Letters to the Editor

More letters on the 'Obsession' DVD

On Saturday, Sept. 13, I was surprised to receive a DVD in our complementary News & Observer. (We do not subscribe to the paper). The title "Obsession" was telling. And upon viewing (after all, never judge a DVD by its cover) I cannot describe my disdain. This kind of scare tactic works. Do you remember the "60 Minutes" segment on Saddam Hussein's attack on the Kurds before Bush and company attacked Iraq? Do you remember how Fox News and CNN played over, and over, the fall of the Twin Towers? Enough!

Someone is counting on making us fearful. And to what end?

Rejecting this kind of rhetoric, however, we should do the right thing. That is pay attention to Hurricane Ike's victims, to our infrastructure, to fixing the health care system in our country and making it fair, to preventing economic collapse, to caring for the poor and to being good global citizens. Save your money, folks, this tax-deductible contribution will go to an organization that hopes to create fear instead of action toward a peaceful world.

Karen MoormanDurham

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Hmm, a DVD made in 2005 about the threat of radical Islam delivered to my door in 2008. The problem can't be that urgent or I'm sure the distribution would have been timelier. But wait, aren't national elections less than two months away? And with a national distribution, well, national if you mean distributed by newspapers only in the 14 swing states that may sway that national election. And funded from a nonprofit organization that won't disclose its leadership -- you couldn't cite this source in a high school term paper.

For The N&O to treat distributing this inflammatory DVD of fear as equivalent to test marketing a new breakfast cereal or detergent is disingenuous at best and overtly political at worst. I knew the print news business was in dire straits financially, but I didn't expect you to lie back and turn political tricks to make up the difference. And if it seems that I'm comparing this betrayal of the public trust to prostitution, I am.

However, my apologies go to the professionals in that business for unfairly comparing them to unskilled amateurs who try to coyly cloak themselves in the constitutional protection of free speech.

Wayne DockeryClayton

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I cannot believe that I was sent the hate-inflaming, fear-mongering video disk "Obsession" in my newspaper! What will you enclose next? KKK robes? It's all frightening images of 9/11, scenes of thousands of Muslims juxtaposed with Nazis, more 9/11, more Muslims, more Nazis -- everything calculated to invoke fear and stop thinking. And to destroy Christians' and Jews' respect and relationships with Muslims.

And did you notice that it was marketed through newspapers in swing states for the upcoming presidential election? The film claims to be about propaganda, but it is propaganda.

Well, this is one middle-aged, white, Jewish, working person who won't subscribe to that. Cancel my N&O subscription immediately.

Margaret LewisDurham

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Thanks for being part of the nationwide distribution of the documentary "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West." Thanks also for the news article based on the controversial nature of the DVD. The producers of the film appeared to focus on the hatred promoted by radical Islam. Anyone who doesn't think hate is controversial is sadly deceived.

Local Muslims need not feel vulnerable because of the documentary. Christians and Jews do not want any Muslims dead, but rather we want all to have eternal life. Eternal life is not attained through hate, but through understanding love.

My other observation is that "promoting understanding" is a two-way street. Dialogue with Gospel-believing Christians in an atmosphere where the Bible is not forbidden can be a garden of understanding.

William TaylorKnightdale

--------------------------------------------------------- The "Obsession" DVD is trash. Yes, I watched it, the whole stinking thing. The only parallel with Nazi propaganda is the group that produces this garbage.

A responsible newspaper would be obligated to investigate the folks hiding behind a nonprofit in an attempt to manipulate a national election. Take a look at the list of papers that got treated to this. What states are they in? Who is the Clarion Group?

Did you folks watch it before you included it? This is the same fear-mongering garbage we've been subjected to for the last eight years. Someone wants us to ignore the failing economy and the assaults on our constitutional rights. They want us afraid; fearful people do what they're told.

Just my 2-cents worth. I hope you get an earful on this one.

Christopher BrowningCarrboro---------------------------------------------------------

There is no doubt that this DVD, "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West," will serve only to worsen Islamophobia, bigotry and hatred in the American society in a time that we need dialogue, tolerance and coexistence. These people have been launching a nasty war against Muslims and their religion for a long time before 9/11. Palestinians, for example (Palestinian Christians included), have been denied their basic human rights for over 50 years and yet they are still labeled as "terrorists" in the mainstream American media. The Israeli government (Jews, with the support of the Christian West) confiscate their lands, bomb their homes, imprison their children and, in the end of the day, Palestinians are viewed as terrorists.

