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I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Fox's election weekend propaganda marathon -- "Way more dangerous than Nazis"

Fox News has re-arranged its programming schedule this weekend -- why this weekend? -- in order to broadcast at five different times a genuinely demented fear-mongering propaganda film entitled "Obsession: The Threat of Radical Islam." The whole point of the film -- the only point -- is to show menacing footage of Muslims, accompanied by very scary music, and then assert, over and over, that they are devoted to killing all of us and that the threat they pose is exactly the same as the threat of Nazi Germany, except it's much, much worse.

Fox itself describes the film this way:

We often hear that 9/11 was a wake-up call for Americans. But have Americans really woken up to the truth of how much radical Islamists want us dead, and the lengths to which they are willing to go to fulfill their mission?

According to a shocking new documentary called "Obsession," the free world is still unprepared to face the unwavering commitment of those who have pledged their lives to our destruction. The film states that we suffer not so much from complacency, but from the naïve disbelief that we remain targets of thousands, perhaps millions of radical Muslims around the world.

The film takes the position that there is no middle ground for radical Islamists -- or Islamic fascists, to use the phrase invoked by President Bush . . . We see in “Obsession” how closely the Hitler youth bear resemblance to the young Islamic fundamentalists training with Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist groups.

Of course, Nazi Germany did not train children in the use of suicide belts, as the Islamic fascists do. But manipulating the pliant minds of youth toward fanatical hatred employs the same techniques. Unlike our confrontation with Nazi Germany, the current crisis may be worse . . . .

Thus, it may well be that today’s fascists are a far greater threat to the free world than the fascists of yesteryear. But there is still time to prevent them from gaining any more ground, if we begin to take the threat more seriously.

The last third of the film -- at least the excerpts I saw -- consists of scenes of Nazi Party rallies and German military parades, accompanied by horror-film music and interspersed with various people explaining that the Islamofascists are exactly the same as the Nazis, except -- to quote one of them -- "way more dangerous." That would be the same Nazi Germany whose army, even when already consumed by warfare against several large countries, still had "around 3 million [soldiers] (including 200,000 from its allies) [] available for Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union," and which also "included 142 infantry divisions, 17 panzer divisions and 4,000 tanks" (to say nothing of its vast air force and submarine fleet).

Fox says that the critical question answered by the film is this: "How determined to kill you is radical Islam?" To justify its decision to select this weekend (of all weekends) for saturating its airways with this extreme propaganda, Fox claims, falsely, that the film is a "shocking new documentary." In fact, it is actually a year old, having debuted at a film festival in 2005.

This film has to be seen to be believed. No description could do it justice. An abridged clip is here.

The irony that pervades this film, as well as Fox's promotional fear-mongering, is so glaring that it's hard to believe that anyone would overlook it. The central point of the film is that evil Islamic extremists are using fear-mongering tactics to get Muslims to hate the U.S. Worse, Islamic leaders -- in order to induce a desire to fight -- are telling their followers that they face a deadly and evil enemy which wants to dominate their countries and destroy them and their religion. The film menacingly explains that they even tell their followers that they are engaged in self-defense and that fighting is necessary to preserve their values and to survive. What sort of monsters would use rhetorical tactics like that?

Here, for instance, is what Itamar Marcus (from some group called "Palestinian Media Watch") says in the film about the evil fear-mongering tricks used by Muslim leaders:

What they are saying is that the U.S. is a threat, a danger to them, is trying to dominate them, is trying to turn the whole word into America, and this is what they are telling their people they have to fight against. . . .

One of the main ways they get the people to be willing to fight and endanger their lives and hate the west is to present the war as an act of self-defense. . . .

If you want to get people to fight, you have to make them think there is a threat and that they're in danger.

One shudders at the evil of those who would use such manipulative tactics. Similarly, a woman named Nonie Darwish, whom the film labels as a "Daughter of a Shaid (Martyr)," explains:

So in order for you to do jihad, you have to find a good reason, so the best reason is we are defending ourselves - there is an enemy out there who wants to get us.

Of course, one thing we can be thankful for is that -- unlike the violent, fear-mongering warriors they have -- our political and religious leaders (and television networks) are responsible and sober and would never use Fear of the Enemy, or religious fanaticism, as a means for justifying war. Consider, for instance, the peace-loving and inspiring speech delivered this week by Rev. David Clippard, Executive Director of the Missouri Baptist Convention, to which Sen. Jim Talent and Sen. Michael DeWine are making a pilgrimage this week:

Today, Islam has a strategic plan to defeat and occupy America . . . . What they are after is your sons and daughters . . . .They are coming to this country in the guise of students, and the Saudi government is paying their expenses . . . .They are trying to establish a Muslim state inside America, and they are going to take the city of Detroit back to the 15th century and practice Sharia (or Islamic) law there. . . .

Your freedom is on the floor with their foot on it, with their sword raised, and if you don't convert, your head comes off. . . .

I don't hate Islamic people . . . We need to love these folks, go after them and love them, one at a time. We need to crucify them with Christ.

And when is the last time George Bush or Dick Cheney delivered a speech or gave an interview without warning of the grave and unprecedented dangers we face from a mortal enemy that wants to destroy our society and everything we love and kill all of us?

In sum, Fox -- with the aid of the scariest music possible and continuous imagery of Nazis -- is inundating its viewers all weekend before the election with this implicit message:

Islamic religious leaders are evil and "way more dangerous" than Nazis. They want to kill each and every one of you and you are in severe danger like you've never previously imagined. These frightening Muslim leaders propagandize their followers by inculcating them with pervasive fear. They convince them that they have to fight in order to defend themselves against those who want to dominate them, deprive them of their religion, and kill them and their children.

Vote Republican so that you will be protected from these evil fear-mongering monsters who want to dominate you, deprive you of your religion, and kill you and your children.

This is the poison that the Bush movement has been feeding to this country for five years now, and like all toxins, it has had a devastatingly corrosive effect. Fear (and the desire for destruction which naturally accompanies it) is the only substance that fuels their movement, which is why the likes of Fox News, following in the footsteps of the Leaders whom they serve, have devoted themselves to the only goal they know -- flooding the country with as much fear as possible in the hopes that it will save their dying movement from full-scale political collapse.

Some day, this film will be an exhibit in a museum, powerfully illustrating what the Bush movement was and how its followers attempted to justify its conduct and keep it in power.

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