In “Valid criticism or vicious stereotypes?” at the Chicago Tribune’s Seeker blog, Manya Brachear offers a predictably slanted take on the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ thuggish and defamatory war on free speech at the American Library Association.
First, the setup: this article is about “persistent and false stereotypes about Islam,” and wouldn’t you know it, pesky details like those jihad arrests in North Carolina are sure just to perpetuate them:
Comments on this blog regularly reveal some persistent and false stereotypes about Islam. Monday”s arrest of seven suspected terrorists in North Carolina allegedly plotting violent jihad is sure to spark more.
To lead off with an unsupported remark about alleged stereotypes about Islam is to tip the scales in CAIR’s favor, since CAIR routinely characterizes even accurate reporting about how Islamic jihadists use Islamic texts and teachings to justify violence and Islamic supremacism as “stereotyping.” A truly objective journalist might have led off with something about free speech and censorship; an informed journalist might even have discussed the Organization of the Islamic Conference’s international war on free speech about Islam. A thoughtful journalist might have considered the ominous implications of CAIR’s use of intimidation to silence perspectives of which they disapprove, and the ironies of the American Library Association, a vaunted champion of free speech and the right of unpopular views to be heard, bowing to them.
Manya Brachear did none of those things, opting instead to adopt CAIR’s false line about “stereotyping.” And it gets worse.
Earlier this month in Chicago, some of the same stereotypes surfaced at an annual librarians” conference, outside a suburban hotel and in a federal courtroom. But when does valid criticism of extreme religious beliefs turn into branding an entire faith community unfairly?
Neither Manya Brachear nor CAIR can come up with anything that I have ever said about the “entire faith community” of Muslims, because I haven’t ever said anything about “all Muslims,” and have repeatedly and frequently acknowledged the manifest fact that the “entire faith community” is not actively and single-mindedly working toward a unified goal. Manya Brachear, however, when we spoke, did not ask me anything about that. Apparently it wouldn’t have fit her preconceived narrative.
That was one of the questions scholars and writers on a panel about stereotypes hoped to tackle during the American Library Association’s annual meeting in Chicago earlier this month. But the event was called off when all but one panelist withdrew because they opposed the last panelist standing. Organizers said a panel of one did not offer the diversity of perspectives they were seeking.
Of course, if the three Muslim panelists had gone on without me, there wouldn’t have been any diversity of perspective either. I was actually the one who represented real diversity of perspective, and the only dissenting voice on what was certain to be a panel full of dreary victimhood-mongering and trumped-up tales of “Islamophobia.”
The controversial panelist, Robert Spencer, an author of books and articles about Islam’s violent teachings, blamed the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations for pressuring the American Library Association to silence his point of view. He believes that CAIR has ties to the terrorist organization of Hamas.
This is the most egregious of all: “He believes that CAIR has ties to the terrorist organization of Hamas,” as if this were some irrational idea I’ve latched on to, no doubt out of bigotry and hatred. Brachear does not mention, of course, that CAIR is an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas terror funding case — so named by the Justice Department, not by me. She says nothing about the fact that CAIR operatives have repeatedly refused to denounce Hamas and Hizballah as terrorist groups. Brachear gives her readers no hint that several former CAIR officials have been convicted of various crimes related to jihad terror. Nor does she mention the fact that its cofounder and longtime Board chairman, as well as its chief spokesman, have made Islamic supremacist statements. No, none of that. CAIR’s Hamas ties are just something I “believe” in, and from the looks of Brachear’s piece, without any evidence whatsoever.
“CAIR, of course, would have you believe that they, and all American Muslims, abhor terrorism, reject Islamic supremacism, and fully accept Constitutional pluralism and the non-establishment of religion,” Spencer said, implying that the group believes nothing of the sort.
Ahmed Rehab, executive director of CAIR”s Chicago chapter, said it’s that very attitude that made Spencer’s participation on the panel inappropriate.
That’s interesting. Brachear quotes me about CAIR and then quotes Brave Ahmed Rehab saying “it’s that very attitude that made Spencer’s participation on the panel inappropriate.” So was all this about CAIR? Did all this happen because Rehab was afraid I would expose CAIR at the ALA?
“I was hoping the event would take place as advertised, which is having an informed discussion about dispelling stereotypes,” Rehab said. “It was sabotaged when they invited a discredited bigot.”
Discredited? When, how, and by whom? Brave Ahmed Rehab, like all my other critics, makes a broad-based assertion that what I say is wrong and bigoted, but does not and cannot produce any evidence that it is either. And of course, when he had a chance to discredit me publicly in an open forum, he bravely turned and ran.
And Manya Brachear, evidently, did not ask him to support his claims.
Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch, a program of the conservative David Horowitz Freedom Center,
“Conservative.” You know what that means to the Chicago Trib: it’s a signal that this is an evil fellow who is not to be supported.
and the author of eight books on Islam and jihad, including two best sellers “The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion” and “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam.” His exegesis of the Quran highlights verses in Islam’s Holy Scripture that condone violence. Some scholars call his method proof-texting, adding the same could be said of the Bible.
Brachear makes no mention of the fact that I actually have no “exegesis of the Quran” at all, but merely report on how Islamic jihadists make use of it to justify their actions and make recruits among peaceful Muslims. For Islamic jihadists from Indonesia to Nigeria, as well as in Europe and North America, consistently point to elements of Islamic belief as the motivation and justification for their actions.