I wish that The N&O would not partake in advocating the distribution of this misleading DVD.

Jamal KhraisChapel Hill

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Thank you so much for having the courage to distribute this important and timely piece of information. We need desperately to be informed of the differences between those who practice the Muslim faith and radical Islamic extremists. In this way, perhaps, we can be more accepting on the one hand and more diligently focused on the other.

The documentary clearly makes the point that I have long held, i.e., religious extremism of any stripe -- including that of the Christian right -- is something of which we need to be both highly informed and particularly wary.

Peter DiMeoCary

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The N&O claims that one of its goals is: "To serve the public interest as a watchdog over those with power and a champion of those without it." Your distribution of the "Obsession" DVD was a blatant political sell-out to those already in power who only know the rule of fear and brainwashing. It was especially distasteful on the heels of Sept. 11. Who are you really serving?

Becky McElroyRaleigh

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The word "nationwide" was incorrectly included in the headline of the article concerning the DVD that accompanied The N&O on Sept. 13 ("Controversial film on Islam delivered nationwide"). The DVD was distributed only in Ohio, Michigan, Virginia, Wisconsin and other battleground states in the presidential election. The distribution clearly has a partisan intent, and I was dismayed to read that the producer, the Clarion Foundation, is a tax-exempt foundation. A Web search that revealed that the Clarion Foundation is involved in sponsoring science fiction workshops, which suggests that the DVD has other sponsors. The DVD includes the cast of characters who promoted the war in Iraq, and I suspect that they are now beating the drums for a war with Iran.

Michael CaplowChapel Hill

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How dare you distribute right-wing propaganda inside your newspaper? Imagine my surprise to find the Clarion Fund's "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West" snuck into my home, hidden inside your newspaper? I demand that you refund me for that day's paper.

If I ever receive such garbage again along with my paper, my long-term subscription to your paper will end the following day.

William NolandDurham

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I cherish reading the paper on Saturday mornings. But this Saturday was interrupted by a "radical" movie inserted into my morning paper. Since they couldn't get Hollywood to distribute the movie, the producers paid off the media to do it for them.

These are certainly tough economic times if money can buy the right to distribute hate speech in mainstream media. I think we should be worried instead about the West's obsession with Islam. With the vast distribution of the newspapers listed on the movie bio, I expect several tens of millions of households had the same rude awakening I did. You can put the lipstick of Michael Moore-style selective editing on the propaganda "pig," but it's still propaganda, and it still reeks.

Ali ZelmatRaleigh

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I understand that The N&O and its parent company are in a struggle for survival. But I am curious as to what leads company executives to think that it will gain more than it loses by accepting pay for distributing vile, hate-mongering propaganda.

You effectively acknowledge the nature of this material by printing on the front page religion writer Yonat Shimron's story, quoting N&O vice president for display advertising Jim McClure's cowardly citing of the disingenuous disclaimer by the producers of the propaganda, followed by the truth about who they are.

I have been considering dropping my subscription already, due to decreased news coverage. I continue to take the paper as much for the comics as anything. I have come to enjoy "Mallard Fillmore" as a stunning example of the difference between right-wing and left-wing political humor: Fillmore is stupid and not humorous. I'll miss him if I decide to cancel.

Scott A. WeirDurham

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I wasn't shocked when I got a hate-filled DVD with my newspaper. After all, it is an election year. I wasn't shocked when I saw that The N&O ran a story about it on the front page. After all, the N&O strives for objectivity. And, of course, I wasn't shocked when an N&O representative declined to say what the paper is charging to deliver the DVD.

But, please, in the future when the N&O next decides to sell its editorial soul, let us know how much you got for it. We're curious just how much money integrity brings on the open market these days.

Allen MurrayDurham

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I am no proponent of the Islamic way, but I was shocked that you advertised that "home delivery" subscribers would receive the video in their paper and then we didn't receive it! I did not receive one nor did my neighbors. Did The N&O commit censorship or did the carrier perform this deed for you? Either way, you or your independent contractor are accountable and liable to explain this missing video to the public.

Please publicly explain to your readers how this happened and who is responsible. If the distribution was a fee paid process, you have even more explaining to do.

Thomas EvansClayton

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I assume at Christmas time, we subscribers will receive the DVD "Transgression: Degenerate Christianity" about priests who sexually molest children. No? Because your publisher and editors would be run out of town on a rail? And yet, the percentage of priests who behaved criminally was much higher than the percentage of Muslims who promote violence. You won't divulge how many pieces of silver you took for this outrage. Perhaps, you'll share how many Muslims are on your editorial staff. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Nancy SimpsonRaleigh

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Oh, please! Freedom of speech? I don't think so. You have drastically cut your staff. You have cut the newspaper until it has only enough news articles to accommodate the advertising you have sold, and now you want us to believe that the Sept. 13 propaganda insert is all about freedom of speech?

