Accuracy in Media

In real life, we have read numerous stories about Al Qaeda terrorists seeking possession of a so-called dirty nuclear bomb they can use to kill thousands of Americans. There have even been reports that such a bomb has been smuggled into the U.S. But a new Hollywood film, “The Sum of All Fears,” about the use of a nuclear weapon against the U.S., pretends that neo-Nazis are the real enemies.

Hollywood can do what it wants, but in this case the film is supposed to be based on a Tom Clancy book that depicted the villains as Arab terrorists. Clancy never portrayed the nuclear terrorists as neo-Nazis. The villains have been changed. In the film, neo-Nazi terrorists get their hands on a lost nuclear device, and plan to use it at the Super Bowl. The plan is to disguise the attack as being caused by Russia, in the hopes of rekindling the Cold War.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has claimed responsibility for the change, saying it had been in contact with Paramount Pictures and Mace Neufeld, the film’s original director, to discuss the portrayal of Muslim characters in the film. Phil Alden Robinson, the new director of the film, assured the Council that Muslims would not be depicted as terrorists, unlike the novel. Robinson said that he had “no intention of promoting negative images of Muslims or Arabs.”

The Council’s board Chairman Omar Ahmad said he was pleased by Robinson’s decision not to include negative characterizations of Muslims in his film. Ahmad said that he hoped Robinson’s actions should “set a precedent” for others in the film industry. Tom Clancy was quoted in one report as saying that there was an intention at one point to change the original villains in the novel to right-wing militia characters for the movie. Producers of the film then made the villains Neo-Nazis.

In 1998, the Council on American Islamic Relations led a campaign against the 20th Century Fox film “The Siege. The film was set in Brooklyn, New York, and involved a series of terrorist bombings by Muslims that prompted the American military to declare martial law and carry out a mass arrest of American Muslims and Arab-Americans. The Council said this film included negative stereotypes of Muslims. Perhaps. But the fact is that on September 11th, 2001, Muslim terrorists staged attacks on buildings in New York and the Washington, D.C. area, killing nearly 3000 people, and leading to the arrests of hundreds of Muslims and Arab-Americans.

One movie review Web site tries to justify the alteration of the book, The Sum of All Fears, saying that the Muslim terrorists of the novel have been “modernized” for the film: “The reason is, that prior to September 11th, there was a move away from portraying Muslims as stock terrorist villains, partly because of consistent (and understandable) protests by Arab-American groups. But now, after 9/11, Islamic terrorists don’t seem quite so ‘worn out’ as villains… so this movie, in a way, is sort of a time capsule of our former innocence.” No, it’s a symptom of political correctness and the refusal to accept truth and reality.

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