In March 2009, five Muslims accused of helping plot the 9/11 attacks wrote an “Islamic Response to the Government’s Nine Accusations.” In it they quote the Qur’an to justify their jihad war against American Infidels. Osama bin Laden’s communiquÃ©s have also quoted the Qur’an copiously. In his 1996 “Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places,” he quotes seven Qur’an verses, including the notorious “Verse of the Sword”: “Slay the idolaters wherever you find them” (9:5).
The idea that the Qur’an commands Muslims to do violence to unbelievers runs from the very top of the international jihadist movement down to the rank and file. In January 2006, a gang of Muslims in Paris kidnapped, tortured, and murdered Ilan Halimi, a 23-year-old Jew. During Halimi’s ordeal, his captors called his family, demanding half a million euros in ransom money and reciting Qur’an verses. And on March 3, 2006, twenty-two-year-old student Mohammed Taheri-azar drove an SUV into a crowd on the Carolina campus, injuring nine. Taheri-azar later declared: “I live with the holy Koran as my constitution for right and wrong and definition of justice….Allah gives permission in the Koran for the followers of Allah to attack those who have raged [sic] war against them”¦” Later he sent a detailed exposition of the Qur’an’s teachings on warfare to the Carolina campus newspaper.
But you get no idea of this from Manya Brachear. Like most journalists in the media establishment, she would prefer to believe that people like me make the connection between the Qur’an and Islamic terrorism, not Muslims themselves.
“They characterize me in very negative terms but never actually complain substantively,” Spencer said. “They can never come up with “Spencer says X but the reality says Y because the Quran says this or that” … I know I”m fighting for the principles of Western civilization … These things mean a lot to me, and I”m willing to go out and fight and be defamed for them.”
I told her which principles of Western civilization — freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, equality of rights for women, etc. — but apparently Brachear thought that to list those in her piece might lead her readers to support the dreaded “conservative.”
Spencer called attention to another event earlier this month in Oak Lawn. Hizb ut-Tahrir, an international movement seeking to re-establish an international Islamic state, held a conference titled “The Fall of Capitalism and the Rise of Islam” in the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton Hotel. About 300 people attended the conference, which was labeled by critics as a drive to recruit Americans for the cause. Nearly 100 protesters demonstrated outside the hotel, asking that the group be given the boot.
Rehab said he was not opposed to the group’s right to peacefully assemble, but he does not agree with the group’s ideology or its members” perspective that capitalism and Islam are mutually exclusive.
“Islam is a faith. It can take place in any type of nation-state,” Rehab said. “Their interpretation of Islam is not one I share. It has to take place in a political matter and one that they define.”
But that doesn’t mean CAIR or any American Muslims should condemn them, Rehab added. They just don’t join them.
“It’s a controversial group because of their narrow interpretation of Islam and how it relates to politics,” Rehab said. “I can not claim that there is any danger to the group. As far as I”m concerned, they”re a non-violent group. That’s the litmus test of whether we should issue something. Much like the American Library Association shouldn’t associate with Spencer, we wouldn’t align ourselves with Hizb ut-Tahrir.”
“I can not claim that there is any danger to the group.” Brachear, of course, entirely misses the implications of this. Rehab says that Hizb-ut-Tahrir is “a non-violent group,” and that “that’s the litmus test.” But in reality, violence is only part of the problem. Rehab says nothing of substance about Hizb-ut-Tahrir’s explicit desire to impose Islamic law upon the United States other than to avow vaguely that he disagrees with the group’s “ideology.” He completely sidesteps the key question of whether or not he agrees with their desire to bring elements of Sharia here.
Then Brachear meanders of into irrelevancies, apparently to imply that I am somehow responsible for people harassing a Muslim correctional officer in Cook County:
CAIR did align itself with a Cook County correctional officer awarded $200,000 last week by a federal jury based on his claims that he was harassed by colleagues because of his Arab ancestry. CAIR”s Chicago chapter filed the lawsuit in 2007 on his behalf.
Officer Abraham Yasin said the Cook County sheriff’s office failed to stop his comrades from slapping him with slurs such as “camel jockey,” “bin Laden,” and “shoe bomber.”
The sheriff’s department said it resolved four of Yasin’s seven harassment claims. It also implemented a zero-tolerance policy toward racism.
But CAIR and Yasin said that wasn’t enough.
“I served my country in uniform with dignity and honor and felt betrayed that my service would be met by some of my fellows with racial slurs, harassment and ridicule,” Yasin said in a statement on Friday after the verdict in his favor. “This is not what our country is about.”
What do you think? Were the three examples a case of stereotypes gone wrong? Or are some of them valid criticisms?
What does any of that have to do with the ALA and CAIR’s thuggish intimidation tactics and war on free speech? Why, nothing. Nothing at all, except once again to divert attention away from that and onto the idea of Muslims as victims. The possibility that the best antidote to “Islamophobia” and “stereotyping” would be for Islamic groups like CAIR to work actively and honestly within U.S. Muslim communities to teach against the ideology of Hizb-ut-Tahrir and other Islamic supremacists doesn’t seem to enter Brachear’s mind.
Well, that’s what passes for journalism these days.