourette's sufferer. Dabashi was also the consultant on the 2005 Oscar-nominated movie Paradise Now, a sympathetic portrayal of two Palestinian suicide bombers. He describes Israel as "a racist apartheid state" and "a military base for the rising predatory empire of the United States."
With this kind of "balanced and positive" perspective in the mix, no wonder CAIR approved of Kingdom of Heaven, which grossed $208 million while telling the world that: Christians are ruthless hypocrites who refuse to fight for a cause higher than their own lives; Jews and Christians have no special claim to Jerusalem; and Muslims are religiously tolerant and culturally superior. The film is a perfect example of how Nihad Awad would like to "clarify the image of Islam in the West."
CAIR and pro-Islamist academics aren't the only ones keeping up the pressure on Hollywood. Another Muslim Brotherhood front group, MPAC, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, even has a busy Hollywood Bureau, which indoctrinates educates filmmakers about Muslim customs and issues, offers script approval consultation, and hands out awards to Hollywood people and projects whose work depicts Muslims and Islam in a favorable light (past winners have included Michael Moore and Alec Baldwin). The Bureau also seeks to "connect aspiring Muslim filmmakers, writers and actors to Hollywood professionals." Just last week MPAC and Film Independent, the non-profit organization for indie filmmakers, held a Los Angeles networking mixer (if you didn't see it announced on Film Independent's website calendar, that's because it wasn't there; I was given a heads-up about it – again – by IPT.)
Why is any of this important? Because while violent jihad is a serious issue, the cultural front is where this Clash of Civilization and Barbarism will be won or lost. Islamists who are patiently but assiduously working to tear down Western civilization are shrewdly crafting Hollywood's subversive messages to the world. Is Hollywood as diligent in propagating a pro-American, pro-Western, anti-sharia narrative to export to the world?
I think we all know the answer to that.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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