PBS Doc 'A Town In Victoria' Blames Mosque Arson by Latino on 'White Supremacy,' GOP

November 26th, 2023 10:39 PM

The latest PBS Independent Lens film program, “A Town Called Victoria,” was a three-hour report on the January 2017 firebombing of the Victoria Islamic Center mosque in the small town of Victoria, Texas. Predictably, there was a deeper left-wing political message within this documentary, part of the “Exploring Hate” series by NYC-based public television station WNET.

(To give a sample of the tax-funded series’ ideological flavor, an upcoming documentary promises to uncover “Racist Trees.”)

An overview of the documentary by the Los Angeles Times’ Maira Garcia hit the liberal talking points:

This idyllic town was forever altered when it became the center of national attention on Jan. 28, 2017, after a fire broke out at a mosque -- the only one for about 100 miles around. The Victoria Islamic Center was founded in 1984, and the blackened frame was what remained, its interior turned to ash. The fire came hours after then-President Trump signed an executive order banning the entry of people from seven majority-Muslim countries to the U.S.

The timing of the fire turned out to be no coincidence. Investigators determined it was arson, and Marq Vincent Perez, a Victoria resident who was 24 at the time, was charged with setting the blaze, which federal authorities deemed a hate crime….It also provides historical context about the racism and xenophobia that permeates the region to this day. The documentary follows the leaders of the mosque -- Abe Ajrami, Omar Rachid, and founder Dr. Shahid Hashmi….

Documentary director Li Lu tried the usual film-making moves, opening with an audio montage of former presidents mentioning Islam (like President G.W. Bush after 9-11). But she snuck in partisan and ideological jabs with her source seelction, going beyond the awful crime itself to score political points against President Trump or Republicans in general -- blaming Trump’s temporary ban on travel from seven majority-Muslim countries for the arson attack.

A few of the ideologically biased moments from this long documentary:

Omar Rachid, mosque member: It was no coincidence that the perpetrator solidified his hate for Muslims on the night of [Trump’s] travel ban.

Local reporter Cassie Cameron made an odd comment to justify how an arson attack by a Latino was actually an example of white supremacy in action.

Cameron: That's what made it completely unsurprising to me. As soon as they said ‘Marq Perez,’ I said, of course it is. Because there is no one who has more racism in themselves than like, someone who's been oppressed more than the highest tier. And the closer you get to white, the more people you have to hate.

Li Lu didn’t just choose left-wing talking heads, but twisted Republican Sen. Ted Cruz into her “white supremacist” smear. After a clip of Rachid failing to convince community member Dale Zuck about the wisdom of gun control, Lu flashed to Zuck attending a local Cruz rally.

Dale Zuck: We're here for Senator Ted Cruz. He's here in Victoria! Ted is a true conservative, true Texan, and we're looking forward to hearing from him!

The documentary then portrayed Cruz talking about victory over the Islamic terrorist group ISIS, as somehow sinister, perhaps an example of GOP Islamophobia. After scenes of the crowd shouting “Ted Cruz! Ted Cruz! Ted Cruz!” the documentary segued right to the bail hearing for Perez.

Following a montage of statues of Confederate soldiers, local former Baptist minister Allen Coffey is seen saying: “White supremacy is not confined to the South. It never has been. But it has a much tighter hold on the South.” Next on screen: A digital church billboard that read “Praying for President Trump.” Subtle!

Even though this particular example of “white supremacy” came from a Latino man, PBS stuck to the narrative.

Coffey: There are a lot of folks who are white supremacists, they just don't realize it.

Lu was much nicer to Democrats, like Sen. Cruz’s failed 2018 Democratic opponent Beto O’Rourke. Documentary star Omar Rachid introduced O’Rourke at a local rally.

Rachid: When asked if I would introduce Beto, I said, are you kidding me? I mean this is like a dream come true! And it gives me the microphone! Beto O'Rourke!

Rachid took Beto’s eventual loss hard, and petulantly blamed the anti-Muslim atmosphere among his neighbors before leaving town for good. Apparently not voting for a liberal Democrat with who's served just three terms in Congress makes one automatically anti-Muslim. (And Beto went on to lose a presidential bid, and a gubernatorial bid.) 

Rachid: We were looking forward to Beto’s victory. But I was disappointed to find out that we actually have a lot more regressive voters, supporting candidates spewing ugliness towards Muslims. People are much more loyal to their political leanings than their friendships.

There were some eyebrow-raising groups named on the documentary’s “Resources” webpage, which linked to 2017 reports from the notorious, Hamas-linked Islamic pressure group CAIR and the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center.

So will there be a future expose “Exploring” the anti-Semitic hate of those marching the streets after Hamas’s terrorist assault on Israel? Don’t count on it.