If a DVD titled Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West has fallen out of your newspaper, it's not because print media has given up on people reading. You can thank, or blame, the Clarion Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to exposing the "threat of radical Islam," which has placed the DVDs in ad sections of swing-state newspapers.
Obsession is a documentary that compares Islam to Nazism, citing similarities in hate speech, paranoia, and us-against-them mentality. Very few newspapers have refused the DVD and its accompanying ad revenue. Those that have placed it in their pages — like the New York Times — have justified it by saying that it would violate sponsors’ right to free speech if they were to reject it.
While the Clarion Fund takes credit for distributing the DVD, it does not admit to paying for it. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), saying the Clarion Fund has tried to influence the presidential election and violated its status as a tax-exempt nonprofit.
On air at Democracy Now!, Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesperson for CAIR, questioned the Clarion Fund's motives. To see what he had to say,
It’s a tremendous campaign. It’s unbelievable in its magnitude. We’re talking 28 million households, plus mailings, plus automated phone that are going to people in these swing states, saying, "We just sent you a DVD. Watch it and remember it when you go into the voting booth." So it’s obvious they were trying to influence the presidential election by sending to only key swing states around the country.
And we still don’t know who’s behind this. The Clarion Fund, that claimed to distribute this, is really just a virtual organization. It appears to be a front for a group based in Israel called Aish HaTorah. They share — they shared offices, they shared personnel, and they’re refusing to say who is paying for this, that’s got to be a minimum $50 million campaign.
Do you think the Clarion Fund is trying to promote awareness for what it believes, or is there something more sinister going on?