Ron Paul-Obsessed GOP Official Co-Produced Pro-Suicide Bomber Film
Whenever I click on a news article that carries an incendiary headline, I absolutely hate it when the author leads off with an anecdote before getting to the meat of the story. I find it annoying, and a little disrespectful to the reader. Having now copped to being a hypocrite, I’m going to lead off this article with an anecdote (and an aside).
In early 2009, when the Tea Party movement was in its infancy, and people across the country were planning “Tax Day” Tea Party protests for April 15th, a Ron Paul supporter in San Mateo, CA, attempted to hijack the burgeoning movement by advertising a Tea Party event using blatantly anti-Semitic imagery.
Although the San Mateo incident was minor, Ron Nehring, then-Chairman of the California Republican Party, felt it was his duty to roundly denounce the Paul supporter’s actions:
The taxpayer movement is growing rapidly in response to government overspending and an increasing tax burden. Yet, as is often the case, some who espouse fringe views are attempting to use the taxpayer movement to promote their own cause. In this case, that fringe cause is anti-Semitism. To allow such actions to continue or succeed threatens the entire taxpayer movement by giving its opponents the opportunity to paint the whole movement as racist or extreme.
The leaders of the taxpayer movement in California are good, solid people with whom I’ve worked for years. Their work is incredibly important and should not be tainted by the anti-Semitic views of a few who wish to use the growing taxpayer movement for their own, fringe purposes. Such attempts must be roundly condemned across the board.
It was an important moment in what would become the national phenomenon known as the Tea Party. Paul supporters were put on notice that, while they were welcome to turn out and participate in Tea Party events like all other concerned Americans, they were not welcome to hijack the movement to advance their extremist views regarding Israel (and Jews in general). Racism and anti-Semitism were not welcome, period. That’s one of the things that separated the Tea Party from the “Occupy” movement, whose representatives couldn’t muster up the moral courage to call out the anti-Semites within the OWS ranks.
While Republicans often complain, not without justification, that their party has a tendency to “eat its own,” there is nothing wrong with calling out people who’s views are hard to swallow, and harder to stomach.
That was the anecdote; here’s the aside. I co-run a group called the Republican Party Animals (unless you’re reading this cut-and-pasted on some random message board, you can find out more about the RPA by clicking the banner at the top of this page). We are a “big tent” GOP group. We welcome all varieties of conservatives and libertarians. At our events, you’ll find conservative Christians partying it up with atheist libertarians, pro-lifers sitting with pro-choicers, people with differing opinions on gay marriage laws having a drink together, etc., etc. But as big as our tent is, there are some things that will not, and will never, fit inside. Communism and socialism? Take it outside. Advocacy of Islamic jihad or Sharia? Beat it. Anti-Semitism? Here’s your refund; I’ll show you the door.
Not that any of that has ever been a problem…yet.
Which brings me to the subject of this article – an L.A. County GOP official who is, indeed, also a member of the RPA Facebook group. And I’m writing about her for two reasons. First, if she were a Democrat party official, I’d write about her. So I’m not going to be a hypocrite and keep quiet because she’s GOP. But, more importantly, I think the GOP needs to confront the very real fact that certain devoted Ron Paul supporters (hereafter referred to as “Paulists,” for brevity’s sake) are bringing something very negative, and potentially damaging, to the party. The woman who is the subject of this piece not only openly espouses her views while advertising her Republican Party credentials, but she actively encourages her fellow-travelers to seek positions within the party as well.
Danielle “Dani” Rascon is a Central Committee member of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County (RPLAC), and the chair of its 61st Assembly District. Although she is a GOP official, she is a Paulist first and foremost (she was a precinct captain for the 2008 Paul presidential campaign). She doesn’t flinch from letting people know that if Paul bolts the GOP for a third-party run, she’ll follow.
Rascon first came to my attention when she posted a ridiculous pro-Iran propaganda video on her Facebook page.
This led to a dialogue between us – not a private exchange of emails, not something in confidence, but something that everyone could see.
I asked her why she would post such a video:
With all due respect, Dani, I’m not entirely sure what this video is supposed to mean. I could have put the same type of video together in 1940 about Nazi Germany. The Nazi devotion to aesthetics is legendary. I could have made a slideshow with images of beautiful parks, art galleries, symphonies, the majestic Black Forest, the stunning Ammersee, the beautiful cathedrals, and lots of happy, playful people.
In fact, I guess the only difference would have been that in the 1940 video of Germany, the women would not all be wearing compulsory hair coverings, as they are in this video.
So yes, I could have done a video like this in 1940, but so what? What would it have had to do with whether or not military action against Germany was justified? What would their parks or their forests or their ski slopes have mattered in that particular discussion?
David, I think the intent of this video is to give people an idea of what Iran looks like. The subject of Iran has become so oddly impersonal the more we discuss attacking them. Iran is not some 3rd world tribal nation like Afghanistan. It is a thriving, industrialized nation with splits within their political system much like ours has. Given, theirs is not as advanced as the U.S., but industrialized none the less.
I’m wondering if you have ever spoken with a woman who wears hijab? I have, and they wear it proudly. It is part of their culture, and denotes modesty. Look at the women’s faces in those photos. They are not some cave-living Neanderthals. They are wearing sporty sunglasses, make up, designer jeans, and Nikes. Hardly the idea of “repression” that most Americans would prefer we believe to help justify bombing the hell out of Iran.
I was rather put off by her defense of the hijab (as well as her suggestion that as long as you can wear “sporty sunglasses,” you’re not being “repressed”). I felt it was especially hypocritical coning from a “freedom loving” Paulist. Women in Iran are forced by the state to cover their hair in public. How can someone who supposedly supports freedom defend that?
“I’m wondering if you have ever spoken with a woman who wears hijab?” Actually, Dani, my cousin has an Iranian-Muslim father and a British-Jewish mom. When her mom died of cancer when she was a child, she went to live with her father in Iran, a year before the Ayatollah came to power, and she grew up knee-deep in the hell of “modesty police” patrols and abuse, before fleeing back to London, and, later, settling in Tel Aviv. So yeah, I HAVE spoken with someone who’s been forced to wear the hijab…in fact, we had a wonderful family Hanukkah together at my home.
And from there it got worse. Rascon wrote:
How is Iran’s requirement (that women wear a hijab) any different than Orthodox Judaism’s requirement that married women cover their head?
This just blew me away. To claim that there’s no difference between a theocratic dictatorship forcing women to cover their heads or face arrest and imprisonment, and individual people in a free country who make a choice to live a certain way, is insane. That claim of moral equivalence displays a desire to excuse the brutality of Muslim gender apartheid while beating up on Orthodox Jews for the way they choose to live.
I mean, isn’t the whole “Paul revolution” thing supposed to be about personal choice, free of government coercion?
And then the name-calling started. From Rascon:
This is the problem with you Zionists. You are willing to sacrifice the safety, well-being, livelihoods, futures, families, economy of over 300 million Americans to fight in wars that have nothing to do with us. And then you get rabid with those of us who stand up for the safety, security, and CONSTITUTION of AMERICANS.
WE’VE BEEN AT WAR FOR 10 YEARS. NO MORE. I support your right to volunteer your life, your fortune, and your honor to fight in others wars if you so choose. LEAVE ME AND MY FAMILY AND MY COUNTRY OUT OF IT.
As though it is somehow more her country than mine.
Regarding the fact that Iranian President Ahmadinejad openly said he wants to “wipe Israel off the map,” Rascon dismissed that claim as anti-Iran propaganda:
I have heard that propaganda quite a bit; that Ahmadinejad said he would wipe Israel off the map. There is quite a bit of contention about the translation and context of his statement. He was quoting the early Ayatollah and experts disagree that he meant it the way American media is portraying it. I am not convinced he said that.
