Local peace activists got word this week that the Oregonian was planning to distribute a DVD in the Sunday paper--a paid insert from a group called "The Clarion Fund," according to emails zooming around among activists.
The DVD, characterized as "incredibly biased," and "highly inaccurate, biased and hateful" in an email from local peace activist Maxine Fookson--it's unclear if she authored the email or forwarded it--is called "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against The West."
A still from the intro:
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has complained about to the FEC about the controversial DVD, alleging that it's being distributed to "28 million homes in presidential election swing states" in a bid to help McCain. (Today, the St. Petersburg Times tied the Clarion Fund to a "well known Jewish education group," Aish HaTorah, "that vehemently denies any involvement with the film.") CAIR writes:
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is urging the FEC to investigate whether the Clarion Fund, a shadowy non-profit organization that distributed DVDs containing "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West," is really a front for an Israel-based group seeking to help Sen. John McCain win the U.S. presidential election. (No information about a board of directors, staff or even a physical address is offered on the fund's website.)
There's a YouTube video of the DVD, but embedding has been disabled. Click here to check it out. The World Trade Center crumbles just after the two minute mark!
When I called CAIR this morning to ask if they were aware whether or not the Oregonian would be distributing the DVD, spokesperson Amina Rubin pointed me toward a watchdog website listing papers that have been paid to distribute the DVD. Other papers have turned the Clarion Fund away. The Oregonian isn't on the list of those that have distributed the DVD--nor is Oregon on the list of swing states apparently being targeted--but Rubin was doing further research.
Meanwhile, local activists aren't taking any chances, and have been sending letters to the Oregonian's publisher, Fred Stickel. "I am writing to express my utter outrage. In a world divided by arbitrary lines, drawn most often by people who do not have our best interests in mind, we do NOT need to spread any more hatred and distrust," writes Katherine Knowles.
And Mayor Tom Potter's office did their own digging--after getting the alerts from local activists--and were told that the paper did plan to insert the DVD in the Sunday paper. After learning that, and watching the YouTube clip, Mayor Tom Potter called Oregonian publisher Fred Stickel, according to the mayor's public advocate, Jeremy Van Keuren.
The mayor reportedly told Stickel: "If you're planning on distributing this, please don't. It contributes to a climate of distrust towards Muslims, and holds the entire Muslim community accountable for the actions of a dangerously misguided few."
Delivering the DVD with the Oregonian, Van Keuren explains, also "lends it objectively and legitimacy it doesn't deserve."
I've got a call in to the Oregonian to see what they plan to do.
Matt Davis contributed to this report.
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