I stumbled on this article today. I know it’s almost a year old, but it is still relevant, possibly moreso in view of recent events and our current administrations unwillingness to confront Islam. Or should I say our current administrations embrace and support of Islam.
The High Price of Telling the Truth About Islam
February 7, 2012 By Eric Allen Bell
[Editor’s note: The article below is written by Eric Allen Bell, a filmmaker who was recently banned from blogging at the “Daily Kos” because he wrote three articles that ran afoul of the mindset there, specifically naming “Loonwatch.com” as a “terrorist spin control network.” Frontpage invited him to tell his story, which he does below.]
A strange thing happened to me the other day when I was driving past the Federal Building in Los Angeles. There were a crowd of people assembled there with signs which said that Israel is an aggressive force in the Middle East and that Iran is being picked on. As I stopped at a red light I heard a man with a mega phone lead the protesters in a chant charging Obama with genocide. I saw many young people and several Muslim women with their heads covered. It was an anti-war demonstration that probably a year ago I would have supported. But although I am not in favor of military action, I know that Iran is not another Iraq, and that in fact there is more going on here than the overly-simplified picture that the protestors were painting, as cars drove by honking in support. As the light turned green another sign caught my eye – a picture of the Twin Towers burning which read “911 Was an Inside Job”. As I looked at a sea of Palestinian flags and college kids banging on drums I felt a certain frustration – frustration based on a series of events that have changed my world view.
In the Summer of 2010, having recently escaped Hollywood, CA to take a much needed break from my profession as a film maker, I was driving in my car listening to a story on NPR. It seems the people in my new home of Murfreesboro, TN were up in arms over the proposed construction of a 53,000 square foot mega mosque, to be built in their small town in the middle of the American Bible Belt.
I listened carefully, to the sound bytes, of those who had shown up to a town hall meeting to voice their opposition and, as someone who was rather new to the South, I was surprised by what I was hearing. “America is a Christian nation and there is only one God and his name is not Allah and his son is Jesus Christ” and “America is a Christian Nation” and “These Muslims do not share my values and I don’t want them in my backyard”. Growing up in Southern California, I had never heard anything like this before in my life. And I started to follow the story with great interest.
On the outer edge of town, off a small country road, there was a large parcel of land, right next door to a Baptist church, with a big sign that read, “Future Home of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro”. Over the past 6 months that sign had been defaced twice. Once it was broken in half and another time the words “Not Welcome” were spray painted over it.
Rutherford County, which includes Murfreesboro, only has a little over 100,000 residents and yet the area boasts nearly 200 Christian churches. Having not been much of a fan of Islam or Christianity or religion in general (and that’s putting it mildly) I saw this as something of a David vs. Goliath story – with fanatical Evangelicals bullying a peaceful Muslim population, which had been in the community for over 30 years without there ever being any trouble. And, after learning that in July there was to be a big parade down Main Street to the town square, protesting the construction of this new mosque, I decided someone really needed to make a documentary about this. And even though I had gone to Murfreesboro to escape the film world for a while, it seemed pretty clear that if I did not document this in a movie, no one else would. I wanted to show the world what I was seeing. So I put together a small film crew and began production on a documentary I would title, “Not Welcome”.
I had never seen more American flags assembled together in one place than I had on that hot July morning as the anti-mosque crowd gathered at the base camp to prepare for the parade. Many of the marchers showed up wearing red, white and blue. I had 4 cameras covering the event with one crew embedded with the Liberal activists who were going to counter-demonstrate and the rest of the cameras with me, embedded with those who were to march against the mosque. I conducted several interviews in the school parking lot where locals and those who had driven for hours gathered, prepared to march against what they perceived to be not only a threat to their way of life, but also something of an insult given the events of September 11, 2001. Two Congressional candidates, both promising to “stop the Islamic training camp” showed up and used this opportunity to campaign, one of whom even gave a speech through a mega phone reminding folks to vote for him if they wanted to stop Sharia Law from coming to Murfreesboro. The pastor of Baptist church gathered everyone together in prayer, and the parade took off down Main Street with signs that read “Google the Koran” and “Stop Homegrown Terrorism” and someone in the crowd handed out hundreds of small Israeli flags as several hundred Southerners marched against the mosque.
About six months later I had accumulated over 300 hours of footage, interviewing the parade organizer, both Congressional candidates, the Mayor, the Imam at the mosque and several of its board members, numerous concerned residents on both sides of the issue, Muslim residents, city council members, a Christian Zionist lobbyist who was organizing the opposition to the mosque – and I had even filmed weeks of court proceedings, as a local group had filed suit against the County to stop them from issuing any construction permits to the Islamic Center. The court proceedings were truly a circus with a country lawyer in loud suit with a bow tie argued that Islam is not a religion and that he was prepared to take this matter to the Supreme Court if necessary. That legal action had failed and failed miserably. And although many of the townspeople did in fact have a number of very valid concerns, I felt that those whom they had chosen to represent them were not their best foot forward. In many ways, for the people of Murfreesboro, TN this turned out to be an international embarrassment – given the level of interest from the press.
Also, someone tried to set fire to some construction equipment at the site of the new mosque and the student activist group, calling themselves “Middle Tennesseans for Religious Freedom” put together a candle light vigil where hundreds of townspeople showed up in support of tolerance. A few young men showed up in a pickup truck and honked their horn repeatedly throughout the vigil. Their clothes seemed to indicate they had spent the work day hanging drywall. And when they put up a huge sign in the back of their truck which read “No Mosque” while misspelling the word mosque, I did not hesitate to film them but to also sort of taunt them, in order to provoke a good response on camera. And I got it. One of them said we should suspend the Constitution and went on to say that “All them Mooslums should be shipped home” even the ones who were born here.
Read the rest here:
Here we have a man, a good liberal who believed that liberalism had the right idea about everything. He went out to make a documentary blasting the “Apocalyptic Christianity” of those who opposed the building of a mosque in Tennessee. What he eventually discovered was far more interesting.
Before I go any further, I should mention that, while all of this was happening, I had become involved in the story itself. I took sides. I sided with the Islamic community in their legal right to build a house of worship and when I was interviewed by the local papers (it’s not every day that a small town like this has someone shooting a documentary there) when I was asked where I stood on the issue I never hesitated to give my point of view. And after a time my point of view was sought out by larger newspapers and several local and syndicated radio programs – mostly Conservative and mostly taking issue with my stance. And I was also invited to write several pieces for Michael Moore’s blog as well.
Although I had left town to edit, there continued to be letters to the editor on a few of the local papers saying that I should leave TN and go back to where I came from. I could not believe the cartoonish way in which those who opposed the mosque were making their case. I felt like I was on the right side of this thing – absolutely certain. But in fact, I was wrong.
Soon he began hearing things that began to challenge his simplistic worldview.
But something kept nagging at me on a gut level. Something about all of this didn’t quite feel right. The Arab Spring, which I supported, started to degenerate into the Islamist Winter, and I grew more and more concerned. I flew back to Nashville to shoot a conference on whether or not Islam was conducive with Democratic Values and on the way to my hotel room I learned that my cab driver was from Egypt. I asked him how he felt about the fall of Mubarak, a dictator worth over $70 billion dollars while so much of his country was living in poverty and he told me he was concerned. Concerned? Wasn’t this good news? The cab driver was a Coptic Christian and he told me that he feared for his family back home. “If the Muslims take control, and they will, it will be very dangerous for my parents and my sisters. I’m scared for them right now”. After that conversation, I started to pay more attention to the news coming from the Islamic world in the Middle East.
Over the coming months I watched as the Muslim Brotherhood gained political power in Egypt. I saw that cab driver’s worst fears come true as Coptic Christians were attacked by Islamic mobs. I saw Tunisia institute Sharia, the brutal Islamic Law. After Libya fell, the Transitional Council also instituted Islamic Law. The nuclear armed Islamic government of Pakistan arrested and punished those who cooperated with the United States in killing Osama Bin Laden. A woman under the Islamic government of Afghanistan faced execution for the crime of being raped. Similar news stories emerged from Iran. A man who typed “there is no god” as his Facebook status in Indonesia, the largest Islamic country in the world, was arrested for blasphemy.
He wrote for Michael Moore and was a frequent contributor to Daily Kos and Loonwatch. Neither of these credentials protected him from what happened.
It was at this time that I went to my backers and told them that we were not making an honest documentary. I felt that everything I had put into the 25 minute short version (the one I used to raise the completion funds) was true, but only half true. It was critical that we also show the very real threats that exist within Islam. We needed to show that what is happening to these small communities of peaceful Muslims in America are the exception to the rule. I wanted to show what happens to countries when they gain a Muslim majority, how women are treated, that homosexuals were executed, that free speech did not exist, that the forced Islamic Law was not consistent with Democratic Values – anything and everything I could think of that ought to strike a chord with the Liberal mindset. And the response I received was, “Eric you are starting to sound like an Islamophobe. We don’t want to make a movie that promotes fear. Let’s just stick with the existing plan, okay?”
I fought and I fought. I showed them a book called “The Truth About Mohammed” but was struck down since the author was a man named Robert Spencer and my backers pointed out that the Southern Poverty Law Center named his “Jihad Watch” site as part of a hate group. I asked them to watch a documentary called “Islam: What the West Needs to Know” and pointed out that I had researched independently and verified the truth of what was being presented there, but they would not even watch this documentary as they were sure in advance that it was “hate speech” and “propaganda designed to spread fear”. It probably goes without saying that by now I was very frustrated. I showed my new backers several verses from the Koran that call for the killing of infidels and was told that these verses were probably being taken out of context. I showed them a video clip from MEMRI TV of a young Egyptian child reciting a Hadith that calls for the killing of Jews and was told that “you can’t trust MEMRI because they have an agenda”.
I mentioned the popular Islamophobia watchdog site “Loonwatch” and how I had noticed a pattern of deflection all criticisms of radical and violent Islam by calling anyone who publicly raises these concerns a “Loon” and how I felt this was an intentional effort to provide a smoke screen for the terrorists. I also noted that everything Loonwatch said was in lockstep with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and now CAIR was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation – the largest Islamic charity at one time, which was found to be funneling monies to Islamic terrorist organizations. I also noted that CAIR had ties to both Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and that Al Qeada had come out of the Muslim Brotherhood. I expressed my concerns that the Egyptian Imam of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro might have ties to the MB, something I had failed to properly investigate. But since CAIR had the support of Glenn Greenwald and Amy Goodman’s show, Democracy Now, I was told that I had my facts all wrong. It was also pointed out to me that if CAIR was allegedly some kind of terrorist front then why do they still have a special tax status and why are they still around? When I said I do not know but it was possible that the government might prefer to watch them out in the open rather than risk them going underground I was told that my judgment was sounding less and less clear and that maybe I needed to take a step back from the project for a while.
And it didn’t stop there.
In January of 2012 I wrote 3 consecutive articles for the Daily Kos. The first was entitled “Loowatch.com and Radical Islam”. Here I pointed out the how Loonwatch only deflects criticism of radical Islam. I was also critical of Islamic theology while noting over and over that most Muslims were peaceful. The comments section of Daily Kos made me feel like I was attending my own funeral. It was like a public stoning. There wasn’t much in the way of responding to any of the points laid out in my article but hundreds of comments accusing me of being “right wing” a “bigot” and an “lslamophobe”. This was disappointing.
The next day I received an email from Loonwatch.com with an article showing my name and a photograph of my face, going out to much of the Islamic world, calling me the “Loon at Large”. This article was picked up by IslamophobiaToday.com and TheAmericanMuslim.org – later being repurposed by numerous Islamic blogs around the world, including in places where we all know what happens to anyone who is perceived to be the enemy of Allah or who dares to “insult” Islam.
My next article sought to further substantiate my point with regard to these wolves in sheep’s clothing calling themselves “Islamophobia Watchdog sites” and their first line of defense, that being a blogosphere of liberal lemming infidels who are pre-programmed to blurt out the word “Islamophobe” on cue. That article was called “How and Why Loonwatch is a Terrorist Spin Control Network”. And as you might have guessed, this piece was met with the same mob mentality of those who, rather than read the article and criticize it on its merits, instead shot the messenger with charges of “Islamophobia”. There were also 2 Daily Kos articles written in response attacking me personally, another Loonwatch article where someone suggested I must be from TN and have no education, etc. And once again, my name was put out on the street through a network of Islamic Blogs, including the landing page for CAIR, using a form of Islamic double speak which translated to any serious Jihadist means “enemy of Allah” and “insulting Islam”.
Given the incredible density of the popular Liberal mind, how the readers of my articles were unable to see how the beliefs of Islam were in direct conflict with human rights, gay rights, women’s rights and basic Democratic Values, I wrote a final piece called, “Are You In Favor of Human Rights?” and that one of course got me banned from Daily Kos. It should be noted that in one of the Loonwatch.com articles the author, a person simply calling himself “Danios” demanded that DKOS silence me and provided a link for its readers to email the editors of the Daily Kos, demanding that this “Islamophobe” be censored. And it worked – once again proving the oil and water relationship between Islam and tolerance for free speech.
He found out the hard way. Liberals promote diversity, unless it’s diversity of opinion. Then they will go to any length to censor you and ensure no one hears what you have to say.
The evil alliance of liberalism and Islam is an atrocity and should not be allowed to continue. It is completely in opposition to everything our country stands for. It is an affront to our constitutional principles and everything the country was founded on.
This man is a liberal, probably unrepentant, but he learned a lesson the hard way. Now on at least this issue, he is on the right side.