I attended an extremely disturbing event Thursday night. It was hosted by WETA, the PBS station in Washington DC, and was part of the national launch of an 11-part PBS series, “America at a Crossroads,” to begin airing April 15. It featured clips from the series followed by a panel discussion with some of those involved in the films, moderated by Robert MacNeil. The panel discussion represented a “wide” spectrum of opinions: all the way from, at one end, suggesting that all Muslims are terrorists to, at the other end, suggesting that some Muslims are not terrorists.

In other words, from what we were shown on Friday, it appears that much of the series contains subtle, intellectually “acceptable” Muslim-bashing. While the title of the series claims that it is focusing on America, many of the clips seemed to be focusing, over and over again, on Islam, largely examining “bad Muslims” (the majority) with a few “good Muslims” thrown in (often consisting of those who bash bad Muslims).

One entire program in the series, funded with federal money dispensed by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), is dedicated to Richard Perle, the neoconservative strategist who pushed for “regime-change” in Iraq and is now promoting it once more in Iran. While his opponents are also included in the segment, Perle is given the opportunity to rebut each one; the film was produced by his associate Brian Lapping. The title of the program, “The Case for War: In Defense of Freedom,” seems to indicate a perspective that few facts would support. While only short clips were shown on Friday, Perle’s approving, and welcomed, presence at the screening seems to indicate a happy CPB-PBS-Perle relationship. Happy for Perle that is; not for those of us who are less than pleased at manipulations that destroyed hundreds of thousands of lives, at least, and whose agenda appears to be an Israeli American empire based on a mutilating sword, and whose deathly swath cuts many ways.

At the other end of Friday night’s “A” through “C” gamut of views was Michael Isikoff, whose rebuttal of Perle’s claims about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction was deservedly applauded by the audience. Isikoff’s own clip portrayed him as a crusading investigative reporter, a la Dustin Hoffman in “All the President’s Men.” However, it turned out that Isikoff’s form of crusading reporting was not to uncover presidential malfeasance but to expose “dangerous Muslims,” i.e. those who oppose tyrannical regimes or who dare to suggest that Hamas and Hezbollah are resistance movements opposing brutal Israeli aggression.


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