Usually the two sides of the great political divide in the United States talk past each other, or ignore each other altogether. The list of the Leftist and Muslim academics and apologists who have refused my challenge to debate is very long; they know they can't refute what I say on the basis of evidence, so they resort to broad-based smears and personal attacks -- and haughty refusals to debate.
And on those rare occasions when the opposition does offer a substantive response, it's tissue-paper thin. A friend recently told me that he posted a lengthy rebuttal to a pseudo-scholarly presentation purporting to prove false something I said about the meaning of an Arabic word (my friend is a native Arabic speaker); his comment was summarily deleted. And the piece at hand is no better: in it, the author pretends that I have far less evidence to support my case than I actually have, and hopes that his readers won't notice.
They probably won't, if they are usual run of knee-jerk, uncritical Leftists. But I did. And now you will.
"The Usual Suspects," by Adam Serwer in The American Prospect, June 11 (thanks to James):
It's becoming an old story at this point. A group of American Muslims try to build a mosque, and right winders [sic] accuse the group of having terrorist ties. This time, it's the Muslim American Society, and the mosque is in Staten Island:More than a dozen speakers, including Robert Spencer, a writer whose blog, Jihad Watch, is widely read in conservative foreign-policy circles, said that the society and its national director, Mr. [Mahdi] Bray, had ties to Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood. The first two are on the State Department's list.
"Will you denounce Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations?" Mr. Spencer demanded. "Yes or no?"
Mr. [Ayman] Hammous said he denounced "any form of terrorism, any act of terror -- by individuals, by groups, by governments."
Spencer's evidence, as always, is tenuous. In his account of the Wednesday meeting, he links to a "40 page report" from his organization detailing these alleged terror ties, but the link doesn't work.
It is not a link to my organization, but to Steve Emerson's Investigative Project. It is a link to the IPT report on the Muslim American Society. Here, for good measure, is the IPT report on the MAS's parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood.
He also posts a link to this video from 2000 showing MAS leader Imam Mahdi Bray publicly cheering the mention of Hamas and Hezbollah in Lafayette Square Park. In the proud tradition of Andrew Breitbart, the video cuts off most of the relevant context. The 44 second clip shows a crowd cheering as a [sic] Abdulrahman Alamoudi, then the leader of the American Muslim Council (not the Muslim American Society, which is building the mosque), says "I have been labeled by the media in New York to be a supporter of Hamas, anybody a supporter of Hamas here?" He later adds "I wish they added that I am also a supporter of Hezbollah." Bray, along with the crowd can be seen cheering to both statements in the background, and Spencer claims this as evidence of his ties to terror.
Both the speaker and the crowd were being sarcastic. That much is intimated by the statement "the media has labelled me."...
Sarcastic? These guys should get their story straight. Serwer's is a new one. But the sarcasm story doesn't square with Bray's other behavior. In December 2000, for example, Bray organized and spoke at an event that Emerson describes this way: "posters calling for 'Death to Israel' and equating the Star of David with the Nazi swastika were openly displayed, and anti-Semitic literature calling for the destruction of the Jews and Israel was distributed. Members of the crowd burned the Israeli flag while marching to the White House."
Spencer calls MAS the "Muslim Brotherhood's chief operating arm in the United States." This claim is substantiated by a link to Pam Geller, the conservative blogger who once published speculation on her blog that Barack Obama was the illegitimate son of Malcolm X. Geller in turn, links to a general document about the Muslim Brotherhood's international goals but doesn't say anything about MAS, or provide any evidence that they have a relationship....
Actually I didn't link to Pamela Geller in that instance to show the connection between the MAS and the Muslim Brotherhood, but to give background on the shady deal that saw the Staten Island convent end up in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood. And by the way, as for that Malcolm X canard, Serwer doesn't bother to quote this statement from Pamela Geller: "The 'Atlas says that Barack Obama is Malcolm X's love child' charge has gone viral among leftards and lizards. The only problem with it is that it is false....I do not believe that Barack Obama is Malcolm X's love child, and never did."
For the link between the Muslim American Society and the Muslim Brotherhood, see the 2004 Chicago Tribune expose to which I have linked at Jihad Watch many times over the years. But I find tonight that it is gone from the Tribune website, and can be found in its entirety on...the Muslim Brotherhood website, Ikhwanweb.
The article says: ""In recent years, the U.S. Brotherhood operated under the name Muslim American Society, according to documents and interviews. One of the nation's major Islamic groups, it was incorporated in Illinois in 1993 after a contentious debate among Brotherhood members."
The Brotherhood itself seems to have no problem with that claim.
MAS isn't the first Muslim group Spencer has accused of being tied to terror. Spencer also recently appeared on the Sean Hannity [sic] where he made similar accusations against Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, whose organization is building the Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero. Alongside Debra Burlingame, who co-founded Keep America Safe with Liz Cheney, Spencer suggested Rauf's father was part of the Muslim Brotherhood. That information is false:Conservative critics have also suggested the project will be funded by radical groups abroad, but Rauf says they haven't raised any money yet. They've also sought to tie Rauf's late father, Dr. Muhammad Abdul Rauf, to the Muslim Brotherhood. But Rauf points out that during the 1960s, when Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser was cracking down on the Brotherhood, the Egyptian government was sending his father around the world to give lectures. "Anyone who had ever been in the Muslim Brotherhood was imprisoned," Rauf says. "Had my father been in the Brotherhood, he would have been picked up."
Maybe. But it isn't that easy. Nasser, like Sadat and Mubarak after him, always played carrot-and-stick games with the Brotherhood, giving them leeway and cracking down by turns in order to try to keep a lid on the movement but not so tight a one as to lead to a revolution. And as for Rauf's father, journalist Alyssa Lappen declares that "Feisal Rauf's Muslim Brotherhood provenance, radical by definition, is as authentic as it gets." She points out that his father fled Egypt in 1948 -- which just happens to be right around the time that the Egyptian government really was cracking down hard on the Brotherhood, in the same crackdown that ultimately resulted in the assassination of Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna in February 1949.
It's not a coincidence that these are moderate and liberal Muslim groups being targeted--Spencer and his fellows see most Muslims as potential terrorists. "They believe that every Muslim is a covert Jihadi with an assault rifle or an explosive vest hidden at home that they can't wait to bring out," Ramey says. "Nothing could be further from the truth."
Indeed. Nothing could be further from the truth than the idea that I actually think such a thing, but it should be clear by now that neither Serwer nor Ramey care very much for the truth.
His opposition to building the mosque, Spencer says, is done in the name of protecting America from Islam, to prevent Muslims from "subjugat[ing] women and non-Muslims and deny the freedom of speech and the freedom of conscience." Because in Spencer's world, a country that has freedom of speech and conscience is one that denies Muslims the right to build places of worship. The Ground Zero excuse -- that an Islamic center would dishonor the memory of those who died on 9/11 -- certainly doesn't fly in Staten Island.
Serwer ignores, of course, the fact that Ground Zero mega-mosque Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is an open proponent of Sharia, which does subjugate women and non-Muslims and deny the freedom of speech and freedom of conscience. Either we allow the propagation of such ideas in the U.S. or we don't. If we do, however, we will ultimately lose those freedoms in our society as a whole. The philosopher Karl Popper explained it: "Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed and tolerance with them."
And I suspect Adam Serwer would be just fine with that.