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“Today, everyone who subscribed to or purchased their Sunday Oregonian received, unbidden, a copy of Wayne Kopping’s Obsession: Radical Islam’s war against the West, a packaged DVD that purports to show us the threat of worldwide radical Islam. It is disturbing and contains enough fact and truth to spur a logical and correct rejection of the ghastly beliefs and conduct of radical Islamicists……”
Author: Tom H. Hastings, professor in Conflict Resolution Program at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon
For the full article:
by Tom H. Hastings
Today, everyone who subscribed to or purchased their Sunday Oregonian received, unbidden, a copy of Wayne Kopping’s Obsession: Radical Islam’s war against the West, a packaged DVD that purports to show us the threat of worldwide radical Islam. It is disturbing and contains enough fact and truth to spur a logical and correct rejection of the ghastly beliefs and conduct of radical Islamicists.
Obsession is also connected to both the Israeli intelligence service and Christian evangelicals via Middle East Media Research Institute, according to SourceWatch.org.
Naturally, then, it is an hour of pure propaganda funded in part by the rightwing Olin Foundation for a continued and greater Global War on Terror, the current justification for a military budget thatâ€”including all military expenditures, many of which are improperly not counted as militaryâ€”tops $1 trillion in 2009. With the election coming in a month, can the timing of distribution in the Oregonian be coincidence? Since it is being distributed to 28 million Americans in battleground states, um, no.
The sequencing in the film reveals a pattern that becomes itself more and more obsessed with conflating radical Islam with Nazi Germany and sets it up as though we are in the 1930s, ignoring the threat. Has anyone mentioned to the makers of the film that the U.S. spends as much as the rest of the world combined on our military? Are they aware of the reach of the U.S. militaryâ€”more than 700 bases on the foreign soil of more than 140 other nations? We are occupying one Islamic nation, funding the occupation of another, propping up corrupt rulers of several others and openly contemplating and debating attacking yet another. How much more commitment do these people want?
It is truly disgusting to watch Muslim ‘clerics’ practice their twisted version of hatred and objectification. Anyone who defends or tolerates that revisionist theology should rethink their moral code. Calling on believers to kill Jews or any other kuffar (non-Muslim) is loathsome.
However, there are sections of the film that defy logic and history. For example, in interviews with several principle subjects, astonishment is expressed at the possibility that foreign policies of the U.S. or the UK might have contributed to the growth of jihad. Actually, the record is quite clear on this point; the foreign policy of the U.S. and UK helped exacerbate and foment jihad at many turns, from the killer sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s to the unconditional military aid to the Israeli Defense Force (at greater levels than any other nation on Earth every year), to the support for corrupt Middle Eastern governments such as Egypt’s Mubarak and the Saudi royals, to the U.S. occupation of places regarded as holy by Muslims (U.S. troops first in Saudi Arabia and now controlling Iraq).
There is plenty of blame to go around, but right now the most productive path forward is dialog based on lessons learned, on caution but on the determination to support nonviolence and democracy, not the armed control of any nation. The way forward that will do the most good for the most people of our nation and all others is that of discussion, disagreement, negotiation, and, more than anything, respect for those in the vast majority who want tolerance and peace, not hatred and war. Obsession reveals as much about the fixation of the filmmakers and their funders as it does about that of the radical Islamicists. Neither should have a place in the 21st century.
Tom H. Hastings (firstname.lastname@example.org) teaches in the MA/MS Conflict Resolution program at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon.