It presents itself as being a balanced documentary. In reality, it’s a shamelessly slanted piece of work that pretends to be seeking out the truth about Dearborn, Michigan, which once had the world’s largest auto plant and now has the world’s largest mosque. Only sixteen minutes long, it was commissioned by the Guardian, made by noted documentary filmmakers Katharine Round and Ben Steele, and was just posted on that newspaper’s website.
In the beginning we meet Sarah, an affluent, pretty, U.S.-born young woman of Lebanese descent. She recently graduated from law school – and wears a hijab. We’re patently meant to see her as charming, well-spoken, reasonable – a person who not only represents no danger to American society but who is, in fact, an asset. We meet her friends, too – all in hijab.
Sarah complains about a store greeter who ignored her. “In this country I feel our minds are almost being oppressed,” she says, “because we can’t be ourselves, in a way.” (This from somebody who’s wearing a head covering that symbolizes oppression.)
The documentary then shifts to the other side. Christian talk-radio host Bob Dutko is on the air, talking about Muhammed, who, he says, had more in common with ISIS than with peaceful Muslims today. True, but we’re obviously supposed to view him as an ignorant bigot. We meet Rob, who has attached to his car a parade float-type trailer decorated with U.S. flags, signs reading “Safeguard Our Borders,” and the word TRUMP in giant letters. The filmmakers play “You’re a Grand Old Flag.” We’re plainly supposed to see him as a buffoon. The film’s heavy-handed style brings to mind Michael Moore’s debut opus, Roger & Me.
Next we meet Nick. He’s in his living room, sitting under a huge U.S. flag and playing a video game involving guns – so we can see where this is going. Then he’s bowling (that favorite activity of “the deplorables”). He says he worries about “our culture disappearing”: Americans are barely reproducing at the replacement rate of 2.1, while Muslim couples are bringing in eight kids apiece. He’s got a point – but he, too, is manifestly an Islamophobe.
Nick, we’re told, belongs to an armed civilian group, the Michigan Militia. We see them at firearms practice. “Who knows what’s going on in those mosques?” Nick says. “They’ve got sleeper cells around just waiting to strike.” True – but again, he’s obviously supposed to come off as a hysterical gun nut.
Enough of these gun nuts! Now it’s back to the nice, civilized Muslims. We see hijab-clad Suehaila (born in Dearborn) and her husband, Bilal. But – oh heavens, they’re at a gun range, too, engaging in target practice. But don’t mistake them for gun nuts: as Suehaila explains, they’re scared and need to protect themselves.
“With all the Islamophobia and the anti-Muslim rhetoric, this has been the first time in my life, even though I travel all around the world, that I’ve actually been worried about my safety when I walk out of the house.” We meet Suehaila’s hijab-clad mother, Lila, who laments: “Why do I have to look over my shoulder all the time? Why has it come to that?”
Summary: unfounded Islamophobia reigns in Dearborn! Intelligent, gentle Muslims now spend their lives quaking in fear because of a paranoid pack of flag-waving, Trump-loving, rifle-toting mouth-breathers!
In fact what Round and Steele have produced here is a brief but potent dose of disinformation that even Michael Moore might have been embarrassed to put his name on. They’ve introduced us to Sarah and Suehaila, but omitted to tell us about Dearborn Imam Ahmad Musa Jibril, whose “fanatically anti-American” and pro-jihad sermons, available on videotape, radicalized at least one of the July 2017 London Bridge terrorists.
They left out the story of Dearborn’s own Khalil Abu-Rayyan, an ISIS fan who was arrested last year for planning to shoot up a church with a 6,000-member congregation. (“It is my dream,” he said, “to behead someone.”)
They ignored a 2012 incident in which Dearborn Muslims pelted Christians with stones and bottles (and it was the Christians whom the police reprimanded); a 2009 report about Dearborn police silencing Arab Christians to placate local Muslims; a 2013 story about a Lebanese Christian couple in Dearborn who were targeted with paintball attacks, Nazi signs on their lawn, and phoned-in death threats for putting up a U.S. flag and Christmas tree.
They visited the shooting range, but they didn’t take us to the Bint Jebail Cultural Center, where “thousands of Hezbollah supporters” regularly meet to enjoy violently anti-Semitic sermons, or to any of Dearborn’s public schools, where, under pressure from CAIR, Muslim students are now able to come and go from class in order to pray and can also leave early on Fridays to attend mosque. Nor did the progressive-minded filmmakers speak to the gay Arabs who told a reporter in 2013 that “it can be less difficult for an Arab to be openly gay” in Beirut than in Dearborn.
And all this, folks, is just a sampling. But why let the facts ruin a perfectly good piece of leftist propaganda?
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