Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.
Hollywood has spawned a series of propaganda films all packaged as entertaining adventure stories replete with big budgets, big stars, bright colors and amazing technical effects.
For example, George Clooney’s 2005 film “Syriana” features a CIA plot to blow up a soft-spoken, highly sympathetic Saudi Prince who, doggone it, was just about to free all the women in his country and usher in a modern era. Obviously, only dirty American oil politics is holding progress at bay in the otherwise peace-loving and tyrant-free Arab Middle East.
In 2006, Brad Pitt starred in “Babel,” a pretentious but “high concept” adventure story set in four geographical locations, including Morocco, where the Muslim terrorists are depicted as soulful and sympathetic.
Liberal, eternally guilty Hollywood has found its new Indians: Muslims, mainly Muslim terrorists, but also the great, silent majority of Muslims, who are very photogenic, and who merely hate infidels. If the Muslim terrorists are brutal – well, by God, we drove them to it. We exterminated our own native Indians of color and then put the survivors on reservations where, dishonored and demoralized, they beat their women and drank themselves to death.
That Muslims are not native American Indians does not change the boilerplate mindset: People of color are the victims, Caucasians are their victimizers. Hollywood rides to the rescue!
“A Mighty Heart,” starring Angelina Jolie, is yet another propaganda film masquerading as an action drama. The film is presumably about Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter kidnapped, tortured, and gruesomely beheaded by Islamists who made sure the grisly video of their handiwork was viewed by millions on the Internet.
I remember that heart-stopping video. Before his decapitation, Pearl admits that he is a Jew (as if that were a crime) and that his parents are Jews – in fact, he tells us, perhaps gratuitously, that the Israelis named a street in Israel after his grandfather. The video functioned as a form of psychological terror. Many Westerners got the message and have behaved in an appeasing, dhimmi-like manner ever since.
We only see a snippet of this video in “A Mighty Heart.” The video is essentially missing – as is Daniel Pearl himself. What we see, instead, are Hollywood’s “good Indians.” This time they are Pakistani Muslim policemen who only want to help find Pearl’s kidnappers.
In Cannes, the film was given a standing ovation. Variety’s reporter, Justin Chang, congratulated the British director, Michael Winterbottom, for finding a way to interest people in what is, after all, a rather “harrowing” story. Chang also praised the film’s “utmost restraint” – which, in my view, is itself the ultimate in dhimmi behavior. Indeed, the film does not condemn Islamic terrorism at all and only once whispers the name “Al Qaeda.”
Predictably, New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis praised the film precisely for its (politically correct) political vision. While she did note that “Mr. Pearl was a casualty of Islamist hatred of Western civilization” she also wrote: “What distinguishes ‘A Mighty Heart’ is its assertion that politics and ideology play a part in poverty and terrorism, in the way some men exploit human misery in the name of God and righteousness.”
Thus, terrorists are merely religious people who are trying to resist “poverty” the best way they can. Dargis was careful to protest the briefly shown scenes of torture – not Danny Pearl’s torture, but that of those Muslims who were part of the plot to kidnap and behead him: “Mr. Pearl would probably have been appalled that this outrage was committed on his behalf; the point is, we should be too.”
It is not surprising that the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) hosted the premiere of the film in Los Angeles. The political story line is quite to its liking.
The film also insinuates that Pearl himself was at least somewhat to blame for his own beheading. He was, after all, warned several times not to meet with Sheikh Giladi except in public, and yet, instead of deciding not to meet him at all, chose to pursue the story.
Pearl, the film suggests, was obviously naive or filled with hubris. He did not want to understand that Jewish-Americans in Pakistan were endangered prey. Heedlessly, he followed his story as if Al Qaeda had not declared jihad against infidels, as if he was immune to the consequences of such a declaration.
About the Author: Dr. Phyllis Chesler is a professor emerita of psychology, a Middle East Forum fellow, and the author of fifteen books including “Women and Madness” (1972), “The New Anti-Semitism” (2003), and her latest, “An American Bride in Kabul” (2013). Her articles are archived at www.phyllis-chesler.com.
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