We are more astute than you give us credit for. You did it for the revenue. That is clear and obvious. As for me, I am done. I am no longer willing to pay your outrageous prices for a paper that is all advertising and no meat. Your biased opinions stop here for me.

Alice LigonCary

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With all the garbage, lies and violence in this world, I was horrified to find a hate-filled DVD in my N&O box with my newspaper this morning. I daresay I am not alone in expressing my repugnance and a feeling of betrayal that your advertising department has used me, as your subscriber, to promote such trash.

I would rather pay more for my newspaper or cancel my subscription than be subjected to such a distasteful intrusion. Are you so desperate as to offer yourself for hire at any cost? Isn't there a name for that?

Carole CorwinFremont

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I accept The N&O editor's concerns, expressed in a front page article, about its publisher's decision to distribute a hate DVD with the Sept. 13 newspaper. I understood the editor to be acknowledging this was a violation of the public trust. The flyer accompanying the DVD seems to be saying that we must fear people of the Muslim faith and not elect a president in November who is a Muslim.

Some Christian groups have been spreading a lie that Barack Obama is a Muslim. He is a Christian, but what difference should it make what he is? When I examined this material, I wondered whether the publisher would also distribute, in the name of "freedom of speech," a DVD prepared by the Klu Klux Klan? It seems to me this DVD is distributed by people who hate and, I suspect, was paid for by many who claim to be Christians.

People have throughout history expressed their hate of blacks, Jews, Mormons, Catholics, homosexuals, mainline protestants and now Muslims. Their intervention in politics and government has been documented throughout history, including those in 1948 who claimed that Harry S. Truman was a Jew because his great-grandfather's name was "Solomon."

We should do everything in our power to keep such hateful people from dragging us back into the Middle Ages in their attempt to install a theocracy. The distributors asked N&O subscribers to view their DVD and, in November, to vote against people who do not support their view. Do this, and they will control you.

Ross L. PipesDurham

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How shameful: this stealth, duck-and-cover attempt to stir up yet more xenophobia and fear among the residents of North Carolina, as the election draws nearer.

I fail to see how this is going to help your declining circulation numbers. Even if you generated some revenue with this ploy -- even if you convinced the less-refined minds of your readership that this was some kind of public service -- to the rest of us you have cast yourself as one more enabler of hate and one more merchant of half-truths.

This is on you, not the Clarion hate-mongers who are expected to peddle narrow-minded, selective points of view. You should be about news. You should be ashamed.

Gary DavisDurham

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I was more than incensed today when I opened my newspaper and found the "Obsession" DVD. As a McClatchy newspaper, is The N&O not allowed to decide to whom you sell advertising? It seems to me this is one time you should have declined the money. The spokesman for the fund that is distributing the "Obsession" DVD may claim that this just happens to coincide with Ramadan, but it is no coincidence that it is being distributed so close to our presidential election.

Ever since Sept. 11, 2001, Republicans have used their terrorist scare tactics to try and get votes, claiming that they are somehow more capable of defending our country. What they are better at is getting our country involved in war. It isn't coincidental that this horrid production is only being distributed in newspapers in swing states.

I believe that this DVD distribution has nothing at all to do with free speech. They claim to be nonpartisan, that neither of the presidential candidates is discussing this topic. But we all know about the Rovian tactics of the Republican Party, and for The N&O to cave in to these tactics is extremely disappointing.

Ever since we have lived in Harnett County, we have tried to support The N&O because we have felt that the press plays an important part in keeping our society open. This stunt, however, and the weakness of the press over the last eight years have caused us to reconsider our support. We can get our news elsewhere.

Harriet WhitemanBuies Creek

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I would urge The N&O to reconsider distributing its divisive Obsession DVD to its subscribers. The DVD is biased and inaccurate about the basic tenets of a great religion. Muslims should be given an opportunity to produce a DVD to respond. Would you have the courage to distribute it?

Scott HavilandCary

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The N&O should be ashamed of its attempt to justify including "Obsession" as an advertisement. That the paper felt the need to include any type of justification means someone knew better.

However, in the end, the almighty dollar won, and the paper was forced to create a just reason for accepting this advertisement -- Freedom of Speech. I could understand an explanation like, "We needed the advertising revenue." I would still be angry about receiving the DVD, but I could respect an honest answer.

