Anti-Muslim Film Shown to 1,500 Police Officers, Far More Than NYPD Claimed
In another example of the chickens coming home to roost, the NYPD has had to reveal that almost 1,500 police officers were shown a controversial film which the Voice described a year ago--in first breaking the story--as a "spectacularly offensive smear of American Muslims."
Back in late 2010, this reporter asked NYPD spokesman Paul Browne whether the film had been shown as part of a mandatory anti-terror refresher course. Browne flat out denied it had ever been shown to police officers.
When then-Voice columnist Tom Robbins subsequently asked Browne the same question, the spokesman declared it was "shown only a couple of times when officers were filling out paperwork before the actual coursework began."
Well, the Brennan Center of Justice obtained NYPD records--it took a year, natch--which show at least 1,489 officers, including 68 lieutenants and 159 sergeants saw the film. In addition, the film was shown over and over for between three months and a year, according to a New York Times story in today's paper.
Robbins' column, a Voice cover story, described the film as "72 minutes of gruesome footage of bombing carnage, frenzied crowds, burning American flags, flaming churches and seething mullahs." "This is the final drive in a 1,400-year-old bid for Muslim world domination, we're informed," Robbins wrote.
"The message here is that lurking behind those veils and prayer caps is a secret plan to impose a religious order out of the Dark Ages here in the U.S.," Robbins wrote. "The favorite image in The Third Jihad--shown over and over--is an enormous black-and-white Islamic flag flying over the White House."
In addition to conservative talk show host Glenn Beck, former Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge, Rudy Giuliani, and former CIA director James Woolsey, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly himself is seen being interviewed in the movie, declaring concerns about a "dirty bomb" being detonated in the city.
NYPD spokesman Browne told Robbins a year ago that the Kelly interview was "scraped from another source," though a film promo says Kelly was interviewed by the producers. The Times article notes, however, that Kelly has not asked the film's producers to "clarify that he had not cooperated with them."
Robbins reported that the film was produced by the Clarion Fund, which also produced a previous film called Obsession, which had a similar anti-Islam sentiment.
So, only two explanations are possible for Browne's initially misleading statements. Either, the NYPD was so concerned about bad press that it tried to limit the damage by using the old "deny, deny, deny" tactic. Or, Browne himself was misled by one of his own people, who gave him wrong information.
We asked Browne for an explanation of this contradiction, but he has yet to reply.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.