What's the deal with: Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West?
October 8, 2008 6:20 PM   Subscribe

What should I do with the DVD "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West"?

I got this DVD in the mail. From what I understand it borders on hate speech and xenophobia (which is why I am not linking to their site). So what do I do?

1. Watch it and decide for myself?
2. Throw it away?
3. Mark it "Return to sender," and hope this cost the racists a bit of cash?
4. Invite all my friends over for a viewing?

I like to imagine myself as an open minded type of guy, and I am not afraid of having my world view challenged, but I also would rather not waste my time sitting in front of a propaganda piece (for or against anything).

I'm less worried about what this will do to my world view, and more concerned with: if it really is the vitriolic piece of crap I am expecting it to be, what's the best way to cost them extra cash? Even a buck for return postage would be fine with me (that's one less DVD they can send out).

If I am wrong on my perception, then I would like to know that as well.

Thanks.
posted by cjorgensen to Society & Culture (36 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Donate it to the library, if they'll take it. The best disinfectant is sunlight, and the best remedy for bad speech is more speech.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:25 PM on October 8, 2008


Keep it as a collector's item...in 2025, it will be as quaint as this 1984 book I have called "When The Russians Come," on what to do after Soviets conquer the U.S.A.
posted by johngoren at 6:26 PM on October 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


We just threw it away, but if you're sold on letting them know you disagree with them go ahead and send it back.
posted by lilac girl at 6:27 PM on October 8, 2008


I would choose option 3: "Return to Sender"
posted by amyms at 6:27 PM on October 8, 2008


It's not like they care if you return to sender. They're probably only expecting a single-digit watch rate anyways.
posted by smackfu at 6:29 PM on October 8, 2008


This guy filed an IRS complaint against the Clarion Fund which has been distributing the movies.

I don't know if you want to go that far, but it is an idea.
posted by clearly at 6:39 PM on October 8, 2008


If this came with a subscription to something else, I suggest you cancel that subscription and tell the company why.
posted by Citizen Premier at 7:11 PM on October 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Citizen Premier: If this came with a subscription to something else, I suggest you cancel that subscription and tell the company why.

Nope, direct mailing.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:23 PM on October 8, 2008


A thought upon further reflection: wouldn't sending the CD back to them just enable them to reuse it and send it out to someone else? The dollar it costs for them to get it back might save them money because they can reuse it rather than pay to create a bunch of new ones.
posted by lilac girl at 7:42 PM on October 8, 2008


I think you should watch it, and then read about the video, and the clarion fund. I did, and it's a fascinating bit of propaganda, in the way that right wing books and Web sites are.

Then you should use it as a coaster, or throw it away.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 7:50 PM on October 8, 2008


4. Invite all my friends over for a viewing?

I vote for four. But invite a lot of friends, and also call a few of your local papers - especially any that included the DVD in their Sunday editions - and ask if they'd like to cover the viewing. Then follow up with a letter to that paper about how you gathered friends and watched it together, what you saw, what you thought of it, and where people can get better information.
posted by Miko at 8:38 PM on October 8, 2008


I threw mine away.
posted by pinky at 8:45 PM on October 8, 2008


I actually find that sort of thing hilarious. I say get the friends and make sure they know to bring alcohol.
posted by theichibun at 8:54 PM on October 8, 2008


I feel so stupid. I received "Obsession" with my newspaper and, one evening when my fiance and I couldn't find anything on any channel in the known universe, we watched it.

I was incredibly frightened and actually considered voting for McCain. *shudder* Don't worry; it was for a millisecond.

My fiance is quite conservative (yeah, hold your comments) and he claimed that he already knew all of these stats, which were news to me...including that the jihadist movement was far larger than the entire population of the U.S., which, because of my job, I know to be approximately 301 MM. Its size, and dispersal, worried me, and I wondered why we (and Obama) weren't more focused on this threat.

I couldn't discern anything from their website, which is radical islam dot com, for those of you who are expert sleuths (and I'm sorry if that was like the most horrible thing I can do to post that...I was also trying to find their funding).

I will be watching this post with interest, and please delete my post if identifying the website is a terrible thing to do. It shook me up, but I'm not sure what the counter-argument is or where to find it. Thanks for asking this question.
posted by Punctual at 8:58 PM on October 8, 2008


the jihadist movement was far larger than the entire population of the U.S.

There are 1.4 billion Muslims, give or take 400 million
, so if that's true, at least 1 Muslim in 5 is a jihadist. Looks like I made a good decision throwing away the two copies of Obsession that my wife and I got in the mail. Just say no to 'Islamofascist' hysteria.
posted by lukemeister at 9:04 PM on October 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am not trying to argue, Mr. lukemeister, but that was certainly the claim made, repeatedly, on the DVD. NOT that it is accurate, but that was certainly the number used - half a billion, which is a small fraction of Muslims, according to their sources.

