If you're in the business of propaganda the trick is to highlight all the data that supports your point of view while ignoring or dismissing evidence to the contrary. The idea isn't to explain or even be right. The idea is to win. Mainstream conservatives and liberals alike agree on the facts, they just disagree on the interpretation. AM talk radio, on the other hand, is home to the lunatic fringe of the right wing. Truth is secondary to broadcasting a handful of talking points.
When it comes to vilifying Islam there’s no harder-working hate monger than Craig Winn. In Winn's opinion the War on Terror is actually a war between Western civilization and the Muslim world. He believes this despite the fact that America is fighting almost alone against the wishes of the vast majority of Western nations and all but a handful Muslims are nonviolent and just want to be left in peace. Winn claims to be an expert on Islam though his conclusions are at odds with all legitimate scholars. Here's what he says about the Qur'an: "every page reveals behavior that is immoral, criminal, and violent," and Muhammad: "he was a thief, liar, assassin, mass murderer, terrorist, warmonger, and an unrestrained sexual pervert engaged in pedophilia, incest, and rape." Any fair-minded person would recognize Winn for what he is but local radio hosts Russ and Dee Fine have introduced him on their show a number of times as one of the leading experts on Islam. It's as though they believe their listeners are wholly ignorant of the facts and incapable reading up on the subject.
Islamic studies departments in universities around the country aren’t scrambling to get Winn on their faculties. Only the most ignorant or brainwashed fanatics would agree with his conclusions. This brings us back to Russ and Dee. It would be easy to feature a valid expert on Islam, like Karen Armstrong, or simply peruse through a few books at the library published by reputable companies. It would also be easy to read the Qur'an for oneself. But if you did any of these things you would discover that Winn is on a hate-filled mission to slander one of the world’s great religions. But the Fines aren't interested in information; their goal is propaganda. It's possible that they and their listeners are so blinded by hate that they can't see through the thinly veiled lies of a charlatan like Winn. The only other conclusion is that they are so misinformed or ignorant that they actually believe what even the briefest research would reveal to be erroneous. One can believe that Islam and the Qur'an share the characteristics of other religions and holy books or one can, like Winn, believe that Muslims are evil for evil sake. He also believes that Allah is actually Satan. What does it say about Russ and Dee that this guy would be their celebrated expert on Islam?
Populists used to galvanize their base by attacking fat cats and the powerful elites in Washington. Today they vilify and dehumanize minority groups. Birmingham has a small but growing Muslim population, some of which are in the armed forces and fighting in Iraq. I'm sure they would find it surprising that they are being accused of worshiping Satan by an "expert" on the Russ and Dee show. The Fine's own religious beliefs are a bit nebulous. As new-age Jews they embrace fundamentalist Christians, like Winn, who believe that anyone who doesn’t worship Christ will burn in Hell for all eternity.
Of course there are violent Islamic extremists who malign Christians, Jews and the secular nations of the West. They cherry pick holy texts to justify atrocities. This is exactly what Winn and the Fines are doing. If you close your mind and only believe bad things about your perceived enemy and shun all self-criticism it's easy to commit carnage with a clear conscience. A supernatural justification will allow you to be as irrational as necessary.
Craig Winn's book is available free online at:
It can also
be purchased at Amazon.com where the editors state, "Rather
than educate readers about the Islamic faith, the book's sole purpose
seems to be to shock and inflame readers."
A point-by-point rebuttal can be found at: