Movies Are Prayers by Josh Larsen, Free for CAPC Members
In Movies Are Prayers, Josh Larsen exemplifies how critical engagement with a film can be an act of neighbor-love.
The following is a detailed look at a conflict which took place last year at the Arab Festival in Dearborn, Michigan, in which Christians were assaulted for “preaching.” This post was originally published in June 2012. This week a federal judge threw out the case against the police who failed to stop the assault (allegedly) and asked the street preachers to leave. While many publications have spun this incident as an example of Muslim violence and savagery, as I show here, the true story is a lot more complex.
Earlier this year, I wrote a excruciatingly detailed feature article describing how Wretched TV had deceptively edited footage of some Christian street preachers at the Arabfest in Dearborn, Michigan, in order to portray the Muslims in attendance as violent, bloodthirsty foreigners. I pointed out that the “Christian” preachers were led by Ruban Israel, a notorious street preacher (who was and is not supported by or connected to Wretched TV) who went to the festival specifically to agitate and incite the Muslims. If you look at unedited footage of the event, it’s clear that the “Christians” were inciting Muslims to hate, which, of course, never justifies violence, but it does explain why it happens.
I bring this up because it’s happened again. Ruben Israel returned this year to the Arab Festival and once again incited the festival goers to scream and yell and throw trash. Although Wretched TV did not report the story this year, it was picked up by The Blaze, American Vision, American Thinker, FrontPage Magazine, and other, smaller conservative websites.
Each of these reports has included and cited a YouTube video edited by The United West, a group “dedicated to defending and advancing Western Civilization against the kinetic and cultural onslaught of Shariah Islam.” Good journalism would demand that these sites check their source and consider possible biases, but, for whatever reason, these conservative news sites report on the event as if the video was an accurate representation of what occurred. But it was not. Not at all. Here’s United West’s video:
I wish I had the time and energy to point out every deceptive edit in this video and all the manipulative ways in which this event was reported on, but I don’t. So here’s a short list, and if you’re interested in seeing more, watch the unedited, hour long YouTube video of the incident. Watch carefully. It looks a lot different if you’re paying attention.
1. The United West video (see here) and many of the reports on this incident either claim or insinuate that the police did nothing to stop the kids from throwing trash at Ruben and his friends.
However, in the unedited video, you can see the police intervene once, twice (note the police dragging a kid off at this point—something none of the articles mention), thrice, fourse [sic] (note that this appears to be another arrest or citation? Again, never mentioned in any of the reports I listed), and I’m not going to bother looking for more examples.
Bottom line: The video lies/misrepresents the truth and each of these reports, either in ignorance (in which case they are examples of bad journalism) or knowingly repeats this lie or fails to challenge it (in the case of The Blaze).
2. Muslim adults repeatedly work to calm down and stop the kids from yelling and throwing trash. In fact, one, an apparently Muslim man stands in front of the Christians, protecting them from the angry crowd. Does this mean Islam is a religion of peace? Nope, it just means that this man (as well as many others in the video) wanted to prevent violence from happening. Does the fact that the “mob” of kids threw trash and possibly a piece of concrete mean that Islam is a religion of violence? Nope, it just means that some kids got offended and angry.
If we want to discuss whether or not Islam is inherently violent, we need to look for evidence elsewhere.
3. The video edits out the part where Ruben Israel explains to a police officer that they have a pig head on a pole because Muslims are “petrified” of pigs and so it “keeps them at bay.” No really. He says that. Can you understand now why a group of Arab kids might feel threatened by these predominately white Christians coming to their cultural festival to shout at them that they are going to hell and that their religion is a lie? Get a bunch of kids together, mock their beliefs, try to ward them away with a pig head on a stick, yell at them, and no matter what religion they are, don’t be surprised if they start throwing trash. That doesn’t in any way justify their action, but it does explain it.
4. As you watch the video it is clear that the police helped protect the Christians when they could. Could they have done a better job? Perhaps. It’s not clear from the video how many people were in attendance (I believe it was around 100k) or how many officers were available to help out. But it is clear that those officers did in fact intervene and protect the Christians several times.
5. It is also clear that this group of Christians was almost entirely focused on angering these Muslims, forcing the police to protect them after they had incited violence, and complaining over and over again about their rights and how they were being persecuted. What on earth does this have to do with lovingly sharing the Gospel to lost people? How is a preoccupation with asserting your rights honoring to God?
6. In United West’s edited video (which has over 440,000 views in three days [and now, in May 2013 it has 1.3 million views]), they show a clip of an adult Muslim telling the kids to either jump the Christians or leave. What they cut out are the shots of this same man pushing kids away from the Christians, trying to disperse the crowd, multiple times. By cutting these shots out, United West has given the impression that this adult was egging the kids on to violence; when in actuality, he seems to have been calling their bluff and trying to get them to realize how foolish they had been acting.
They also cut out Ruben Israel mocking the crowd for being a “religion of peace.” And one of the other “preachers” yelling at the kids that all they think about is violence and murder and hate. Again, absolutely none of this excuses some of the criminal violence done by a few Muslims, mostly teens and kids. But for them to edit out these shots in order to leave the impression that no one at the event tried to stop these kids and that therefore Muslims are inherently violent, is wrong.
7. Nine days before they posted their very popular article describing the “alleged” “stoning” of Christians, The Blaze published this account of the incident: SCREAMING ANTI-ISLAM PROTESTERS TAUNT MUSLIMS WITH PIG’S HEAD: ‘YOU’RE GOING TO MELT IN THE FIRES OF HELL!’ In this article, by Billy Hallowell, we read that “authorities in Wayne County attempted to keep calm and order between the two parties, as they tried to separate them—a difficult task considering the religious nature of the fighting at hand.” And that “some of the attendees chanted ‘Allah-U-Akbar,’ which translates to ‘God is the greatest.’ The Christians responded with, ‘Jesus Akbar.’”
But when they post their second article, by Mytheos Holt, over a week later, here’s the title: ‘ALLAHU AKBAR’: SHOCK VIDEO SHOWS MUSLIMS ALLEGEDLY ‘STONING’ CHRISTIAN PROTESTERS IN…MICHIGAN. We read nothing about the authorities stepping in to separate these groups. We hardly read anything about the hateful message that Israel’s group was spreading. And we don’t hear about how the Christians were responding to “Allah-U-Akbar” with “Jesus Akbar.”
What happened? How did The Blaze forget about Hallowell’s article? How did they publish an article and a video that misrepresent an incident that they reported on accurately nine days previous? And, even more perplexing, how did they miss all this when there is a huge link to Hallowell’s article at the beginning of Holt’s?
As of my writing this at 2 a.m., Holt’s article has been shared 7,600 times on Facebook. Hallowell’s? 650. Think about that. An article reportedly showing violent Muslims attacking Christians got shared over ten times as much as an article reportedly showing a group of Christians preaching hate.
To make matters worse, look at the editorial commentary at the beginning of Holt’s piece: “The conservative preoccupation with presenting Sharia law as a threat to the United States’ culture as well as its national security has long been an unwarranted source of liberal derision. They may want to rethink their attitude after this story.”
Here’s why this matters, folks. Deception and/or sloppy journalism like this is used to justify bad political policies. Don’t believe the spin. Watch for yourself.
Let me leave you with the thoughts of one Muslim who was deeply offended by these “Christians” and called them out on what he felt was their real intentions: provoking Muslims to violence so that they can use it as evidence of the inherent violence of Islam. By the way, this guy appears in The United West’s edited video, but, conspicuously, the following comments don’t make the cut: Unedited video (warning, STRONG language).
Update 1: 06-28-12
Made minor changes to emphasize the fact that Todd Friel and Wretched TV are not connected to or in support of Ruben Israel and his antics.
Update 2: 06-29-12
The DearbornPatch is reporting that there were numerous citations issued relating to this incident:
“The Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, which oversaw security at the festival, did issue tickets to one adult and six youth for disturbing the peace on the first day of the festival while the protest was occurring.”
Here’s what the Sheriff’s department had to say about the lack of arrests:
“While two individuals were going to be charged with assault and battery on Friday, we could not locate the potential complainants so those cases were then classified as disturbing the peace,” the department said in a statement. “No injuries were reported nor were there requests for medical assistance during the incident in question.”
In other words, here is even more evidence that the police did indeed act to protect Ruben and his crew and to punish those who were causing trouble, in direct contradiction to what The United West’s edited video reports.
Update 3: 06-29-12
Added point #6 after reviewing the footage again.
Update 4: 05-15-13
The Christian Post is reporting that a federal judge has thrown out Ruben Israel (&co)’s case against the Dearborn police based on this incident last year:
Judge Patrick J. Duggan decided that the group Bible Believers did not have a case against the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office regarding the actions taken at an outbreak of violence at the Arab International Festival in Dearborn.
“Plaintiffs have cited no authority, and the Court has not located any, for the proposition that free speech rights categorically trump the authority of municipal entities to preserve order and protect public safety,” wrote Duggan.
“The Court finds that the actual demonstration of violence here provided the requisite justification for [the Wayne County sheriffs’] intervention, even if the officials acted as they did because of the effect the speech had on the crowd.”
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