The strong, sometimes violent reaction to the film, Innocence of Muslims continues. Thankfully there aren't any new reports of violence as of this writing, but Brazil is blocking the film. Turkey is set to block it. Iran is boycotting the Academy Awards because of the slur to Mohammed that the film represents. It's still shocking and upsetting that people have died and been injured because of this hateful piece of offensively bad filmmaking.
When bad news hits, I always look to what I can do, what action I can take. So I've compiled a list of five things we can do as a considered response to Innocence of Muslims and the violence that has ensued.
1. Go see The Iran Job. The Iran Job is a documentary film that tells the story of American basketball player Kevin Sheppard as he travels to Iran to play for the Iranian Super League. The film is as much a cultural dialogue as it is a basketball story. Kevin breaks through his preconceived notions about the Iranian people, leads his team to the playoffs and witnesses the Green Movement unfold in Iran. He becomes friends with three single women. The time they spend together is risky for the women. We are lucky they took the risk because the conversation between Kevin and these women really brings depth to the film. On the court, we see the pressure Kevin's under to lead a young team. Off the court, Kevin's open nature, sense of humor and natural curiosity help him navigate while he's in Iran. He spoke with me about how the time he spent in Iran changed him. He came back home and started a league for underprivileged boys called Choices Basketball Association. He's "pushing very hard to make a difference in his community."
Filmmakers Till Schauder and Sara Nodjoumi have created a film that's also entertaining and engaging. Till and Kevin both talked about traveling the hero's journey through sports and how athletes can break down stigmas and perceptions that have built up. Kevin shared about the difference in the two cultures in sports.
"In our culture, there's one thing and one thing only and that's winning. If you lose by 50 or if you lose by one, it doesn't matter. Once I got over there, I realized they thought it's okay to play hard and good and lose. So we were clashing hard there. I thought that I have to learn from them obviously to see why they think this way. But then I have to show the way I think, the way I play and inspire them. Which we did during the regular season and overcome a lot of obstacles."
The Iran Job opens in Los Angeles on September 28th and in New York on October 12th. So forget that other film. This is the movie to see. And you can help bring The Iran Job to other cities (and countries!) by joining their Kickstarter campaign.
2. Sign up with Abby Disney and Peace is Loud: Abby Disney recently posted a response to the tragedy in Libya on BlogHer. Here's an excerpt:
"In the wake of tragedy in Libya, Abigail Disney and Michael Angelo of Wonderland Beauty Parlor were inspired by the outpouring of signs, videos and articles with messages of peace from Libyans and others across the Middle East. Together with Peace is Loud, they have responded with a #SignofLove, an American message of respect and peace."
Go to the Peace Is Loud Facebook page, download the sign, snap your photo and share it with the world. Spread the word, spread the love!
3. Donate to Doctors Without Borders: Doctors Without Borders has responded to the recent violence in the Middle East by providing care to those wounded in protests. They warn of a potential shortage of medical supplies in some of these countries. They are also working with local medical professionals and setting up training sessions on how to care for large numbers of wounded at once.
Doctors Without Borders operates in more than 60 countries providing medical care. They respond to situations of malnutrition, armed conflict, natural disaster, epidemics and more. Their mission statement emphasizes medical ethics and impartiality. With 86% of every donation going directly into program services, they are a stellar organization, Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization.
To learn more about their work and make a donation, click here.
4. Don't watch Innocence of Muslims on YouTube: Fewer views=Less Media Attention=Less Violence.
5. Listen to your president: When President Obama addressed the United Nations earlier this week, he said that "the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression; it is more speech -- the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect."
Freedom of speech may not be the goal of every country. We certainly do struggle with it here. But let's not give in to hate speech and stop talking. Let's have conversations over the dinner table, through social media, in classrooms, at work. Read the news and keep the conversation going.
And feel free to add your suggestions in the comments section...