Instead, the paper chose to hide behind the First Amendment by saying that you tend to err on the side of freedom of speech. If that is the case, why not answer Omid Safi's question about distributing a DVD warning people against the danger of blacks or Jews? By answering that you would distribute such a video surely would result in an advertising request from a white supremacist group. What would you do? I cannot believe that you would accept that advertisement under any circumstances or reasoning.

Or perhaps it was left unanswered because admitting that you would not accept such a request would completely destroy your already weak attempt at justifying distributing "Obsession."

Jared OpalinskiSanford

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I was appalled to open my Sept. 13 N&O and find a hateful and bigoted DVD. I watched the DVD, and while it starts with a statement stating that the documentary is only about radical Islam, it then proceeds to conflate mainstream Islam with Islamic radical terrorism. "They've been infiltrated" states one of the show's commentators, specifically referring to the Muslim community in the U.S. Even if that distortion were not enough, the documentary goes on to liken Islam to the Nazi atrocities of WWII. These are all pernicious and ridiculous falsehoods.

I can't imagine that The N&O would allow this DVD to be distributed if it treated any other religion or group the same way. The only conclusions I can draw is that The N&O either never reviewed the DVD or just doesn't care to be the vessel for outright bigotry. Are we going to get an apology from The N&O or should I expect "The Birth of a Nation" in my next Saturday newspaper?

Peter LutzChapel Hill

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I was so disgusted with the DVD "Obsession" that I found in my newspaper that I could barely stand to hold it long enough to get over to the trash can. It radiates hatred, intolerance and misunderstanding and deserves to be buried in the bottom of all our trash cans.

Why did The N&O think that accepting this insert was a good idea? I know that times are tough in the newspaper business, but would you have been willing to distribute a KKK movie?

My heart goes out to all our Muslim brothers and sisters in the community who will understandably be fearful and angry to see this DVD turn up in the newspaper. I am one American who has great respect for Islam and welcomes religious diversity.

Let's ignore hatemongers who try to spread their incendiary nastiness, not give them an outlet to get into our homes.

Peggy SchaefferDurham

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N&O now stands for "NOTHING and OPINIONS," since that is all that remains after your recent attempt to soften the blow of your corporate attitude to journalism. Obviously, freedom of speech has been crushed by the power of corporate greed. In your blatant attempt to maintain subscribers and corporate advertisers, the release of the anti-Muslim propaganda because you were paid to do so is a pathetic means to keep your sinking ship afloat.

Are readers really supposed to believe that a movie that advertises itself with images combining the star of Islam with a machine gun is going to be informative and educational?

Adding the subheading article to the front page is no better than Pilate washing his hands while still appeasing his corporate sponsors. It says that while you realize that you are potentially insulting a significant portion of your readership, your feeble conscience says that you should say something about it, because -- well, we really need those readers, now don't we?

Obviously, someone made a fast buck on this one. I sincerely hope that your readership has dwindled to such an insignificant number that this garish insult will go unnoticed.

Mike HealeyDurham

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Wow! What a surprise when I opened my N&O to find the hate video "Obsession." Before retiring, I used daily newspapers to teach my fourth-graders about the world and its different cultures. Gee, if I were still teaching, this video could be a classroom aid to show how some use hate and religious intolerance to scare people. However, I would not want to poison young minds by having them watch it.

I hope that The N&O made enough money from this so that employee layoffs will be more rare. I understand the media's obligation to show various viewpoints, but taking money to disseminate such trash cannot be disguised as "allowing" free speech.

Please think about our diverse population before you benefit from further hate dissemination. Fewer teachers with racially and religiously diverse classrooms can now use the paper for educational purposes. It is truly a shame.

Mary GilbertRaleigh

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We have subscribed to The N&O since we moved to this community over 12 years ago. Overall I have been pleased, but there has been a steady deterioration of quality. The inclusion of the radical Islam CD was simply too much. I am appalled, I am outraged. This is fearmongering, pure and simple.

What's next? Distributing "Mein Kampf" or the "Protocols of Zion"? My subscription has been canceled. It should be an embarrassment to have the N&O in your driveway each morning.

Steve SmithCary

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It is early Saturday morning. Although the Triangle is calm, unlike much of our world.Ike is raging, and our country is in a very delicate state in a multitude of ways.So The N&O has decided to include an extremist DVD on extremism. How irresponsible, political and downright evil.

