News Release

“Open Bigotry: Islamophobia in the 2008 Presidential Campaign”


The media watch group FAIR has just launched the web page “Smearcasters: How Islamophobes spread fear, bigotry and misinformation.”

MacDonald is communications director with FAIR. She recently wrote the piece “The Anti-Muslim Smear Machine Strikes Again?” The piece states: “In the midst of remarkably cynical election-time mud-slinging, the ‘Obsession’ campaign is truly in a class of its own.

“Over the past weeks, 28 million copies of the anti-Muslim propaganda film ‘Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West’ have been delivered to the doors of newspaper subscribers in swing states. The 2006 documentary, which has been a mainstay of David Horowitz’s ‘Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week,’ describes ‘radical Islam’ as a menace comparable to Adolf Hitler that, according to the film’s website, ‘is threatening, with all the means at its disposal, to bow Western civilization under the yoke of its values.’

“For the groups behind the film’s distribution, the goal seems pretty clear: Scare the holy hell out of millions of voters in swing states about a possible Muslim takeover of the U.S. It’s hard to see the targeting of electoral battlegrounds as anything other than an attempt to help John McCain get elected — perhaps by capitalizing on the widespread whispering campaign that Obama is a ‘secret Muslim.’

“And one has to admit that the ‘Obsession’ campaign’s marketing plan has been quite slick. After all, what better way to disseminate hate propaganda than under the unassuming guise of a documentary film delivered in Americans’ daily newspapers? A plan that, sadly, many newspapers were all too happy to go along with for the sake of corporate profits. While a handful of newspapers — the Greensboro, N.C., News & Record, the Detroit Free Press, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch — have taken the ethical stance of refusing to carry the DVD (the News & Record called it ‘fear-mongering and divisive’), some 70 papers, including the New York Times, have delivered it to their subscribers as a paid advertising supplement.”

MacDonald noted that the “accusation” of being a Muslim or Arab is frequently accepted as a “smear” while in other cases, the attempt to falsely depict someone as being of a certain background to damage them politically is correctly perceived as evidence of deep-seated bigotry. The Smearcasters web page features a number of case studies including “‘Secret Muslims,’ Open Bigotry: Islamophobia in the 2008 presidential campaign,” which notes: “In the 1990 Polish elections a whispering campaign suggesting Polish Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki, a Roman Catholic, was a ‘secret Jew’ attracted widespread attention in the U.S. press, as did a nearly identical rumor about the leading challenger in Poland’s 1995 election. In no uncertain terms, U.S. news reports called the rumors ‘ugly examples’ (Washington Post, 12/31/90) of the ‘increasingly visible expressions of anti-Semitism’ (New York Times, 1/21/91), the most notable such ‘anti-Semitic acts’ in Poland (Washington Post, 7/8/95).”
More Information

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167