Is 'Angels and Demons' soft on Muslim terrorists?
Just when Ron Howard thought he was in the clear, having avoided being attacks by the Vatican for any anti-Catholic story lines in his upcoming "Angels and Demons," he now finds himself under fire from the one and only Debbie Schlussel. Revered as a truth-teller in conservative circles, the blogger-critic is actually a trigger-happy anti-Muslim zealot -- she went nuclear last year when "Defiance" Ed Zwick director refused to condemn Hamas -- who's now taking aim at "Angels and Demons," which she (big surprise) thinks is soft on Muslim terrorists.
How did the Howard-directed thriller go from being anti-Catholic to pro-Muslim? According to early press reports, Howard apparently changed the identity of an assassin, who is Muslim in the Dan Brown bestseller, to someone who is now Danish. For the rest of us, this is -- how should I put it -- not such a big deal. But for Schlussel? She writes:
"Over the years, I've written about the many movies in which Hollywood changes the villain or the terrorist in the original script or novel from a Muslim to something else out of politically correct deference to Islam, the religion of whiners (and ultimately, murderers). Now, Hollywood continues in this tradition. ... I'm already learning that ['Angels and Demons'] has been 'disinfected' by Islamopanderers (director Ron Howard) not wanting to upset our dear friends in the 'Religion of Peace,' who might do something 'peaceful' if the movie had stayed true to the book."
This is just part of a prolonged Schlussel shame campaign, often based on the flimsiest of evidence, to belittle Hollywood for not treating Muslims as wild-eyed villains. In one of her classic posts, she attacked Marvel Comics for giving academic internships to Arab students from the United Arab Emirates, using that as evidence to support her outrageous claim that "Spider-Man and the Hulk are embracing the new Nazis." She also recently ridiculed the Wall Street Journal for allowing one of its reporters ("with a Muslim-sounding first name") to write admiringly about a Muslim author doing a DC comic book.
I don't exactly have a direct line to Ron Howard to talk to him about his casting process. But here's my suggestion: The next time Howard does a Dan Brown thriller, if there's a good part for a terrorist, I think he oughta make sure Debbie Schlussel gets first crack at the job.
Photo of Tom Hanks in "Angels and Demons" by Zade Rosenthal/Columbia Pictures.