Pamela has a post this morning, "CAIR Plays Presidential Politics With Our Lives," about CAIR complaining that "while Democrats tend to talk about terrorism in general, Republicans increasingly pin the threat directly on Islam." That quote comes from a piece posted on CAIR's website, "CAIR: Republicans Pin Terror on Islam, Democrats Don’t."
This is not, however, a CAIR press release. CAIR has simply reposted a Wall Street Journal article, "Linking Terror on the Trail: Republicans Point To Islam, Democrats Take Different Tone," by Elizabeth Holmes.
Elizabeth Holmes interviewed me at some length for this article, and I explained to her that the linkage between Islam and terrorism did not come from Republican presidential candidates, but from the terrorists themselves, who consistently point to Islamic teachings to explain and justify their actions. If we refuse to explore this, and to speak about it honestly, we are voluntarily declining to make use of the only key that they themselves have given us to understanding their own motives and goals. And without understanding the motives and goals of an opponent, you cannot defeat him.
Does speaking of "Islamic terrorism" defame or demean all Muslims? Not unless speaking of "Italian fascism" classified all Italians as followers of Mussolini. In fact, if groups like CAIR really wanted to fight against the use of Islamic texts and teachings by jihad terrorists, they would not ignore that use, and criticize those who note it, but would confront it head-on and develop comprehensive programs for mosques and Islamic schools in America to teach against it.
Anyway, I explained all this, and more, to Elizabeth Holmes. But I am not mentioned in the article. Now, that's fine -- it doesn't have to come from me, as long as the perspective I articulated is represented. But in fact, this perspective doesn't appear in the article at all, although it's the best, and indeed the only, defense of the Republican candidates' usage.
The article is thoroughly stacked: in defense of the Republicans speaking of "Islamic terrorism," we hear from "a 62-year-old retiree who heard Mr. Romney speak in Clinton, Iowa, earlier this month," who just offers a quip, and "Henry Eldridge, the past chairman of the York County Republican Party in South Carolina." On the critical side there are four full paragraphs devoted to the negative reactions of David Halperin, a senior vice president at the Democratic-leaning think tank Center for American Progress; James Zogby of the Arab American Institute; Gary Sick, an adjunct professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs; and CAIR's Nihad Awad.
This is fairness? Balance? Objectivity? Journalism?
To top it off, Elizabeth Holmes followed up with me late last week, sending me this email: "Robert – my eds wanted me to ask you what religion you are – would you mind?"
I responded: "I don't mind -- it's a matter of public knowledge -- but why? Is this something that changes the understanding and usage of the word 'jihad' by Islamic supremacists?"
Holmes: "No, it's just something I mention with others, a trait they used in explaining their reactions to Romney."
Spencer: "My reactions to Romney aren't a result of my religion. They result from my readings of Islamic texts and study of how those texts are used by the jihadists to justify terrorism and Islamic supremacism."
I didn't hear from her after that. But the question itself indicates how thoroughly such reporters, who guide and control so much of what we know about the world, misunderstand the jihad threat in all its dimensions.
And the whole episode illustrates once again why I so dislike talking with reporters, who so often just don't care to report on matters fairly or accurately.