Debbie EarpDurham

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I was disgusted when I received my newspaper this morning and found a video [and flyer] about radical Islam. I do not appreciate nor do I want to receive blatant propaganda of this type. Although the "nonprofit organization" that is behind this paid the N&O to distribute it, I do not think it was appropriate for the N&O to engage in the delivery of such material. And then to have an article about it on the front page of the newspaper made it even more objectionable.

Will I be receiving racist videos paid for by the KKK? Antisemitic DVDs paid for by the Nazi Party or other white supremacists? Sexist videos by rightwing antifeminist groups? Antiabortion propaganda by the religious right?

Yes, I can just throw all of this away if I receive it, just as I did with this piece of trash. But I believe that The N&O needs to examine the corporate ethics that allow the newspaper to take money from such groups in exchange for delivering their propaganda. It is not all about the mighty dollar.Lynn Wesson, M.D.Hillsborough

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I am appalled at the message of hate, fear and vengeance of your paid DVD insert "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West." It is purportedly a "documentary," yet it is packaged by people, including "experts," who for years have chosen obsessively to label anyone who dares to object to Israel's Middle East policy as anti-Semitic.

I am also concerned that viewers who have little time to look beyond the violent images will accept it as "truth" -- this would be especially damaging to children.

The film mainly depicts footage from Palestinian TV of Hamas, Lebanon's Hezbollah vituperative imams and Iran, all translated by the Israeli-oriented media watchdog MEMRI. It attempts to equate Islamists with Hitler. Although the first seconds of the video say most Muslims are not violent, 59 minutes pound out Muslim violence, primarily against Israel, and conflate Israel's enemies with the terrorist attacks on the United States, England, and Spain.

Nowhere are the voices of moderate Muslims, either American or foreign, heard in this driving message.

One of their "experts" says of Hezbollah: "If you want to get people to fight, you have to convince them there is a threat." That's just what this film is fomenting, too. Is this why millions have been spent paying for DVDs in dozens of newspapers?

As you noted in your Sept. 13 article "Controversial film on Islam delivered nationwide," the financial backer, Clarion Fund, provides no information on it board, staff or sponsors, as is evident from its scant Web site, and its online "education" is done by an equally opaque "Fighting Radical Islam.org."

Where are the millions of dollars to amplify the voices of Muslim-Americans who some of us know are actively seeking peace and justice, who are sick as we are of violence, and ready to work with all of us toward our common goals?

I am disappointed that newspapers like The News & Observer and The New York Times chose to distribute this DVD. What we need is "equal time" for voices that urge peaceful means to end violence and bring about justice.

Nancy Milio, Ph.D.Chapel Hill

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Thank you for your role in distributing the "Obsession" DVD. Most people are unaware of or don't care about the very real Muslim threat to the world. These people don't merely want to rule the earth -- they want to eliminate everyone who is a non-Muslim. "America Alone" is further excellent reading about Muslim intentions. The threat is real! Anyone who is familiar with Adolph Hitler's rise to power will see it as "deja vu all over again."

Again, I want to thank The N&O (which is something I rarely do). I'm sure that you, the DVD producers, and anyone else associated with the production and distribution of this warning are on a list to have your heads removed. I suppose that I just got added to the list for writing this e-mail.

Donald F. JohnstonCary

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The 60-minute DVD titled "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West" and its mass distribution coinciding with the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks and the post election race for the presidency are by know means a coincidence. It is a desperate maneuver to affect the outcome of the presidential election and the opportunity to make Americans more fearful of Muslims and Islamic presence in this country.

DVDs were distributed in national editions of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal within selected swing states. These included Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Colorado, Iowa, Florida, Wisconsin, Nevada, New Hampshire and Virginia.

It came as no surprise that North Carolina, another battleground state that John McCain must win to reach 270 electoral votes, was selected to distribute 160,000 copies of the DVD by the state's leading newspaper. It is timely, biased and an action that seeks to revitalize a pathetic game plan initiated by McCain's selection of an unskilled running mate who lacks depth.

Analysis should be balanced and fair even if it fails to fall right on the mark. It is a journalistic art form unlikely to occur in communication venues that cannot manage to shed their partisan platform, and who deliberately do an awful job of hitting both sides of the view with equal toughness and fairness.

The citizens of this country can better benefit from competent journalism that addresses such issues as a matter of social relativity than sensationalism. Networks can advance common issues of concern by educating the public about those patterns that lead to such unnecessary civil strife and division; devising advanced protocols for sensitive issues which allow follow-up as a way of communicating our concerns to those who have the skill to address them. The founders of the United States enacted the First Amendment to distinguish their new government from that of England, which had long censored the press and prosecuted persons who dared to criticize the British Crown. As Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart explained in a 1974 speech, the "primary purpose" of the First Amendment was "to create a fourth institution outside the government as an additional check on the three official branches" (the executive branch, the legislature and the judiciary).

The idea stated in these aged, but familiar words of aspiration allows for anyone to choose or not to choose in be involved in a nation's deception -- assuming that he is not already involved in the proceeds that are reaped by mass manipulation.

Lies, (by half-facts or omissions), are not the mindless or unexpected outcome of the media communications. Propaganda is strategic and makes perfect sense within the times in which we live: More than any other time in our history, harassed by the proliferation and exposure of unprecedented exploitation on all sides and most of it, as we know, to the profit of our own government and lobbyist, the media have facilitated the legislative branch of the United States government in becoming a slave to the desires corporate America and governments who oppose Islam. This has continued to occur, regardless of the fact that this country has become increasingly subjected to criticism by nations who no longer trust our leadership and intentions. From 9/11 until today, Islamic organizations have genuinely worked hard, furthering interfaith dialogue and understanding; developing humanitarian outreaches and defining ourselves more clearly, so that others, with a limited perspective, could not do.

As a religious entity, Muslims have not been left unscathed by the actions of a handful of men and the flames of the two towers. It did, however, open the collective eyes of many Islamic communities and release them from elbow-resting posturing. Sadly it was those cries from burning buildings and the rubble of crashing planes that compelled us to face our own effectiveness. We could not continue to live oblivious to the social circumstances around us.

But just as I don't expect Christians to apologize for the sins of Timothy McVeigh or Eric Rudolph, Muslims should not be forced to make atonement for those who instigated a plan to send crashing planes into building. If America chooses to look at Muslims and Islam from a narrow view rather than a wider one, then it errs from a simplistic view fueled by superstition and ignorance of a religion that enjoins peaceful coexistence and religious tolerance.

The doors of mosque across America have always been open to any respectful human being with the inclination to come inside. Our organizations look forward to indulging in peaceful dialogue, and diversity is welcome. We are ordinary people who seek to co-exist with others who follow the laws of God and man. We ask other Americans, and the media, to allow us to do so.

Khalilah SabraState Director, MAS-Freedom, North CarolinaRaleigh

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Just two days after the seventh anniversary of the greatest tragedy to ever befall our proud nation, I was not only angered but saddened at what I found when I opened the Sept. 13 edition of The News & Observer.

I realize and acknowledge that radical Islam exists and that its hatred for our people and country is real. In fact, I have no doubt that the U.S. today is more hated than ever before. I imagine nothing could help fuel a people's already intense hatred for another people better than the latter invading the former's country, killing its people, mocking its religion, and destroying its land -- and doing all of this under the guise of liberation.

However, thanks to the last eight years under the current administration, there are now a plethora of important and threatening issues facing our great nation I have not seen The N&O distribute any of the many excellent documentaries that have, over the recent years, focused on issues that have affected and continue to affect our economy, our technology, our healthcare, our environment, or our government. Surely these are also important issues to Americans?

No, instead The N&O would rather continue the propagation of spreading fear by focusing on radical Islam and its vendetta against Americans. The timing of this audacity is especially interesting. Just seven years after the tragedy of 9/11 and in the midst of what could be the most important presidential election in our nations history.

Please understand what I mean when I use the word fear. I am not saying that all is well and that I live in a bubble, but what I am saying is that, as Americans what we should fear and what we are still being told to fear are completely unrelated. We are still being told to cling to the fear of another 9/11, not on the basis that it is necessarily eminent, but largely because such a fear is advantageous to those who are in power and for those who seek to rise to power (the confused, divided, and afraid, after all, are easier to lead).

There are many reasons why we, as Americans, actually should be afraid, but these reasons generate from sources much closer to home than the Middle East. We should be afraid because we are still in the grips of the very administration that entrenched us in a war that uses real money and bleeds real blood, but for which we had no real justification for starting and which has no real end in sight.

Real journalism is about keeping people informed and exposing truth, and I am sorry to say the News and Observer has failed miserably on both counts by proving today that it is nothing more than a propaganda machine.

The quote in your Sept. 13 story that "As a newspaper we tend to shy away from censorship" would be laughable if it were not concerning such a serious issue as this. It is more likely that The N&O would not "shy away" from the advertising dollars.

Ashley AppleRaleigh

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