The Dearborn screening of “Obsession” was more than I had bargained for. In a city that boasts the largest proportion of Arab Americans for a city of its size (nearly a third of the total population), the outcry over the film screening was quite minimal, perhaps even non-existent. This is quite something. Unlike the University of Florida, who, fearful of backlash from Arab students, banned a campus group from showing the film, Obsession representatives were allowed to rent a theater and even book speakers to discuss the issues. Quite surprising indeed.
To be sure, far from portraying all Muslims as evil-doers, the film attempts – and succeeds – in its quest to document one of the greatest threats our country has faced in recent memory. In a place that one would expect objection to a film that, while even-handed in tone, focuses on one religious group as the harbingers of death, destruction, hatred and terror towards all things good in this world, I think this muted response from the Dearborn Muslim population proves a major tenet of the film – that radical and terrorist acts movements are limited to the extreme, radical Muslims, not moderate followers.
Perhaps the quiet of the Dearborn populace had to do with the film’s collection of in-depth interviews with moderate Muslims, who are all up in arms over the way their essentially peaceful religion has been twisted and propagandized into a war against Israel and the West. Obsession does an excellent job of juxtaposing the extremists with the moderates, and this kind of fair shake, I think, is what this discussion needs.
So, if a film that is automatically treated by the Left as a “right-wing propaganda tool” is taken in stride in the most Arab city in the United States, what does that tell us?