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Roger Ebert and Terrorism: An Exchange By: Roger Ebert and Debbie Schlussel
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, March 30, 2005


In response to Debbie Schlussel's column "Roger Ebert Gives Thumbs-Up to Terrorism" in yesterday's issue of FrontPage Magazine, film critic Roger Ebert sent her an e-mail and asked that we post it on our site.* We have complied with his wishes and posted her rejoinder beneath it. -- The Editors.

Dear Ms. Schlussel,
 
Update your database. I have lost 100 pounds.

As you know, because I made it clear in the letter you refer to, Ibrahim's offer to come to my house to cook for me came during a period when I was recovering from radiation treatment. By suppressing the context, you make it seem as if I support him because I am a glutton.

Of course I do not support terrorism, as you know perfectly well. I support Ibrahim, who was granted asylum in this country at a time when the Kurds were considered to be U.S. allies.

From the New York Times article on the case: "...one of his closest friends, Martin Dzuris, who had fled Communist Czechoslovakia and who is now a loyal George W. Bush supporter, built a Web site and organized a letter-writing campaign to politicians."
 
He is a true conservative in that he opposes unnecessary government intervention in the private lives of citizens.

Since you are personally aware of the nuances of the case, as a fellow journalist I doubt you are proud of the headline "Roger Ebert Gives Thumbs-Up to Terrorism." Surely there is a way to make your argument without playing dirty?
 
Sincerely,
 
Roger Ebert
 
P.S. I submitted this letter to the "Comments" section of Frontpagemag.com, and it was rejected because "we have new standards in place that prevent the use of vulgarity and profane terms." What's with that? If you have a sense of fair play, you will be sure to see that the letter is posted on the site.

*

Dear Roger Ebert, "R. Hyde," "Reinhold Timme," or whatever name or pseudonym you are using these days:

 

I was sorry to learn that you were ill, and am sincerely glad to hear that you are in remission.

Regardless, your illness and weight are not the issue.  I did not once mention your weight or illness in my column.  They are irrelevant.  Instead, I mentioned your penchant for food, which appears-- from your letter to the U.S. Government--to be the sole reason you know this man, Ibrahim Parlak, and want him to be allowed to stay here.  In your 16 line letter (as it appears on Parlak's website), I counted at least 7 references (almost one every 2 lines) to Ibrahim Parlak's "restaurant," restaurant "business," your status as a 10-year "regular patron" of the restaurant, his offer to prepare "special foods" for you, etc.  I could have quoted all of those things to give it even more "context" (which you claim is lacking, but isn't), but in the interest of space, I chose only one of those many references.

And therein lies the issue.  You are vouching for this murderer and terrorist because he makes food you like to eat and you like his restaurant.  But that does not mean he is not a terrorist or a man held responsible in the murder of two people, and did not lie about it to get into this country and remain here.  As you are well aware, Parlak is and did all of these things, of which he is accused.  In fact, his food preparation skills and restaurateur status have nothing to do with the price of tea in China, as the trite old saying goes. 

I am sure Osama Bin Laden could make a mean falafel and a fabulous fattoosh if he had to, but that would not be an excuse to fail to bring him to justice.  I'm not saying this man is on that level.  He isn't.  But he's a terrorist and a murderer, who trained in terror training camps, and that's enough.  And many in his shoes can make Middle Eastern food.  In fact, several men arrested on terror charges and/or deported from the U.S. have owned, operated, and/or worked at Middle Eastern restaurants.  The ability to make Baba Ghanoush is not a litmus test on whether one is a terrorist or a murderer.

You claim that because PKK was not always classified as a terrorist group, as it was not so classified when Parlak came into this country, that Parlak should not be penalized.  However, the same can be said of the groups Hezbollah, HAMAS, Islamic Jihad, and, yes, even Al-Qaeda.  Yet, we regularly--thankfully--deport those who have been involved with these groups on a regular basis, even if they came here when, unfortunately, our country did not take terrorism seriously enough, and the groups were not labeled as terrorist groups.  The State Dept. terrorist list only dates back to 1995 or 1996, when President Clinton signed a law mandating it and making it illegal to be involved with those groups.  While, as you state, the Kurds were considered to be allies, the PKK was hardly considered to be so.  It has ties to Al Qaeda and a host of other groups who hate us and want to eliminate us.

Regardless, it was ALWAYS illegal to lie on immigration and other forms.  And it was ALWAYS the policy not to let a man held responsible for the murders of two men (who served jail time for it) into this country.  Yet, your culinary pal, Mr. Parlak, lied not once, but FIVE times on FIVE separate government documents/applications -- all of which are enumerated in my column, a fact which you continue to choose to ignore.  It is a fact which is important, because, as you and I both know, had your chef, Mr. Parlak, been truthful even once regarding his conviction, he would NEVER have been allowed to stay here in the first place.  He was granted asylum, only because he lied and continued to lie thereafter, every step of the way.  That is the issue, plain and simple. Yet, you fail to address that.