I do not endorse them, but am merely explaining what was claimed by the DVD. I would love evidence to counter this claim, seriously.
posted by Punctual at 9:09 PM on October 8, 2008


Punctual,

I didn't mean to attack you, but statistics like the one apparently quoted in Obsession are derived as follows:

(1) Ask some Muslims in a few countries whether suicide bombing is ever justified.
(2) 10% or 20% say yes.
(3) Multiply percentage in (2) by some factor because it is assumed that many people believe in suicide bombing than will admit it.
(4) Multiply by the number of Muslims in the world.

One thus gets a number of hundreds of millions, but it's grossly misleading, in the sense that the number is used to imply that there are hundreds of millions of people who want to kill Americans or America's allies in the "War on Terror". The actual number of people who are active jihadists in the whole world is smaller by many orders of magnitude. If there were hundreds of millions of active jihadists - far greater than the combined militaries of all nations - it would be blindingly obvious.
posted by lukemeister at 9:26 PM on October 8, 2008


Hey, lukemeister, same here.

I just have no citations for either argument - yours or theirs. Trust, I want yours to be correct! I indeed hope that it would be apparent were there so many fundamentalists/jihadists. Have you seen (not according to to your post) the video? The film of the children, who are toddlers, being taught to say "Death to America!" is chilling.

HOWEVER. If this is limited to a few, ineffectual people, then, whatever. As I had told friends, before viewing this DVD I considered the jihadist movement to be sorta kinda like the abortion clinic bombing people here - very few, very extreme. I'd be okay with that.

I just don't see that anyone has a handle on how many are active and passionately committed in the ME, EU, Asia, Africa, and the EU. I want you to tell me "Obsession" is wrong; believe me. Thanks for your follow up.
posted by Punctual at 9:35 PM on October 8, 2008


OOPS, crap. NOT that I'm okay with people bombing abortion clinics; I meant I would feel LESS SCARED if the movement were that small - a few crazies.
posted by Punctual at 9:37 PM on October 8, 2008


Punctual,

Don't worry, I didn't take it that you were OK with bombing abortion clinics.

I didn't watch the video.
posted by lukemeister at 9:44 PM on October 8, 2008


5) Coaster
6) Single Use Frisbee
posted by MikeMc at 10:40 PM on October 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Back when AOL used to send me a CD every week, I liked to stick them in the microwave and then use them for coasters (not that the microwave part was necessary for coaster function, but it's fun - the microwave will smell bad for about an hour, though, and it only takes five seconds to nuke a CD.) Perhaps watching the little blue electric storm that erupts as the idiotic material contained within is destroyed would be satisfying.
posted by queseyo at 11:14 PM on October 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Since it seems these DVD producers want to "inform" everyone with their brand of "information", be sure to inform yourself with something a little more substantial.

• As a response to the video's distribution, hold a panel discussion or town-hall type event with people from all faiths and backgrounds on the subject of interfaith dialogue. You don't need to necessarily be on the panel yourself, but you can definitely organize things in concert with the participants and the venue. Get some local press coverage - TV would be amazing, newspapers probably more possible. Hold the event in a public space, for free, with food - perhaps a local library has a film/lecture/community room. Get people to film the event and post it on YouTube if you can't get local media involved. Invite university students if there's a university near you - and be sure to post a flier with your event in the philosophy, political science and religious studies departments!

• Visit a mosque or Islamic center and ask questions yourself! Why trust something produced as an "investigation" with the conclusion already written in stone before the first frame? Many Islamic centers even offer open sessions and meetings for community members to find out more about Islam and what it means to be a Muslim.

• Take a college class on Islam, the politics of the Middle East, terrorism, security...anything that seems to connect to this DVD. In California, where I'm from, community colleges offer extraordinarily cheap, great-value classes on everything under the sun, in evenings and through the summer as well. No better shield to ignorance than education!

• As a starting point to finding out more about Islam right here at home, check out Wikipedia's Islam in the United States. Did you know that the Sultan of Morocco was the first foreign head of state to recognize the newly-independent United States? Or that Muslims have been in America since the Spanish were exploring parts of the Southwest and the slave trade began? Or that the first purpose-built mosque in America wasn't in New York, but in Cedar Rapids, Iowa? And here's a photo of a snow-bound mosque in Altoona, Wisconsin, of all places.

After all this - it will take a while, of course - you'd probably be a lot more able to refute ridiculous extremist claims, be seen as a point person on the subject for friends and colleagues, and be respected by those around you as someone who didn't just check out a few websites to "verify" what you already knew. Someone who tries to "do research"...and then actually does it gets major, and in my opinion well-deserved, kudos, because they inspire others to do the same thing and help clear up a lot of misgivings and misconceptions people have about any topic. Among your circle of friends and contacts, you're 1000 times more powerful than a DVD.

Good luck!
posted by mdonley at 2:53 AM on October 9, 2008


I've seen the film and it is boring propaganda crap. Looks like it was put together by Fox News. You've probably already heard or seen shit like this before. Don't waste your time.
posted by hojoki at 2:55 AM on October 9, 2008


One came in the mail addressed to a previous occupant. I bent it a few times to make sure it was unreadable and then marked Return to Sender.
posted by JJ86 at 5:53 AM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


We got it in the mail recently, will probably watch it. My question is...has anyone seen a website that does a factcheck.org-style breakdown of the content? I'd like to have some reference material handy as I sit through it, if possible.
posted by brandman at 6:04 AM on October 9, 2008


I think you should watch it, and then read about the video, and the clarion fund. I did, and it's a fascinating bit of propaganda, in the way that right wing books and Web sites are.

Step Two: write some solid and original copy explaining what a propagandist POS it is, debunking it point by point, post it somewhere on the Internet, encourage like-minded sites to link to it.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:21 AM on October 9, 2008


Oh man, why haven't I gotten a copy?

5. Rip the video to your computer and make a spoof.

I vote for "Aversion: Radical Judaism's War Against Ham"

Yeah, I'm working on Yom Kippur, and even cracking Jewish jokes. My mother is so proud.
posted by JaredSeth at 6:34 AM on October 9, 2008


Or, and I realize this is out there, you could watch it with an open mind and maybe learn a thing or two. You know, eat the meat and throw out the bones. Is it too much to ask to watch something without having made your mind up already? Please, don't be guilty of what you're so quick to accuse the other side of. No, I haven't seen it. I'm just going on principle here.
posted by jluce50 at 7:34 AM on October 9, 2008


jluce50: "No, I haven't seen it. I'm just going on principle here."

So am I. I believe in free speech, so support their right to say anything, even if it's lying propaganda, even to send it out, but at the same time, if White Supremacist material landed in my mailbox I think I'd be more than a bit offended.

It's really not a matter of educating myself on the issues here. I was a religion minor in college, have been to at least one service from over a dozen different faiths, and my father is a Lutheran pastor. Religion is still a hobby of mine (I know, one man's faith is another's hobby, might sound dismissive, but I do respect people's rights to have a faith).

I have also had Muslim friends over the years that have been all too happy to answer questions and give perspective. I don't currently have anyone in my life that fits this category.

I think at this point I probably will watch it. I really doubt it's going to change my perspective. It'll probably just solidify my belief (like it needs it) that idiots are idiots.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:52 AM on October 9, 2008


Or, and I realize this is out there, you could watch it with an open mind and maybe learn a thing or two. You know, eat the meat and throw out the bones. Is it too much to ask to watch something without having made your mind up already? Please, don't be guilty of what you're so quick to accuse the other side of. No, I haven't seen it. I'm just going on principle here.

Seriously. There were some pretty excellent points in the one book that came out a while ago, "My Struggle" I think it was called. Granted, the author went a bit overboard when allocating root causes of various national problems to different social groups and their actions, but on the whole there were some very salient facts that he made known.

Wait, what?
posted by FatherDagon at 10:44 AM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


cjorgensen,

You have a stronger stomach than I do. If you watch it, please report back.
posted by lukemeister at 2:12 PM on October 9, 2008


Just pulled mine out of the trash, and may watch it. Any time so many people are so afraid of an idea, there may just be something to it.
posted by dinger at 3:00 PM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I received a copy, since I'm in a Swing State.
I searched the 'net before viewing, and was disgusted about what I discovered. So, I threw the disk in the trash, and put the cardboard container in the recycle bin.
posted by Choppy at 4:38 PM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


3. Mark it "Return to sender," and hope this cost the racists a bit of cash?

This one, also available in the "put the DVD in a sturdy cardboard box with 4 or 5 heavy bricks, and stick the mailing label, marked return to sender to the top of the box" version.
posted by _dario at 7:16 PM on October 9, 2008


Watch it, gather the research you get from this AskMe thread and then get the money together (donations, paypal, aligning with some kind of progressive philanthropist, whatever) to create a counter-DVD which can be sent out to people and news outlets to debunk the crap this DVD has tried to spread.

Fight fire with fire.
posted by Effigy2000 at 12:32 AM on October 21, 2008


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