In case you somehow missed it, last week the New York Times spent an enormous amount of ink excoriating a film entitled "The Third Jihad," and denouncing the fact that it had been shown to officers-in-training at the NYPD. Financed in part by the Clarion Fund, a right-wing non-profit whose board, the Times notes, includes a former CIA official, the film describes and warns of the activities and aims of a number of Islamists and radical Islamic groups in America.
Much of what the Times objects to is a group of clips from You-Tube videos in which Islamist leaders speak of taking over the United States, of their dream of flying the flag of Islam from the White House, of the importance of destroying the infidel. The Times, however, in describing the film as "hateful," does not mean that these clips themselves are hateful; no, they mean that allowing the NYPD to see that they exist is hateful. In other words, they have no problem with the video clips themselves; but with those who expose them. Hence perhaps they would prefer to discipline You Tube for broadcasting them, for giving people the impression that Islamists want to destroy America – and we can't have people thinking that.
In fact, in an editorial, the Times, sounding appalled, says "the film shows some of the grisliest terrorist attacks in recent years and argues that the real agenda for Islamists in America is to infiltrate and dominate the country."
Yet interestingly, that's what many Muslims say, too — Muslims who are not extremists, Muslims who are integrated into Western life, Muslims who are at much at risk of death and destruction from these same Islamist leaders – and, indeed, the Muslim who narrated "The Third Jihad," Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser. Would the Times then argue that they are "self-hating Muslims" for wanting these fanatics exposed? Should we ignore the fact that pious Muslims — like Zuhdi Jasser — are regularly targeted by these Islamists for assassination? Or do they not recognize the difference between Islam and Islamism? Do they think all Muslims are Islamists?
I have news for them: They aren't. And the Times should apologize to the entire American Muslim community for suggesting otherwise.
What I find particularly galling is the overall holier-than-thou approach that the paper's editors seem to take on this issue. Imagine, if you will, a Christian cleric calling for the death of all Muslims. Imagine, if you will, a Muslim group showing to other Muslims a video of said cleric making said remarks. Who would the paper of record fault in this case: the Christian cleric, or the Muslim who exposed him? We know the answer, of course: the fanatical cleric would be vilified; the Muslim who exposed him, applauded. And rightly.
So why is this case different?
And yet, the article begins:
"Ominous music plays as images appear on the screen: Muslim terrorists shoot Christians in the head, car bombs explode, executed children lie covered by sheets and a doctored photograph shows an Islamic flag flying over the White House."
These are, of course, very real images of very real events, with the exception of the image of the Islamic flag. But it was not the makers of the film who "doctored" that image. It was the Islamists themselves, people like, for instance, British Islamist Anjem Choudary, who has stated, "Freedom and democracy are idols that must be destroyed and replaced with obedience to Allah " and who has presented, as well, photos not only of the Islamic flag waving over the White House, but also of Buckingham Palace transformed into a mosque.
Apparently, that's only a problem to the Times, though, if a non-Muslim organization brings this to public attention. (Fareed Zakaria has, by the way, done just this in an interview with Choudary on CNN – as have I in an earlier article here.) That the NYPD, which is responsible for maintaining public safety in the world's top target for Islamic terrorists, should happen to be provided this information, however, is apparently not only unnecessary, but egregious.
Responsible journalism demands that a journalist be honest, objective, and informed. One expects at least this much from the paper of record. I, for one, always have – even notwithstanding the Times unforgettable – and unforgivable – coverage of the run-up to the war in Iraq.
Yet nothing whatsoever in these articles indicates that the reporter, Michael Powell, was any of these things. It is notable, for instance, that while attempting to investigate Clarion, the film's sponsors, he made no effort whatsoever to look into the real motivations behind CAIR's objections to the film – or to question the reliability and decency of the source. CAIR is, in case the Times hadn't heard, an "unindicted co-conspirator" in the so-called "Holy Land Foundation trial," and several of its founding members have been convicted of providing funding to terrorist groups. As a result, the FBI, which had previously worked closely with the organization, has cut off all ties with the group, as have other government organizations.
Even more egregious, however, is the fact that Mr. Powell failed to – or chose not to – mention the very pronounced disclaimer at the beginning of "The Third Jihad. " Consequently, millions of Times readers were informed that the film claims, "This is the agenda of Islam in America." It does not. In fact, to the contrary, "The Third Jihad" opens with the statement, "This is not a film about Islam. It is about the threat of radical Islam. Only a small percentage of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims are radical."
Those radical Muslims can, and do, often post videos and other materials on the Internet in an effort to recruit young Muslims for their jihad. (Or does the Times think that Clarion made them up?) Anwar Al Awlaki, the American-born cleric whom President Obama called "the leader of external operations for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula" and who was killed in a drone strike last September, is a prime example. (See here for a sampling.)
But because the Times keeps confusing (distorting?) these two very distinct viewpoints, I can't help but wonder: Doth the "gray lady" protest too much? Does the New York Times believe that all Muslims are radical? Because if they don't, then this film can't possibly disturb them – and in fact, they should welcome it, and the fact that the NYPD is aware of the truths that it reveals. Yet from everything they've said in regard to this issue, it would appear that, despite themselves, it is they, not the makers of "The Third Jihad," who are the real Islamophobes here.
I consider myself a liberal, largely tolerant, except of racism and extremism, dishonesty and hate. And that's exactly the point. There is a line at which tolerance becomes intolerance, and open-mindedness becomes stupidity. It is essential not to cross it.
The New York Times just did.