She accused me of not doing anything positive for my “Zionist cause” by attacking her. She rationalized the taking of hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 by claiming it was “retaliation for our intervention in Iran’s affairs,” and she wondered why people like me were putting “Israel before America.”
One of her friends, a man named Todd, joined the thread, writing:
Iran seeks a nuclear weapon for safety and I don’t blame them when the only nation in the world to use a nuclear weapon on human beings is constantly threatening them and not only has their country surrounded but is also engaged in acts of war in the form of sanctions. If Israelis feel Iran is a threat to their security let THEM deal with, along with the consequences. If Zionists in American clothing feel so strongly let them go and fight for Israel instead of trying to drag those of us who put America first into their quarrels.
Rascon “liked” the comment, and added, “Todd, thank you for making several reasonable, logical, and pro-America points.”
At this point, I was, to put it lightly, stunned that Dani Rascon is an L.A. County GOP official, considering the fact that this county has the largest U.S. Jewish population outside of New York, and the largest concentration of Iranian expatriates, many of whom are Jewish, and many of whom are staunchly opposed to the theocratic dictatorship in their native country. How could this help the party?
But, as I said, it gets worse. On her Facebook page, Rascon encourages her friend to join her on the GOP Central Committee. She posts the official GOP nomination filing form, along with instructions, telling her fellow Paulists, “If you think the Party has stopped representing you, don’t complain about it, BE THE CHANGE you want to see in the world.”
And just two posts below that is an out-and-out neo-Nazi propaganda video (posted by her strikingly anti-Semitic Paulist friend Don Burgess), which claims that “the Jews” are an “occupying force” in the U.S. who use non-Jews as “subhuman cattle” to “serve the Jews.” The video encourages people to “refuse to submit to the Jews” (here’s the link; the really putrid stuff begins at the hour-twenty mark).
Granted, this was posted to her page by a friend. But no one has to keep something on their Facebook page if they don’t want to. No self-respecting GOP Central Committee member would want official GOP files and forms, and an invitation to run for party positions, located right above a neo-Nazi video.
Rascon’s Youtube channel contains playlists featuring over twenty hard-core anti-Israel videos (along with dozens of 9/11 “truther” videos, anti-vaccination videos, and pro-“chemtrail conspiracy” videos). One video is titled “Jewish Hatred for Gentiles.” Another is titled “Shocking: Israelis Enjoy Watching Gaza Slaughter.” Still another is described as detailing “the terror of the Israelis.”
Of course, liking other people’s videos is one thing. But Dani Rascon actually co-produced a film glorifying a Palestinian suicide bomber.
I’ll give my L.A. County GOP friends a moment to pick themselves up from the floor.
“Rabia” is a 2007 film that glorifies the life of Wafa Idris, the first female suicide/homicide bomber to target Israel. On January 27, 2002, Idris, 28 years old, detonated her bomb in a crowded downtown Jerusalem shopping district, killing one Israeli and injuring over one-hundred innocent people. Idris, whose eldest brother was a leader of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah faction, “was out to kill as many Israeli civilians as she could, in one of the most devastating attacks by a Palestinian woman,” wrote The New York Times.
There was, of course, no question regarding the motive for the attack. She had been an active participant in the First Intifada. According to her sister-in-law, whenever Idris would see pictures of a suicide attack, she would say, “I wish I did that.” After the bombing, Idris’ mother, brother, and family spokesperson all had the same message: “She did it out of nationalistic motives, nothing else.” ”We’re proud of it,” her mother told The Times regarding the bombing. ”I wish every man, every woman would do the same, be a bomber.”
Lest there be any question regarding the intent and viewpoint of the film that Dani Rascon co-produced, here is a statement from the film’s writer/director, Muhammad Miguel Ali Hasan (himself a colorful character, but I don’t want to get off-topic), prominently displayed on the film’s official website. After noting that he is “against terrorism,” Hasan goes on to say, of Wafa Idris, “I am proud to tell her story. I am proud to tell it because Wafa Idris refused to be a victim. Resisting victimhood and fighting for redemption is a universal theme that we all relate to.”
So, the woman who created hundreds of victims is to be admired for “resisting victimhood.”
The production notes for the film, also published on the official site, contain absolutely no ambiguity regarding the film’s intentions:
The audience should feel sympathy for Rabia (the name given to Idris’ character in the film), knowing that she really had to give something special up, in order to complete this mission – that the mission wasn’t simply done out of a sense of hopelessness.
Also from the film’s website, this quote from Hasan about his opinion of Wafa Idris:
I was impressed by her proactivity; most women in her situation would accept defeat and live lives of oppression. She decided to do something different with her life. With all of that in mind, Idris provided me with the story I would need to communicate the theme that I most desired- the story of an anti-hero that we could support. For me, Rabia is a hero because she did not succumb (sic) to the pain within her life; instead she strove to do something that would change her community for the better, in her mind. . . . I admire her proactivity.
From the film’s promotional materials:
By the time she steps onto a popular Israeli beach, awaiting to kill hundreds of innocent civilians in a massive explosion, we find ourselves asking whether Rabia’s act is one of evil or one of heroism.
The slaughter of hundreds of innocent Jews…an act of heroism?
This is a film produced with the clear goal of glorifying the “hero” Wafa Idris. And it’s actually quite well-made (from a technical perspective). It sells its message well.
What is especially vile about this film is that the filmmakers removed any anti-Israel motivation from the character. Their version of Idris is motivated by the inner pain caused by an uncaring lover, an abusive husband, and an inability to conceive children – even though all of Idris’ relatives have repeatedly pointed to her “nationalism” as the singular reason for her act. The makers of “Rabia” did the impossible (perhaps I should say, the unthinkable): they removed hatred of Israel from the motivations of a Palestinian suicide bomber.
Worse still, in true revisionist form, they changed the ending. Whereas in real-life, Idris “was out to kill as many Israeli civilians as she could,” in the movie, she decides, at the last minute, to walk away from a populated area and blow herself up, all alone, on an isolated strip of beach. A real humanitarian! The problem, of course, is that it’s not true. The filmmakers produced an incredible historical whitewash of a brutal act of anti-Jewish murder, by making an outright propaganda film in which Wafa Idris, real-life murderer of Jews, is now a victim, with no ill motives, who, in the end, sacrifices herself to save Jews.
That Dani Rascon would co-produce such a film is not surprising, given the views she expressed to me.
I might not have written this piece if not for Rascon’s attempts to flood the RPLAC Central Committee with like-minded friends. Paulists are, at the moment, very energized, and, at every moment, staunchly dedicated to spreading their idol’s message far and wide. And I sincerely believe that the GOP, much like my own Republican Party Animals group, has all the room in the world for Ron Paul supporters who, as I do, want to dramatically reduce the size of the federal government, lessen its interference in our daily lives, lower taxes, and hold all politicians’ feet to the fire regarding their duty to uphold the Constitution.
But I don’t think it’s inappropriate to raise a red flag about a cancer within the ranks of Paul supporters – the “chemtrailers,” the anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists, the 9/11 truthers, and, most importantly, those who harbor views regarding Jews and Israel that are not only repugnant, but go against core Republican Party values. Let the Democrats remain the home of that type of pathology. It should not be welcome in the GOP.
I’ll close with a slight re-wording of the quote I cited earlier, from former California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring: The leaders of the GOP in California are good, solid people with whom I’ve worked for years. Their work is incredibly important and should not be tainted by the anti-Semitic views of a few who wish to use the party for their own, fringe purposes. Such attempts must be roundly condemned across the board.