Anti-Muslim Fear. America In Transition.

This whole notion of a “Ground Zero Mosque” is a complete fabrication created and spurred on by politicians who are using Americans’ misguided fear as a tool. And the consequences are dire. Now simply being a Muslim is reason enough to fear for your life. Is this America? Yes, it’s America in transition. It’s America learning that it is no better or worse, no stronger or more immune to mass hatred and bigotry than any other country in the world.

Here’s just one example of a politician fueling hatred and twisting facts into a misguided, fear-based movement:

“The folks who want to build this mosque, who are really radical Islamists, who want to triumphfully (sic) prove they can build a mosque next to a place where 3,000 Americans were killed by radical Islamists. Those folks don’t have any interest in reaching out to the community. They’re trying to make a case about supremacy… This happens all the time in America. Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington. We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor.”  —Newt Gingrich

Ironic that Gingrich equated Muslims with Nazis and yet the type of hatred he espouses is far more akin to the early stages of Naziism than anything being promoted by an Islamic Cultural Center. And isn’t a Holocaust Museum’s purpose to forever remind people of the bigotry and hatred that caused the Holocaust in the first place in the hopes of recognizing it and stopping it before it happens again?

One such consequence of Gingrich and others’ fueling of people’s misconceptions and feeding into their fear is that New York Muslim cab driver Ahmed Sharif was slashed from throat to cheek by his fare when he admitted to being Muslim. By a drunk 21 year old Michael Enright caught up in the anti-Muslim fervor.

Or how about the man mistaken for a Muslim who was violently harassed by anti-Mosque ralliers?

While the face of American bigotry and small-mindedness rears its ugly head and reveals its face to the world at large, at least a voice of reason can be heard alongside it as 9/11 families and others stand in protest to the anti-Muslim sentiment sweeping the nation and vocally support the building of the Islamic Cultural Center 2 blocks from Ground Zero that Fox News and a handful of politicians have misleadingly dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque.” New York Neighbors for American Values rallied yesterday near Ground Zero:

“I lost a 23-year-old son, a paramedic who gave his life saving Americans and their values,” Talat Hamdani said, and supporting the Islamic center and mosque “has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with standing up for our human rights, including freedom of religion.”

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of New York’s Shalom Center, said the project will show the world a form of Islam that espouses peace – not the Islam of the terrorists.

“It is right; it is wise to build it,” he told hundreds of people gathered under the arches of Manhattan’s Municipal Building, a short walk from ground zero.

Several coalition members noted that the mosque site’s developer, Sharif el-Gamal, modeled it after the Jewish Community Center on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It serves anyone who wishes to participate, they said, and so will the Muslim center near ground zero.

Stand up for what is right. Don’t be a pawn. And support freedom of religion in America. See the Islamic Cultural Center blocks away from Ground Zero for what it is. Not what you may fear it is.

Anti-Muslim Fear. America In Transition.

Pat & Kevin Tillman: The Words Still Mean Something

Pat Tillman, left, and brother Kevin stand in front of a Chinook helicopter in Saudi Arabia before their tour of duty as Army Rangers in Iraq in 2003.

With the release of the documentary THE TILLMAN STORY, I am taking my cue from and printing here Kevin Tillman’s 2006 article. This was, as some of you will remember, just before the election of President Obama. We were at the tail-end of the Bush/Cheney years and all the horrors that came with it. Horrors we still live with today despite Obama’s noble efforts to turn back the overwhelming tide of destruction caused by the Bush Administration and its supporters. There are many people out there today who still do not understand what was being done during that time. Nor do they see the decades-long build-up to everything we’ve been struggling with lately that began in earnest with the election of Ronald Reagan way back when.

While Obama stumbles his way through a minefield of past illegal-transgressions, a devastated economy, two ongoing wars, the rape of our Constitution, and a severely fractured society, America still struggles to come to terms with all of the realities expressed in Kevin Tillman’s piece. His words still resonate today and it is imperative that we not forget them.

After Pat’s Birthday

By Kevin Tillman

It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after.  It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military.  He spoke about the risks with signing the papers.  How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people.  How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition.  How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice … until we got out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice:

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is.  Something like that.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them.  Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet.  It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.

Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.  Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.  Somehow lying is tolerated.   Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.

Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.

Somehow this is tolerated.  Somehow nobody is accountable for this.

In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.

Luckily this country is still a democracy.  People still have a voice.  People still can take action.  It can start after Pat’s birthday.

Brother and Friend of Pat Tillman,

Kevin Tillman

For more on Pat and Kevin’s story, please go out and see the new documentary, THE TILLMAN STORY, now in theaters.

Pat & Kevin Tillman: The Words Still Mean Something

This Silly “Mosque” Business & John Stewart

We all know the arguments by now so I won’t repeat them. But what I will say is simply this: In order for a Muslim community center being built several blocks away from the 9/11 site to be disrespectful of those who suffered on 9/11, one must first believe that the Muslim community as a whole were somehow responsible for the 9/11 attacks. No one takes issue with the two churches that overlook the 9/11 site. Nor would there be any argument against the building of a Jewish community center. So the issue here is simply that there are enough people who have not managed to separate the Muslim community from the extremists who attacked us on September 11, 2001.

This is not an issue of sensitivity to loss and suffering. It is an issue of sensitivity to fear and doubt and a gross misunderstanding of what it means to be Muslim and what it means to be a terrorist. It is mired in misconception. There can be no insensitivity regarding this issue without religious inequality. They are simply inseparable. If they were not, no one would take offense. No, one has to believe that Muslims were somehow responsible for the attacks and that allowing the building of a Muslim community center near (not on, mind you) Ground Zero would somehow be an act of support for the attacks themselves.

It is not. The men who attacked us may have been Muslim (and that faith, like all others, has many different interpretations and sects), but the men and women building the community center did not fly planes into the World Trade Center Towers. No more than the Jewish population in Germany during the 30’s and 40’s was trying to destroy that country and its values. Or that all members of the NRA supported the Columbine massacre.

This needs to stop. Instead of taking out your anger on Muslims, look a bit deeper at the anger and loss created by the events of 9/11 and try to put them into a proper perspective that doesn’t instigate more hatred and misunderstanding. The men who attacked us on 9/11 did not understand who we were. As a nation. As a people. Let’s not make the same mistake they did.

In the meantime, go HERE to watch John Stewart once again put things clearly into perspective with his usual brand of dark, but often spot-on humor.

This Silly “Mosque” Business & John Stewart

Boo George Lucas. Again As Always.

My admiration for Mr. Lucas fizzled out many moons ago. His first three films were simply stunning. THX-1138, AMERICAN GRAFFITI and the very first STAR WARS. The man didn’t return to directing until he decided to single-handedly destroy the “franchise” he’d built in the late 70’s and early 80’s. The three STAR WARS prequels he helmed are among the worst films I’ve ever seen. Incompetently written, showcasing the largest collection of god-awful performances by some of our industry’s leading actors, and completely devoid of any heart, these films can only be loved by either very small children or geeks capable of extreme levels of blind devotion.

Anyone who knows me at all knows that my beef with Lucas has less to do with these abominations and more to do with the absolute rape he has committed to the original three films. While even at the time of its release RETURN OF THE JEDI started to reek of Mr. Lucas’ desire to make toys over films, it was still watchable and had some terrific moments. Of course much of the film and story’s darker edges were eliminated (see clip below), some in post and much as early as the script stage (goodbye Wookies, hello Ewoks). But despite the early signs of Mr. Lucas’ transition over to the “dark side,” I had never imagined at the time that the films I loved (warts and all) would one day be digitally manipulated to such a degree that they could barely be recognized as the same films. Even THX-1138 has been completely overhauled, and in so doing, thoroughly destroyed. AMERICAN GRAFFITI, luckily for us, had only one scene altered, leaving the bulk of the original movie-going experience intact. But STAR WARS and its early companion films can only be seen in their original, un-assaulted forms in crummy, non-anamorphic transfers on Standard DVD or laserdisc.

With the recent announcement that the STAR WARS films will finally be making their way to Blu-ray next year (sadly in a box set where one will be forced to buy the unwatchable prequels), Lucas has, again, denied the call of the films’ true fans and stated:

“You have to go through and do a whole restoration on it, and you have to do that digitally. It’s a very, very expensive process to do it. So when we did the transfer to digital, we only transferred really the upgraded version.”

In other words, the original versions will not be included.

And I dare say it will be a lifetime before they ever are. And, from what Lucas himself has stated in the past, there’s a good chance they never will be.

George Lucas may have started out as part of the new breed of filmmaker that emerged during the 70’s including Martin Scorsese, Francis Coppola, and Steven Speilberg (they were all friends and created a small but well-respected community around them), but his interests veered so far away from those ideals that he eventually became a marketing entity with no trace of filmmaker left to be found. And, sadly, those of us out here who still believe in something pure (like the Rebel Alliance itself), must suffer the consequences until someone steps in and makes things right. Perhaps after Lucas himself has left this world (and I am not urging that he do so any time soon), a lover of cinema and restoration will step up and return to the world that which was taken from us: an innocent and creative young man’s vision that touched millions and inspired almost as many.

One day, perhaps…

Here’s a scene cut from THE RETURN OF THE JEDI before its original release. It will be included as an extra on the new Blu-ray set. A set I will not be buying. It seems the scene was simply too dark. But one gets a sense of what the tone of this film could have been. Had Lucas not heard the whispers of the dark side…

Boo George Lucas. Again As Always.

Last Week For Harryhausen Exhibit At The Academy!

If you live in Los Angeles or plan on visiting sometime in the next week, the Ray Harryhausen exhibit over at the Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences will be there through August 22nd. That gives you just 7 days to make it over there if you haven’t already (or go again if you need to see it just one last time!).

If you’re a fan of Harryhausen’s work, this is a must-see. In addition to sketches and storyboards, film clips and original poster art, the Academy has put together the best ever collection of actual stop-motion models used in the films themselves. From Medusa to Humpty Dumpty to an army of fighting skeletons, this is a rare opportunity to see these complex figures up close and personal. And the best part is it’s completely free.

I highly, highly recommend it.

Click on images to see full size.

Last Week For Harryhausen Exhibit At The Academy!

Long Lost, Alfred Hitchcock Interview Returns

In the fall of 1973, Tom Snyder devoted a full hour of his then brand-spankin’ new THE TOMORRROW SHOW to an interview with legendary director Alfred Hitchcock. The show was then repeated on Memorial Day 1980. Since that time, the footage was thought to be lost or destroyed.

Well, it seems sometime last year, a copy was discovered from the Memorial Day repeat. According to the Youtube poster:

The VHS (SP) tape itself was found to be in excellent condition. While properly stored in a climate controlled environment it apparently had not been played in decades. Great care has been taken to make the digital transfer.

Regardless of the story behind this tape (I have yet to find any information to counter this story, but if I do, I’ll be sure to post it here!), the interview itself is fantastic. A rare and wonderful look into the mind behind decades worth of masterful filmmaking.

The interview is broken up into 6 parts, the first part of which you can watch below. The others I have linked for you.

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Long Lost, Alfred Hitchcock Interview Returns