Sunday, September 16, 2012

America: Connect the Dots

The recent tragic death of the US Ambassador and four staff members of the US Embassy in Libya by asphyxiation in the embassy fire ignited by the irate Libyans reminded me of a nomad’s satire. The nomad walks into a café and gives a verdict on the cosmos by saying “I love the moon and hate the sun.” Baffled patrons in the café ask the nomad about his love and hate relationship with the moon and the sun. The nomad explains. “I love the moon because it brightens the night and guides us to find our ways and then he adds, I hate the Sun because it comes out only during the day when it is bright anyway!” Most people miss the most obvious especially when thinking is fogged with emotions. While we condemn the senseless violence and mourn the loss of innocent lives in Libya, I cannot help but remind myself of an incident four years ago in September 2008. About 60 days before the Presidential elections in September 2008, millions of Americans in 14 battleground states received a DVD gift in the mail, titled: “Obsession : Radical Islam’s War Against the West.” That movie was produced by Rabbi Raphael Shore for a tax-exempt New York-based charity by the name “Clarion Fund ” with connections to a strongly pro-Israel Jewish educational organization – Aish HaTorah based out of Israel and an office in the United States. Clarion Fund did not just produce Obsession but also produced The Third Jihad and Iranium. News analysis at the time helped many Americans connect the dots about the September 2008 DVD being used to influence the November 2008 Presidential elections. Now, in September 2012, the world learns of yet another movie, The Innocence of Muslims. More dot-connecting is required. Los Angeles Times reports that the movie was filmed and produced in Southern California but in much mystery. Allegedly, the producer is a Coptic-Christian of Egyptian origins holding extreme anti-Islam views. And then there is a movie consultant and scriptwriter, Steve Klein, based out of the City of Hemet who claims to know but refuses to reveal the identities of those associated with the film in various capacities. Although much is shrouded in mystery, the movie consultant has revealed himself as did some of the production crew-members. And according to the Associated Press a person identifying himself as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula may in fact be Sam Bacille who initially was reported to be “the” man behind the movie. Much uncertainty remains but what we do know for certain is that this 14 minute movie has already contributed four American deaths. The nation is in mourning and political tensions are rising in the region. Conservative political leaders often speak of pre-emptive police action against American Muslims, particularly in Los Angeles. Muslim-American political rights are, to them, expendable. But when right-wing cranks like Steve Klein seek to inflame passions that lead directly to American deaths too many conservative pundits and politicians have preferred to blame President Obama. It is time for American conservatives to criticize the hatred in their own ranks. A more thoughtful position would be to criticize both the film and those carrying out the violence in Libya and other countries. An effort to label President Obama as a Muslim or a Muslim sympathizer – as if being a Muslim is unacceptable – is likely to again sweep the political rights. Mainstream conservatives should denounce such bigotry and Americans should be connecting the dots leading from September 11, 2012 leading to the election on November 6, 2012. ----------------------

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