You claim that because Martin Dzuris, a self-proclaimed conservative Republican, is a friend and supporter of Parlak, therefore, some Kosher (or is that Halal?) seal of approval must automatically be stamped on Parlak.  What does Dzuris know about Parlak?  He played tennis with him and, like you, ate at his restaurant.  Big deal.  He was not there in Turkey with Parlak and his grenade, AK-47, and pistol, and he was also not there, each of the five times Parlak lied about his being held responsible in two murders.  He was not there at the terrorist training camp in the Bekaa Valley, etc.  What about that? 

And what about Parlak's lawyer, Noel Saleh, who openly declared that he donated to Hezbollah, another terrorist group, which murdered over 300 U.S. Marines and civilians, and who is president of an organization tied to terrorism?  President Bush welcomed Islamic Jihad front-man Sami Al-Arian to the White House, as well as others who are strongly tied to terrorist groups.  Bush, as you may know, is a conservative Republican, too.  But, he, too, was wrong (and I called him on it, in an October 2001 series of columns and an "O'Reilly Factor" appearance, that same month).

As a conservative, I really do not need to be lectured by a liberal, activist movie critic about the definition of a "conservative."  "Unnecessary government intervention in the private lives of citizens" (your words) have nothing to do with this situation.  This is not even close to akin to government intervention in abortion or someone's sex life, regardless of what your and/or my views on those issues are.  In fact, the primary purpose of government is to defend its citizens--from harm, from foreign armies and invaders, etc.  I suggest a review of the U.S. Constitution, as I can think of no better example of the federal government exercising its power per Article IV, Section 4, which states, "The United States shall guarantee . . . . and shall protect each of them [each State] against Invasion," or Article I, Section 8, which provides Congress (which created DHS) the power to "repel Invasions."  When illegal aliens come to this country, and lie to get citizenship, that is, no doubt, an invasion.

As for the headline you quote, which you claim is "playing dirty," I am, indeed, proud of it.  On my own website, it's entitled, "Thumbs Down:  Roger Ebert Supports a Terrorist."  In your own letter to the government, you begin by saying, "I am a film critic." You are allowed to use your status as a TV and print movie critic as a credential, however dubious with regard to national security, for your claims that Parlak does not pose a risk to this country and is not a dangerous person, yet I am not allowed to use your trademark phrases employed as a movie critic?  You can't have it both ways.

As far as "playing dirty," I could have mentioned in my column your own failed "films," which you—no surprise given their gutter quality--wrote under the pseudonyms, "R. Hyde" and "Reinhold Timme." 

I could have discussed the "plot" of "Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens," the promotional posters of which feature two giant female breasts and erect nipples, with nude and semi-nude women orgying on top of them.  I could have discussed the main character, "Lamar's obsession with rear entry," how "Lamar is trying to find other tail to try his technique on," and the movie's "love scene from the mattress' point of view."  Or I could have mentioned your masterpiece, "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," featuring "a sleeping woman performing on a gun which is in her mouth" and "lesbian sex scenes."  Or I could have written about "Up!" which features an Adolph Hitler look-alike, playing character "Adolf Schwartz" (talk about belittling the Holocaust and WWII).  "Springtime for Hitler," anyone?  That's not to mention its "one-woman nude Greek chorus" that pops up at various intervals during the movie, to narrate, and "breasts from every angle imaginable."

Had I mentioned these other things, perhaps you could have said that I was "playing dirty"--or merely just writing about you "playing dirty."  But the dirtiest thing here is that a renowned movie critic—who employs ink by the gallon for his own print column--is using his renown to help a man like this--a murderer and trained terrorist.  Then, he's shocked, shocked, when someone calls him on it.


Sincerely,

Debbie Schlussel

P.S. I'm not sure why your letter to the "Comments" section of FrontPagemag.com was rejected, as I don't believe it was vulgar or profane.  It must have been a computer error, and I am therefore, forwarding and submitting it along with this response to the editor for publication.

* Since determined posters have found ways to continue posting crude language in our Comments section despite our best efforts, our profanity filter searches each submission for combinations of letters that make up common curse words. Unfortunately, this often results in non-profane comments being rejected. Should you encounter this, please attempt to rephrase your comment and submit it again. We apologize for the inconvenience. -- The Editors.


Roger Ebert is a world-renowned film critic. Visit Debbie Schlussel's website at DebbieSchlussel.com. She can be reached at dschlussel@yahoo.com.


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