“Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West”

"Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West" will hit over 28 million homes this month in battleground states in the midst of an election already loaded with slurs, innuendoes, and backpedaling on issues that most concern Arab Americans. While the timing of this propaganda campaign crassly exploits the strong emotions associated with the seventh anniversary of September 11, 2001, the list of states targeted for distribution of the film reveals an effort to inflame passions in order to influence voters.
On the surface, "Obsession" resembles an educational DVD, but scratch that surface and you'll find a propaganda tool wielding fear and hatred in a direct attempt to influence America's vote. While the shadowy backers of this massive and costly enterprise have not been revealed, their political motives are all too clear. And what we can learn from the list of those who have circulated and endorsed this DVD is that they are using it to advance an anti-Arab, anti-Muslim agenda.
Many Arab Americans and American Muslims from different backgrounds have called and written to us expressing their deep concern about the impact that this video may have in their communities. What should our response be? We believe it should be a call to action. America needs a balanced understanding of Islam, not disinformation and fear. Our voices must be heard, now more than ever.
If we are silent, fear and ignorance threaten to overtake this election; it's time to make our voices heard. If we do not speak out against the kind of distortion and manipulation represented by "Obsession", the only voice that will be heard by the public is the voice being crafted by the mysterious Clarion Fund that is behind this propaganda campaign. Do you really want their voice to drown out your own?
Here's what you can do today:
  • Write your local newspaper and let them know how deeply disturbed you are by their acceptance of this transparently manipulative DVD from an unknown source. Demand that they find out who is behind the shady Clarion Fund--where their money comes from, who is on their Board and what is their agenda?
  • Let frequent advertisers in your newspaper know that their advertisements are now associated with a blatant attempt to disenfranchise and dehumanize Muslims and ask them if they really wish to be associated with such smears
  • Write an OpEd about the danger of fear-mongering.
  • Post this action alert in your blog, forward it to your friends on Facebook and MySpace; get in touch with political and news bloggers you read regularly and ask them what they think of this political campaign by a group with an agenda both partisan and hate-filled, and the news organizations that helped distribute it.
  • Get in touch with your local government and ask them to publicly denounce these distorted political tactics
They can only drown you out if you let them. Who will speak for you in January if you don't make your voice heard on November 4th? It's up to you. Support the representatives who speak on your behalf--in your state legislature, in the halls of Congress, and in the White House.
What can you do before November 4th?
1. Know your candidates.
Research your local and state races and ask them where they stand on civil rights and liberties in your own back yard. Are you following your Senate and Congressional races? For information about elections in your state, please visit http://www.capwiz.com/arab/dbq/officials/.
2. Register to vote.
Are you registered to vote? Do you know how to register, whether you live in the US or overseas? Are you friends and family registered to vote? Do you know where to go on November 4th?
To register to vote in the U.S.: https://ssl.capwiz.com/arab/e4/nvra/?action=form&state=
To register to vote from abroad: http://www.votefromabroad.org
To find where to vote on November 4th: maps.google.com/vote
3. Help others vote on November 4th
Leading up to the elections, volunteer to canvas your neighborhood or make phone calls on behalf of the candidates of your choice. If you've got a car, volunteer to drive people to the polls on November 4th. Yalla Vote '08 is coordinating an easy way for you and your friends to volunteer a few hours in October to connect with Arab American registered voters in your area; sign up online today at http://www.aaiusa.org/page/s/YallaVoteSignUp and the web-based instructions will be sent to you as soon as the lists are ready.
4. Get behind language to believe in.
There's a National Declaration of what matters to Arab Americans this election year, and it has been endorsed by over fifty Arab American organizations who support the Yalla Vote campaign. The language has been used by members of both parties to shape the language for platform planks submitted this summer. Thousands and thousands of individuals have signed the petition, but we can't continue to whisper. Circulate the petition, gather signatures, and let the next administration know that they will be held accountable for the issues of civil rights and liberties, and for the restoration of America's role as a true peace keeper in the world.
5. Vote like your life depends on it--because this year, it absolutely does.
For more information on how to volunteer to get out the Arab American vote, visit http://www.aaiusa.org/page/s/YallaVoteSignU
Arab American Institute
1600 K Street, NW Suite 601
Washington, DC 20006
www.aaiusa.org www.yallavote.org
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About Christina Zola

Christina is currently Director of Communications at the Arab American institute. She posts for b5 media and spearheads the Yalla Vote initiative. Christina has extensive background in communications, journalism, and Marketing.

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