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Jack Shaheen has a question for you. Can you think of an instance where Arabs were portrayed humanely or heroically in the Western media? Some years ago, Professor Emeritus Shaheen (Southern Illinois University) asked this question of more than 200 American secondary school teachers. Only a handful could respond ... and these were secondary school teachers! Think how dismal the results would be among the general population. In America, anti-Arab sentiment has been called the 'last accepted racism'. Commentators as diverse as Denis Halliday and Scott Ritter have cited this, the ugliest of racial politics, as an ennabling factor in the calamitous sanctions against Iraq. The portrayal of Arabs by the American media has drawn the criticism of the UN's Commission on Human Rights <http://www.unhcr.ch/refworld/un/chr/chr95/country/78add1.htm>. So against the silent backdrop of an excess 500,000 deaths of Iraqi children since sanctions began, we have two revolting new films from Paramount: >> "Rules of Engagement" was released last weekend and is the top-grossing picture in the U.S. The trailers for this film are appalling; the film, if possible, is worse. The ADC's letter, below, says it all. >> "Deterrence" sets up a cheery scenario: in 2008, Saddam Hussein's successor invades Kuwait, slaughtering a U.N. force under American leadership. In response, the U.S. president threatens a retaliatory nuclear attack on Baghdad, giving the residents exactly one hour and 20 minutes to vacate the city. Unlike "Rules", "Deterrence" had a limited release and appears to be on the fast-track to video. A Washington Post review is attached. Nearly as frightful as the movies are critics' blindness to the insidious message. Not one review of "Rules" (I've read five) mentioned the racial subtext ... an omission as worrisome as the film itself. Regards, Drew Hamre Golden Valley, MN USA P.S. -- In a bit of real-world political irony, "Rules" co-star Tommy Lee Jones was VP Al Gore's roommate at Harvard. === ADC Press Release/Action Alert: Protest Paramount's Racist Film "Rules of Engagement" ACTION REQUESTED: Please contact Paramount Pictures and let them know that such blatant anti-Arab racism is unacceptable. Write to: Ms. Sherry Lansing Chair Paramount Motion Pictures Group 5555 Melrose Avenue Hollywood, CA 90038-3197 Or fax to: (323) 862-8456 Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org Please use the letter and/or press release below as talking points, and please cc any correspondence to <email@example.com>. ADC is also encouraging its members and chapters to consider organizing protests and pickets at cinemas showing "Rules of Engagement." If ever a film deserved to be protested, this is it. Please contact ADC for advice or assistance. TEXT OF ADC PRESS RELEASE: Arab Americans Denounce Paramount's Racist Film "Rules of Engagement" Washington D.C., April 11 - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the nation's largest grassroots Arab-American organization, in an open letter to Paramount Pictures Chair Shelly Lansing denounced the new Paramount film "Rules of Engagement." Released on Friday, "Rules of Engagement" was the number one grossing film over the weekend earning $15 million. ADC writes that "'Rules of Engagement can only be considered in the same light as other films whose raison d'etre is to deliberately and systematically vilify an entire people, such as 'Birth of a Nation' and 'The Eternal Jew.'" The letter from ADC's Communications Director Hussein Ibish to Paramount says that while the film contains countless negative portrayals of Arabs, "sympathetic or positive images of Arabs are easy to list: there are none." Offensive material includes: - Repeated portrayals of Arab children as hateful, vicious and murderous. These children are shown several times shooting guns at the film's US Marine protagonists and shouting curses. - The portrayal of Yemeni society as an anti-American mob just waiting to erupt at any second. The images of Arabs in the film are solely stereotypical - veiled women, men in headscarfs and all shouting fanatical, angry slogans and firing automatic weapons at a peaceful US embassy. - Everyone in Yemen is complicit in the anti-American violence. Witnesses lie. The police lie. Doctors lie. Everyone in Yemen lies. Meanwhile, the streets are literally strewn with cassette tapes calling, again without any apparent reason, for "all good Muslims" to kill any and all Americans they can find. Yemen, we are assured, is a "breeding ground" for terrorists. ADC first contacted Paramount with concerns about "Rules of Engagement" in January, but received no cooperation. ADC wrote that "In spite of this almost total lack of cooperation from Paramount, we continued to hope against hope that 'Rules of Engagement' would not be defamatory against Arabs, and showing the utmost restraint, withheld judgment until viewing the movie in a commercial cinema after its general release." The letter continues: "In retrospect, it is easy to understand why Paramount stonewalled all our attempts at dialogue and refused even the elementary courtesy of a pre-release screening ... [since] these are the images that define the Arab as the quintessential 'other,' and depict all Arabs, men, women and children, as the inherent, irrational and implacable terrorist enemy of the United States. They make the everyday lives of Arab-Americans and Arabs in the United States that much more difficult and dangerous." FULL TEXT OF ADC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR HUSSEIN IBISH'S LETTER TO PARAMOUNT PICTURES: April 11, 2000 Ms. Sherry Lansing Chair Paramount Motion Pictures Group By Fax: 323-862-8456 Dear Ms. Lansing: On January 27, 2000, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the nation's largest Arab-American membership organization, approached Paramount Pictures with serious concerns about "Rules of Engagement," which were raised by images included in trailers for the film which were then available. We reiterated these concerns during numerous telephone conversations with Paramount Executive Vice-President Blaise Noto. Our concerns were never directly addressed, and our repeated requests to view the film were ignored. In spite of this almost total lack of cooperation from Paramount, we continued to hope against hope that "Rules of Engagement" would not be defamatory against Arabs, and showing the utmost restraint, withheld judgment until viewing the movie in a commercial cinema after its general release. I have just returned from that viewing. Nothing in my 36 years as an Arab-American, and my years as a graduate student studying literature and popular culture at the University of Massachusetts, and my one and a half years as Communications Director of ADC, during which I thought I had seen it all, prepared me for the explosion of hatred that burst through the screen during "Rules of Engagement." The incessant torrent of negative, hateful and harmful images of Arabs, Arab culture and the Arab world in "Rules of Engagement" is unequaled by anything I have previously encountered. I tell you frankly that, as an Arab-American, and a fairly thick-skinned one at that, the experience of watching "Rules of Engagement" was like being physically beaten. "Rules of Engagement" contains so many negative portrayals of Arabs that it would be quite impossible to list and analyze all of them. On the other hand, sympathetic or positive images of Arabs are easy to list: there are none. Among the objectionable images are: - Perhaps, the most offensive of all, the repeated portrayals of Arab children as hateful, vicious and murderous. These children are shown several times shooting guns at the film's US Marine protagonists, pretending to shoot guns at them, and shouting hateful curses at them as well. This deliberate defaming of children is truly inexcusable. - The portrayal of Yemeni society as an anti-American mob just waiting to erupt at any second. The mere presence of an unidentified American (played by Tommy Lee Jones) in the streets of what is supposed to be Sana'a is enough to set off a fanatical anti-American mob. We are told that anti-American protests are held outside the US embassy every week. The mob which besieges the US embassy is driven by an undefined hatred of the United States - one can only imagine what they are angry about. Nonetheless, they attack the American embassy with a murderous rage, apparently intent on killing everyone inside. The images of Arabs in the film are only and solely stereotypical - veiled women, men in headscarfs and all shouting fanatical, angry slogans and firing automatic weapons at a peaceful US embassy. Needless to say, such a thing has never happened in Yemen. It is a grotesque defamation and complete distortion of Yemeni society. - Everyone in Yemen seems to be complicit in the anti-American violence. The film make it clear that the mob and the snipers are working hand-in-glove. The government provides no security, and then, in a blatant cover-up, moves in and clears away all the weapons that the demonstrators were using against the American embassy. Witnesses lie. The police lie. Doctors lie. Everyone in Yemen lies. Meanwhile, the streets are literally strewn with cassette tapes calling, again without any apparent reason, for "all good Muslims" to kill any and all Americans they can find. Yemen, we are assured, is a "breeding ground" for terrorists. These images are repeated time and again throughout the movie. For most Americans who see it, "Rules of Engagement" will contain the most "information" about Yemen that they will ever receive in an hour and a half, and possibly in an entire lifetime. Why Paramount chose Yemen for this outrageous exercise in national character assassination and slander, we may never know. But the fact remains that you have done so. In all honesty, I never thought that a film produced in the present day United States could be this unabashedly racist. Mr. Noto's letter of March 30, the only formal communication ADC has received from Paramount during our long months of fruitless effort to engage in a constructive dialogue, claims "'Rules of Engagement' is not anti-Arabic, anti-Moroccan or anti-Yemenite but rather anti-extremist." "This film is not a negative portrayal of any government or people," Mr. Noto writes. In fact, "Rules of Engagement" does not really belong in the same category with most films that include negative or racist portrayals of Arabs. The film does not focus on a terrorist group or band of fanatics, but casts its aspersions far wider by explicitly and directly defaming a whole culture and society. "Rules of Engagement can only be considered in the same light as other films whose raison d'etre is to deliberately and systematically vilify an entire people. The spirit of raw hatred that animated films such as "Birth of a Nation" and "The Eternal Jew" once again dances across the screen in "Rules of Engagement." In retrospect, it is easy to understand why Paramount stonewalled all our attempts at dialogue and refused even the elementary courtesy of a pre-release screening. It is because this movie is absolutely indefensible in its portrayal of Arabs and Arab culture. These are the images that define the Arab as the quintessential "other" in contemporary American culture, that depict all Arabs, men, women and children, as the inherent, irrational and implacable terrorist enemy of the United States. As "Rules of Engagement" so charmingly puts it, these are "motherfuckers" who should be "wasted." These are indeed the images that lead to the high incidence of hate crimes against Arab Americans, that produce airport profiling, that have led to the use of secret evidence in American courts, that make the everyday lives of Arabs in the United States that much more difficult and dangerous. No apology can undo the damage done by "Rules of Engagement." Sadly Paramount's name will be forever associated with this truly appalling film. Yours, Hussein Ibish Communications Director, ADC cc: Sumner M. Redstone, Chair and CEO, Viacom Inc.; Adam Schroeder, Executive Producer, Paramount Pictures; William Friedkin, Director; Blaise Noto, Executive Vice-President, Worldwide Publicity, Marketing Division, Paramount Pictures; ======================================================================== ADC is the largest Arab-American grassroots organization in the United States. It was founded in 1980 by former Senator James Abourezk. To receive membership information, please send us your name and mailing address or visit our website. To receive or stop receiving ADC's email updates, send a message to <firstname.lastname@example.org> with the following in the body: to subscribe type "subscribe updates" to unscubscribe type "unsubscribe updates" ======================================================================== === http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/2000-03/17/027l-031700-idx.html 'Deterrence': A Fascinating Blast By Desson Howe Friday, March 17, 2000; Page N46 A NUCLEAR war movie is, almost by definition, a grabber. It's hard not to become caught up in the possibility of the entire human race turning into radioactive charcoal. Secondly, these movies--from "Seven Days in May" to "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb"--are virtually always structured by a nail-biting, minute-to-minute timeline. The end of the world is ticking away. So you watch the game of global chicken with bated breath: Is the president bluffing or will he go through with those airborne missiles of death? Is the inscrutable, defiant enemy going to fold or stand firm? "Deterrence," starring Kevin Pollak, is a surprisingly gripping experience for a movie of such modest means. Writer-director Rod Lurie has created a well-mounted sequence of tension, which transcends the need for glossy production and special effects. This thing starts small but grows on you, moment by moment. Thanks to a blizzard, President Walter Emerson (Pollak) finds himself stuck in a Colorado diner with his Chief of Staff Marshall Thompson (Timothy Hutton), National Security Adviser Gayle Redford (Sheryl Lee Ralph), his security detail, a video cameraman and a scattering of staff and patrons. The year is 2008. President Emerson, a handpicked vice president who became commander in chief when the president died, is in the middle of the presidential primaries. He is celebrating victory in Colorado when the IBS network reports breaking news. Saddam Hussein's successor in Iraq has invaded the Emirate of Kuwait, slaughtering a U.N. force under American leadership on the way. But the majority of U.S. forces are in position for a breaking crisis in North Korea. An unelected president battling for his party's leadership is facing a two-front war. He must react immediately and decisively. At the risk of spoiling things, let's say the president strongly considers all the possibilities: Let Hussein's successor take over Kuwait or take military action? Conventional or nuclear? The road to the president's final decision is a tortuous (torturous) one. It is the dramatic meat of the movie. Emerson hears from every conceivable corner: advisers Thompson and Redford, who are anything but in agreement, his Cabinet, and the Iraqi U.N. ambassador, to name a few. He also gets a mouthful from the humble taxpayers sitting in Morty's Roadside Diner, including proprietor Harvey (Bajda Djola), a Canadian waitress (Clotilde Courau), two wealthy New Yorkers (Kathryn Morris and Michael Mantell) and a redneck regular (Sean Astin), who hates every foreign nation in existence. Using the IBS cameraman as a hookup, Emerson sits down on a rickety vinyl chair to inform the nation of his decision. The most enjoyable thing about this movie is the modulation of information. Lurie gives us strategic revelations--from the president's religious beliefs to the movie's ultimate punch line--that completely redefine things--and just when you thought you had it all figured. The atmosphere is just right. With its black-and-white opening sequence, followed by color the moment we first encounter the president, Lurie evokes a classic B-movie atmosphere. And in President Emerson, Lurie has created a memorably inscrutable character. As the movie progresses, your interest from the external wartime situation moves inward--to Emerson's moral makeup. What is really going on inside that head? The fate of the world hinges on the question. And that's more than enough to keep you watching until the very end. DETERRENCE (R, 103 minutes) -- Contains emotionally intense material and obscenity. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi