Saturday, June 25, 2005

FX Network To Run Puff-Piece On Islam
In The Guise of a Documentary


From Debbie Schlussel in the Wall Street Journal:


Morgan Spurlock got famous from his Oscar-nominated documentary "Super Size Me." He ingested big McDonald's meals three times a day for 30 days, then blamed McDonald's for his bloated body and dodgy health. Now he's using his 30-day premise to get Americans to ingest his version of radical Islam on cable's FX Network.

Last year, I received a request to appear on Mr. Spurlock's new reality show, "30 Days." The episode for which I was being recruited, "Inside an American Muslim Family," airs next Wednesday. It features Mr. Spurlock's childhood friend from West Virginia, David Stacy, spending 30 days "living as a Muslim" in the Detroit area.

While Mr. Spurlock is often referred to as a journalist, and touts "30 Days" as a "documentary," the outcome of the show was decided before production began. A show summary sent to me before taping said: "This process aims to deconstruct common misconceptions and stereotypes. . . . Our character will learn firsthand about Islam and the daily issues that . . . Muslims in America face today. The viewers will witness our character emerge from the immersion situation with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the Muslim-American experience. . . . The potential is great for this program to enlighten a national television audience about the Muslim American experience and increase their compassion, understanding and support."

And indeed, The Wall Street Journal's own Dorothy Rabinowitz, writing about the show last week from a preview tape, noted that Mr. Stacy, by the end of his 30 days, "has become so enlightened that he is pronouncing, if incomprehensibly, on the meaning of Islam, his knowledge of the Quran, the real definition of jihad."

I asked the show's executive producers--all of whom worked on "The Awful Truth With Michael Moore," a cable TV show--how this could be a documentary when they had decided the outcome in advance. Wasn't it possible that Mr. Stacy would come out seeing that there isn't Islamophobia to the extent that the Muslim community claims? Might he see that there is disturbingly strong support in the Detroit-area Islamic community for terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah--a fact regularly documented even in the normally pliant Detroit media?


No, the producers told me. "Morgan wants the show to demonstrate to America that we are Islamophobic and that 9/11's biggest victims are Muslims." With this in mind, I agreed to be filmed only with final approval of my appearance, which I never gave. Thus I will not appear in Wednesday's show.

When I met David Stacy, about halfway through his 30-day experience, I was amazed at how uninformed he was. This new "expert" on Islam never heard of Wahhabism--the extremist Sunni strain of Islam that dominates Saudi Arabia and informs the terrorist-breeding madrassa schools throughout Arab and other Muslim lands. He was unfamiliar with groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. He did not believe me when I told him that Hezbollah had murdered hundreds of U.S. Marines and civilians in Beirut and elsewhere. He seemed mystified to learn that President Bush shut down American Islamic charities, like the Holy Land Foundation and Global Relief Foundation, for funding Hamas and al Qaeda.