A Film PBS Wants Unaired

Article excerpt

Byline: Frank J. Gaffney Jr., THE WASHINGTON TIMES

For decades, conservatives have been among the taxpayers whose money has been made available in immense quantities to underwrite public broadcasting. Over the years, they have justifiably considerably resented that very little of that funding by some estimates as much as $2.5 billion yearly has been expended on projects that warrant their support.

In fact, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and its flagship stations (including Washington's WETA) have frequently allowed use of the public airwaves to promote various agendas with which as much as half the population strongly disagreed. These have included many hourlong documentaries and other programs featuring vitriolic critiques of our government and its leaders, disparaging portrayals of our country's policies and values and flattering portrayals, if not effusive endorsements, of those who share such sentiments.

To its credit, the leadership of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) launched an initiative several years ago to diversify the sources of documentary films in hopes of bringing different perspectives to the PBS audience about some of the most critical issues of our time. Thus was born the $20 million "America at a Crossroads" series which will begin airing on the PBS network in 11 prime-time segments starting Sunday night.

Unfortunately, the original vision of the CPB sponsors of the "Crossroads" series suffered at the hands of PBS and WETA when the project was turned over last year to those organizations to execute. To be sure, a few films about or by people perceived to be "conservatives" were among the 20 selected out of 440 proposals originally submitted as part of a rigorous competition. These included, notably ones featuring former Defense Department official Richard Perle and an outspoken critic of Islamofascism, Irshad Manji.

The rest are mostly from the usual suspects "Frontline," the New York Times (which recently published a very friendly review of the series) and various PBS-related organizations. Among these is a film about Muslims in America by MacNeil-Lehrer Productions, in which the host of "Crossroads," Robert MacNeil, is a partner. Interestingly, Mr. MacNeil's film was not in the original competition; it was added on by PBS and WETA and assigned one of the 11 prized slots in the initial line-up.

As it happens, I was involved in making a film for the "America at a Crossroads" series that also focused on, among others, several American Muslims. Unlike Mr. MacNeil's, however, this 52-minute documentary titled "Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center," was selected through the competitive process and was originally designated by CPB to be aired in the first Crossroads increment.

Also unlike Mr. MacNeil's film, "Islam vs. Islamists" focuses on the courageous Muslims in the United States, Canada and Western Europe who are challenging the power structure established in virtually every democracy largely with Saudi money to advance worldwide the insidious ideology known as Islamofascism. …