June 30, 2005

30 Days Documentary Slant

I've been seeing a lot of commercials for 30 Days, a "documentary" where the main character lives as an American Muslim for a month. I figured it was supposed to be a learning experience for all involved and in the end the audience was supposed to come away with a greater understanding of how Muslims live and the differences between Muslims and non-Muslims. Apparently the show is actually tailored not only to that end, but to show that there's a great deal Islamophobia in the country and that Muslims are the real victims of 9/11. More than that, the director Morgan Spurlock is the same guy who did Super-Size Me.

Debbie Schlussel was going to be in the documentary. She had this to say in a piece about it:
    I asked the show's executive producers--all of whom worked on "The Awful Truth With Michael Moore," a cable TV show--how this could be a documentary when they had decided the outcome in advance. Wasn't it possible that Mr. Stacy would come out seeing that there isn't Islamophobia to the extent that the Muslim community claims? Might he see that there is disturbingly strong support in the Detroit-area Islamic community for terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah--a fact regularly documented even in the normally pliant Detroit media?

    No, the producers told me. "Morgan wants the show to demonstrate to America that we are Islamophobic and that 9/11's biggest victims are Muslims." With this in mind, I agreed to be filmed only with final approval of my appearance, which I never gave. Thus I will not appear in Wednesday's show.

    When I met David Stacy, about halfway through his 30-day experience, I was amazed at how uninformed he was. This new "expert" on Islam never heard of Wahhabism--the extremist Sunni strain of Islam that dominates Saudi Arabia and informs the terrorist-breeding madrassa schools throughout Arab and other Muslim lands. He was unfamiliar with groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. He did not believe me when I told him that Hezbollah had murdered hundreds of U.S. Marines and civilians in Beirut and elsewhere. He seemed mystified to learn that President Bush shut down American Islamic charities, like the Holy Land Foundation and Global Relief Foundation, for funding Hamas and al Qaeda.
Glad to see we're dealing with a thorough, rigorous analysis from an informed, educated investigator.

Now I don't mind the idea of a slant on principle, since people are free to give biased opinions all the time. I do mind that something portrays itself as objective and informative when in fact it's pre-decided to favor one position. I also mind that the slant in question involves an overly narrow view of the information at hand. The fact is that there are Muslims that love America, Muslims that hate America, and Muslims somewhere in between. It doesn't foster long-term understanding or tolerance if we proceed based on lies or misinformation. It serves the goal of anti-bigotry to give an honest assessment, because if in the future we found out something bad about some American Muslims that we were told does not happen, then it could cast doubt on the argument the lies were made to serve.

What the hell is with the left and fake documentaries?

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