For the past 29 days, if I wasn’t working late I would head over to my parents’ local mosque for the nightly taraweeh prayer. Held only during the month of Ramadan and performed after the last of five prescribed prayers, taraweeh takes worshipers through all the suras in the entire Quran from start to finish throughout the holy month. Unfortunately, Muslims in swing states do not have the freedom of praying freely this year.
On Friday, September 26, the end of a week in which thousands of copies of Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West – the fear-mongering, anti-Muslim documentary being distributed by (sic) the millions in swing states via DVDs inserted in major newspapers and through the U.S. mail — were distributed by 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 room that the chemical was sprayed into was the room where babies and children were being kept while their mothers were engaged in prayers.[DailyKos]
This is a cause and effect story. The cause is their cause; promote fear and paranoia of Muslims by mass distribuion of this video (which I am intentionally not linking to).
This week, 28 million copies of a right-wing, terror propaganda DVD are being mailed and bundled in newspaper deliveries to voters in swing states. The 60-minute DVDs, titled Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West, are landing on doorsteps in a campaign coinciding with the 7th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Funding is coming from a New York-based group called the Clarion Fund, a shadowy outfit whose financial backers are unclear…the DVDs were distributed last weekend in national editions of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal within selected swing states. These included Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Colorado, Iowa, Florida, Wisconsin, Nevada, New Hampshire and Virginia.[HuffingtonPost]
The effect of the fear-mongering — and keep this in mind, as you hear what conservatives are bound to say regarding how this DVD is only meant to call out ‘radical’ Islamists and not ‘moderate’ Muslims — has been tragic for Americans here at home. The following is a quote about a woman who was at the mosque, praying.
“She told me that the gas was sprayed into the room where the babies and children were being kept while their mothers prayed together their Ramadan prayers. Panicked mothers ran for their babies, crying for their children so they could flee from the gas that was burning their eyes and throats and lungs. She grabbed her youngest in her arms and grabbed the hand of her other daughter, moving with the others to exit the building and the irritating substance there…The paramedic said the young one was in shock, and gave her oxygen to help her breathe.” [DailyKos]
And of course, to add another layer of absurdity to the story, Dayton Ohio Police decided that the event was NOT a hate crime. Politics is a dirty game. There’s name-calling during the debates, mockery on SNL and ludicrous television ads, but I’m sure we can all agree that playing politics this dirty is divisive and does nothing to promote ‘Country First’ or ‘Change.’ The poisoning of little children during such a sacred month, while their parents are praying is about as low as I’ve seen politics get this election cycle.
“This isn’t political – Clarion Fund is a 501(c)3 and nowhere do they say they are pro-McCain,” some of you may say. But if it was not political, why would they send the videos out only in swing states? Associated Content elaborates:
Campaign tactics like those used by the Clarion Fund are meant to appeal to fears of the voters. It is meant to appeal to an emotional level. In psychological terms, this might precipitate a fight or flight response. With no direct threat of immediate personal harm, the fight response will most likely prevail. Add to this the public perception that the Republican Party handles defense issues better than Democrats, it is not too difficult to understand how the Republicans win elections… Fear is the strongest motivator of human action…The Clarion Fund is employing that motivator in swing states to potentially bring those states into the Republican fold and deliver to John McCain the electoral votes needed to become the next president.[AssociatedContent]
The Council on American Islamic Relations is calling for the Federal Election Commission to launch a probe into the Clarion Fund, who, if found to be electioneering will be in clear violation of their tax-deductible status. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is filing a lawsuit against the Department of Defense, for using the name and authority of an official U.S. military institution not only to validate an attack the religion of Islam, but to influence a political campaign.
So what can you do? If you are in one of the swing states and your newspaper sent you this DVD, let them know that you are unhappy about it. You can visit The American Muslim for more resources and information on the Obsession video. And finally, the next few days mark the end of Ramadan – you can tell a Muslim “Eid Mubarak”, today.
Question to the Mutiny: Are you in a swing state? Did you receive a DVD in your newspaper?