Dennis Wagner of the Arizona Republic broke the story on April 10, 2007 about PBS's censorship of the documentary, Islam vs. Islamists from its America at a Crossroads series which debuted this week. The film's producers, Frank Gaffney, Alex Alexiev and the veteran filmmaker, Martyn Burke of ABG Films, Inc. have since presented in shocking detail their painful protracted experiences trying to navigate the censors at PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting which funded the film with $675,000 of the taxpayers' monies but now has chosen to shelve it. In just the last week of public debate, there has been a firestorm of outcry from the public who are demanding that oppressive methods of editorial content control by power brokers at PBS be investigated and the real story behind the shelving of Islam vs. Islamists be exposed. PBS's exploitation of the public dime and the public airwaves for the narrow point of view of the Islamist sympathizers with the exclusion of the anti-Islamist Muslims is just now beginning to be understood.
As one of the subjects of the documentary, I was able to experience first-hand the professionalism and in-depth journalistic standards of veteran filmmaker, Martyn Burke, and his first-class team of consummate professionals. It was refreshing to have a documentary set out objectively to look into the deep-seated internal struggles of anti-Islamist Muslims like myself. Our work at the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) here in Phoenix has been riddled with continual blowback and resistance in many forms from the power structure of the activist Muslim community in the Phoenix Valley. The Valley Council of Imams, the local Muslim Voice newspaper, and organizations like CAIR-AZ have provided a laboratory of typical Islamist responses to an American organization of Muslims, like AIFD, who are trying to rescue spiritual Islam from the death grip of Islamists--Islam vs. Islamists. I do this out of love for my faith and its spiritual path to the God of Abraham in order to free it from the corruption of the political imam which has become so ubiquitous.
I have previously discussed the harm of our government's enabling of Islamists (like CAIR, MPAC, MAS, MSA, or ISNA) in the United States and how the governmental endorsement of Islamists publicly empowers them and allows them to dodge their responsibility of countering Islamism as an ideology. This order of magnitude is greater in impact when it concerns the media's inability to wage the debate of the "struggle for the soul of Islam". Stories about Islam and Muslims have been more and more ubiquitous since 9-11 and now are actually commonplace. Yet, the actual debate within the Muslim community has barely begun. Where's the disconnect? Look no further than the Islamist enablers in the media.
When so many ask across the nation, "where are the moderate voices of Islam?", one cannot help lately but exclaim that they are being suffocated by misguided political correctness and by Islamist influence within mainstream media and government. The PBS censorship of the documentary, Islam vs. Islamists, highlights one of the best examples to date of the symbiosis of both government complicity and media complicity with the Islamist ideology.
The recent RAND corporation research project highlighting the dire need to Build Moderate Muslim Networks in this new global "long war" against militant Islamism and its ideological siblings will never come to fruition with the current blinded pro-Islamist mainstream media approach. The mainstream media (MSM) is apparently blind to the real ideology of Islamism and they allow Islamists to hide their theocracy behind minority politics. The MSM not only avoids the free flow of ideas within the Muslim community, it effectively allows the Islamists completely to stifle any and all debate which would have allowed Muslims to question those in positions of authority within the Islamic community.
It is time for the MSM to stop protecting Muslims from one another and to stop stifling the debate many anti-Islamist Muslims would like to wage against leading Islamists. If Muslims are going to form a public expression of Islam which is reconciled with western democracies which separate religion and government, this debate against Islamism needs yet to begin, let alone blossom into cultural change for Muslims.
Islamists fear nothing more than credible and genuine debate against the core political ideology of Islamism from pious anti-Islamist Muslims. With an ideological counter from anti-Islamist Muslims- the Islamist emperor "has no clothes". At every level, they are using America's naïveté about Islam in order to continue their theft of Islam for the political agenda of Islamism. The Islamists know that anti-Islamist Muslims rob them of their minority trump card of Islamophobia and force them to come to terms with the anti-freedom, and anti-liberty and anti-pluralistic ideology of Islamism. Anti-Islamist, pro-Islamic Muslims expose the real motives of Islamists--which is the exploitation of the spiritual path of Islam for political and governmental power and coercion.
The MSM would prefer to facilitate the current Islamist organizations and Islamist imams. Why? It could be a fear of litigation, minority victim politics, or simple ignorance regarding the goals of Islamism. As in the case with PBS, it could also be the internal influence and infiltration of Islamists within the media and government who will go to great lengths to suffocate the opinions of anti-Islamists, especially anti-Islamist Muslims.
The PBS/CPB censorship of Islam vs. Islamists exemplifies the dire need to begin to educate many in the MSM of the ideological realities of the Islamists. They may protect Islamists blindly out of ignorance, fear, infiltration, or minority politics. But, at the end of the day, if the MSM editors understood the type of society the protected Islamists would create if they became a majority, their support would vanish. Feminists, social liberals, and those that would separate religion from government would be entirely ignored under Islamist control. Just ask the feminists what type of equality they have in many Islamist controlled mosques around the country.
It is interesting that even in the recent April 18 New York Times, Virginia Heffernan appropriately critiques the vacuous nature of Robert McNeil's documentary, "The Muslim Americans". McNeil's documentary which did conveniently make the cut of the Crossroads series, turned out to be a puff-piece for political correctness with no insight into Islamist ideologies and its danger to America. The question remains whether epiphanies like Heffernan's in the Times about McNeil's piece will translate into systemic changes in the approach of the MSM toward Islamists.
When will there be a change from coddling and enabling Islamists toward critical engagement of their deep ideological inconsistencies with Americanism? Thus far, investigative journalism, hard-hitting analysis, and identification of the clear and present danger of the Islamist ideological threat remains at best, a large blind spot and at worst an intentional omission.
Islamists sneak in their political agenda free of criticism from the MSM because they do it in the name of a religion. When moderate Muslims call them on their false representation of all Muslims and the disservice they do to the spiritual faith of Islam, the MSM so far chooses to shelve and ignore our efforts to be heard.
So the next time anyone asks, "where are the moderate voices of Islam?", tell them that the main reason they are voices in the wilderness is that the mainstream media chooses to leave them in the wilderness and prevent them from seeing the light of day. In the PBS documentary it is only Muslims interviewed throughout the film--how could that be anti-Muslim? Simply put, PBS claims that the veteran filmmaker Martyn Burke was one-sided, but it appears that PBS and often the MSM is one-sided protecting Islamist leadership from their most effective detractors--anti-Islamist Muslim moderates.
Borrowing on the old cliché of a tree falling in a forest, if Muslims speak out against Islamists but remain unheard (in the PBS forest), did they speak out at all? Without regular opportunities in the media and government for anti-Islamist Muslims to speak out, America will never know that they ever did. Without being heard the moderate voices will be as if they never existed. Without hearing the moderate voice, it is so much the easier for Islamists to continue toward their goal of political domination and demagoguery of the Muslim community and, ultimately, of America itself.