Denver, Boulder, and Grand Junction Monthly Meetings: “Reel Bad Arabs” and “Attack of the Drones,” March 2013

Please join us for this month’s educational meeting featuring the screening of two films.

Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People (50 minutes)

This groundbreaking documentary dissects a slanderous aspect of cinematic history that has run virtually unchallenged from the earliest days of silent film to today’s biggest Hollywood blockbusters. Featuring acclaimed author Dr. Jack Shaheen, the film explores a long line of degrading images of Arabs –– from Bedouin bandits and submissive maidens to sinister sheikhs and gun-wielding “terrorists” –– along the way offering insights into the origin of these stereotypical images, their development at key points in U.S. history, and why they matter so much today. Dr. Shaheen shows how the persistence of these images over time has served to desensitize and “naturalize” prejudicial attitudes toward Arabs and Arab culture.

Shaheen inspires critical thinking about the consequences of these Hollywood caricatures, and he challenges viewers to recognize the urgent need for counter-narratives that do justice to the diversity and humanity of Arab people and the reality and richness of Arab history and culture. He reveals that a number of these films have been made with the cooperation of the Department of Defense.  (The recent Hollywood film “Zero Dark Thirty” is a prime example of the use of theatrical films to further instill fictitious official narratives into the minds of the American public.)

Most of us in modern America understand that stereotypes are morally wrong and simply not truthful, but stereotypes take a long time to wither away. Often we find them comfortable, and we resist adjusting our perceptions of a people who have been maligned. We (and Hollywood) have, nonetheless, corrected our stereotype of Jews, Afro-Americans, and Native Americans, among others.Our hats are off to Dr. Jack Shaheen who continues this consciousness-raising American tradition. In the last segment of this documentary Shaheen talks about several recent films that begin to break down the stereotypes. He ends with an expression of hope in young, creative filmmakers who are moving beyond the stereotypical and bigoted depictions from Hollywood.

“Washington and Hollywood spring from the same DNA.”  –  Jack Valenti, Former President and CEO of Motion Picture Association of America

 Attack of the Drones  (a 24-minute Al Jazeera report) [Read more…]

Denver, Boulder, and Grand Junction Monthly Meetings: “Unconstitutional” Plus a Talk by Kevin Danaher

The USA Patriot Act was passed by Congress immediately following 9/11.

Unconstitutional: The War On Our Civil Liberties (68 minutes), another excellent film by Robert Greenwald, is an inside look at this controversial bill through the eyes of legal analysts and constitutional experts as they examine the dangers the Patriot Act poses to our civil liberties, individual freedoms, and our U.S. Constitution.

The film follows the passage of the controversial legislation through Congress, the effect it has on all Americans, especially Arabs and Muslims in the U.S., and it addresses the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.  The film also reveals the effects of the Patriot Act on both Americans and immigrants, such as Aquil Abdullah, a 2004 U.S. Olympic rower who happens to be Catholic, who turned up on no-fly lists simply because of his name; Sam Hamoui, a storekeeper, and his family, living in Seattle, who were detained by federal agents; A.J. Brown, a North Carolina college student visited by agents investigating her alleged “un-American” activities; and librarians and store owners who were pressured to release their customer records, all in the name of “Homeland Security.” [Read more…]

Denver, Boulder, and Grand Junction Monthly Meetings: Docudrama “Operation Terror” January 2013


Documentaries are not the only medium through which people have their worldviews successfully challenged. Some of us are more affected by storytelling. Good fiction, music and lyrics, poetry, and fairy tales can often pierce the depths of the psyche where facts and rational analysis fail.

For this reason, this month we are pleased to air the docudrama Operation Terror, written and produced by filmmaker Art Olivier,  a former mayor of Bellflower, CA.  This film tells a story, and does it well considering its low budget and that it was written and produced by a first-time filmmaker.

But don’t hold your breath for this film to reach the theaters. Although it is well-produced, each time Olivier’s staff revealed its content, the theaters suddenly lost interest. [Read more…]