By Andrew L. Jaffee
Too make a long story short, I submitted a letter to the editor of a local “alternative” newspaper challenging the notion that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was a “moderate” Muslim group. Getting my brief manifesto published took longer than normal despite the fact that I followed all the editorial guidelines for letters to the editor: “[We] strongly encourage letters to the editor. We ask that you keep your letters brief, preferably under 500 words.” I did so, and my letter was finally printed on paper and posted on the journal’s website. What dismayed me the most was the jungle of political correctness I had to cut through just to talk to somebody about getting my letter published. In other words, I had to engage in politics to get a letter to the editor printed.
Note the I have written freelance for this paper for years, sometimes even publishing front-page features, so it is not as if the editorial staff and publisher do not know me.
On March 1, Dayton City Paper published a story on a workshop sponsored by CAIR to “help” Americans understand Muslim concerns about the Danish cartoon controversy, entitled, “Focus: The ‘True Image of Muhammed.’” It is notable that the paper’s editorial board picked CAIR as a “moderate” Muslim group even after a previous editor had uncovered the group’s dark side in a back issue (see “Sidebar,” Tuesday, August 31, 2004). I wrote a response in the form of a letter to the editor. A month went by. I contacted the news editor, following the chain of command, but received no response. I finally contacted the publisher, did some negotiating, and my letter appeared two weeks later, only after being told I needed to cut my letter from 500 words to 250 (what happened to the guidelines?).
The editorial board, or at least the story’s writer, could easily have found information about true moderate Muslim groups, like the Islamic Supreme Council of America. But as Daniel Pipes points out:
CAIR is also a media darling. It claims to log five thousand annual mentions on newspapers, television, and radio, including some of the most prestigious media in the United States. The press dutifully quotes CAIR’s statistics, publishes its theological views, reports its opinions, rehashes its press releases, invites its staff on television, and generally dignifies its existence as a routine part of the American and Canadian political scenes.
CAIR regularly participates in seminars on Islamic cultural issues for corporations and has been invited to speak at many of America’s leading universities, including Harvard, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, and Columbia. American high schools have invited CAIR to promote its agenda, as have educationally-minded senior citizens.
I could assign completely cynical motives to the paper’s choice of CAIR as “moderate” — e.g., they knew exactly whom they were dealing with, but one has to put Muslim connections to terror in the “proper context.” In other words, Muslims are so besieged and discriminated against, then they are “desperate” and would naturally gravitate towards radicalism. On the other hand, I could have assumed that the paper choose CAIR without any pre-knowledge whatsoever about the group.
The truth, I believe, lies in the middle. The paper probably knew vaguely of CAIR’s dark side, but were fearful of angering the group by shunning it. They also assumed that since CAIR is high-profile, then it must be a legitimate group (never mind all the Wahabi/Saudi funding the group gets).
You’ll notice that that article covering the cartoon workshop is filled with feel-good platitudes by the Muslim organizers to lull attendees into a false sense of security. I’m sure they painted smiles on their faces while trying to convince the locals attending the event that Islamism (radical Islam) poses no threat to America — though they never mentioned Islamism or radical Islam, which are the main agenda of CAIR.
Here’s a platitude quoted in the article:
“Muslims do not believe that freedom of speech is an absolute concept,” Hourani said. “[It] is a valuable concept in and of itself when it involves the search for truth, but not when it’s laced with vulgarity and cloaked in bigotry. There are many examples in the Koran of Satan disagreeing with God. Muslims are not threatened by debate. On the contrary, Islam encourages constructive dialogue between [different religious ideologies]. But the cartoons do not add to the intelligence of the reader or enrich any debate. Rather, they promote hate.”
Sounds nice, except it contradicts the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, which states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The positives? The paper printed my letter exposing CAIR. Four issues have gone by since then, and no one has responded. Note that this is unusual for CAIR, as Daniel Pipes points out:
CAIR attempts to close down public debate about itself and Islam in several ways, starting with a string of lawsuits against public and private individuals and several publications. CAIR’s Rabiah Ahmed has openly acknowledged that lawsuits are increasingly an “instrument” for it to use.
But CAIR’s fortunes have been changing of late. CAIR recently “settled” its lawsuit (intimidation) against Andrew Whitehead of Anti-CAIR (http://www.anti-cair-net.org/). CAIR-CAN has dropped a similar suit against David B. Harris, Director of the International and Terrorist Intelligence Program, INSIGNIS Strategic Research Inc. Perhaps CAIR is starting to learn a little bit about the Western legal system it has abused for so long. Again, Daniel Pipes:
…[CAIR] ran into a litigation buzz-saw, and it seems to have cut and run. CAIR preferred the ignominy of walking away from the case [against Anti-CAIR] it initiated rather than open to public scrutiny its finances, its list of supporters, and the beliefs and intentions of its key leaders.
The negatives? There are still droves of people who either know nothing of CAIR or, on the other extreme, are eager to tolerate the group merely because the word “Islam” is included in its organization’s name.
Which is why is strongly encourage readers to write letters to the editor of their local newspapers whenever CAIR is mentioned, and remind readers of the group’s scary agenda (click here for a bibliography on CAIR).
Think globally, act locally. You may not get published at the Washington Post, but you may be able to expose CAIR on the local level.
Related: Media/Blogsphere, Political Correctness, Terrorist Groups, War Against Islamo-fascism