Sunday, June 3, 2012

Murfreesboro vs. the Mosque, Part 2

More than a year ago, in March 2011, I wrote about a documentary addressing the proposed construction of a mosque in Tennessee. (Original post: I was outraged at the clear bias, and naivete about its subject, deonstrated by the producers of the film, which ham-handedly portrayed the non-Muslim residents of Murfreesboro as bigots while the Muslims were victims of systematic discrimination.

Now, Eric Allen Bell, the producer of "Unwelcome" has come out and admitted that he was duped by those promoting the mosque: the background of a lot of the Muslim community leaders was shady, the mosque leadership was tied up with radical organizations, and that the production crew was told lie after lie that misrepresented the Muslims' involvement in the issue.

One segment of the film addressed vandalism that was supposedly a warning to the Muslims to cease mosque construction. But the villainous Murfreesboro residents didn't do anything as retro as burning a cross on the site; they damaged construction equipment. Bell writes:
"News broke in late August that there had been an attempted arson, on some construction equipment, after breaking ground for the new mosque. Mrs. Ayash was very pregnant at the time and had not yet been exposed in the Tennessean newspaper for her past criminal record. She called a press conference, which was held right in front of a partially burned tractor and told the media that she was very troubled and surprised by this kind of reaction to an innocent mosque. Not long afterwards, news broke that police had finally caught the man who had vandalized another mosque, in a town not far away. And as it turned out, he was a Muslim and a member of the congregation."

Well, duh.

The article is worth reading in its entirety. ( It's instructive to see what happens to an earnest, well-meaning producer who thinks he's sticking up for the underdog and instead discovers that he was manipulated to further a false narrative. He says,

"The premise of “Not Welcome” was that, contained within this image of the defaced sign, was a story. And I felt that within the story of this defaced sign was the story of human civilization and our inability to peacefully coexist. I may have been a bit na├»ve, but I meant well. Coexistence seemed like a good idea. And Mufreesboro seemed like a microcosm of the world, and an excellent jumping off point to look more deeply and how and why we are divided as a people on this planet. Little did I know that I was going down a rabbit hole, for which there was no turning back. And so I did a lot of bad things, thinking they were good things. I helped a colleague at “The Daily Show” in their attempt to humiliate prominent members of the Mufreesboro Counter Jihad movement. I accepted the support of Michael Moore, to expose what I (wrongly) thought was a foaming at the mouth, bigoted Evangelical bullying of a minority group. I said and did things, in print, on the news, everywhere, which have consequences. And much of my work today is focused on correcting my mistakes and educating the world about what I now know to be the defining issue of our time: The grave threat of Political Islam."

Before the end of the ordeal, he is threatened with genital mutilation, his private medical records are leaked to the public (possibly by one of the young Muslims who "befriended" him and then offered to use her position as a pharmacy tech to smear an anti-mosque person, an offer Bell declined) and his personal contact information was made public, along with hints that he would be made to pay for his recent "Islamophobic" views.

As for me, the bullet points at the end of my original post were all right on the money. I hate to say "I told you so," but.....

I told you so!

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