As I noted here, Wednesday night I took part in Christiane Amanpour’s jihad whitewash on ABC’s “This Week” show. It will run at 11AM Eastern on Sunday morning, but I won’t be watching, as Amanpour was enthusiastically fronting for the Islamic supremacists and dissemblers throughout the whole program. You can see here about how Amanpour cut off discussion of how Daisy Khan of the Ground Zero mega-mosque initiative was flagrantly lying.
Perhaps Amanpour has no trouble with departures from truth and accuracy, if she saw and approved this press release/news article about the show, as it is riddled with exaggerations and inaccuracies: “Amanpour to Host Special Town Hall; Locale Undisclosed,” by Betsy Rothstein for Media Bistro, September 30:
A special ABC “This Week” town hall meeting is taking place in New York City, where Christiane Amanpour will moderate a live debate “Holy War: Should Americans Fear Islam?”
This gives the false impression that the debate will be broadcast live. Actually, it was taped on Wednesday evening. It was live then, to be sure, but it went on for two hours, and they’re going to cut it down to one. Plus, they filmed me walking out of my hotel room and in a brief interview in a cab going to the location of the debate, and I understand they did such filming with all the other panelists as well. So of the two hours filmed, probably about 45 minutes will be used, and judging from Amanpour’s relentless bias throughout the taping, I am sure that those who were assigned to be on the “fear Islam” side will come off as poorly as the editors can possibly manage.
Also, the whole show was wrongly framed in the first place. I do not believe that Americans should fear Islam. I believe that all free people should recognize the threat to freedom posed by Islamic supremacism, and act to defend the freedoms threatened by the jihad — notably the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights of all people before the law. That is not a matter of fear. The response to Islamic supremacism should not be fear, but resolution, determination, courage, and perseverance.
ABC is not revealing the exact location of the town hall due to security reasons.
A ridiculous hype bubble, which under the circumstances I am happy to puncture: the town hall was filmed Wednesday evening between 7 and 9PM at ABC’s studios on 44th Street in Times Square. I didn’t see any security guards present, but there was a whole studio full of invited audience members. An ABC producer told me beforehand that I could invite five people to be in the audience. There were three panelists on each side, so if each one had invited five guests, that would have filled the audience with thirty people, equally divided on the issue. But there were about 150 people in the studio, and easily 140 of them were enthusiastically on the side of Daisy Khan and Reza Aslan.
Where did they all come from? Were the “fearers of Islam” allowed to bring five guests each while the “non-fearers of Islam” allowed to bring fifteen or twenty each? I don’t have any direct information on that, but it would certainly explain the makeup of the crowd.
Noteably [sic], 2000 presidential hopeful Gary Bauer will be there. Who can forget him falling off a podium during a Bisquick pancake flipping contest? Refresh your memory here.
A nasty cheap shot revealing that Media Bistro too employs propagandizing pseudo-journalists.
The guests: Evangelist Franklin Graham, Daisy Khan — Executive Director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement and one of the leading organizers behind the planned mosque and Islamic community center in New York City, Azar Nafisi, Author of “Reading Lolita in Tehran,” Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, Peter Gadiel of the 9/11 Families for a Secure America Foundation, and Donna Marsh O’Connor of the September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows.
The town hall meeting airs Sunday, October 3 on “This Week with Christiane Amanpour.”
Other special guests…
Reza Aslan, Contributing Editor of The Daily Beast and Author of “No god but God,” and “Beyond Fundamentalism”
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Author, “NOMAD” Resident Scholar at American Enterprise Institute
Gary Bauer, President of American Values
Brad Garrett, Former FBI Special Agent and ABC News Contributor
Imam Ossama Bahloul, Islamic Center Of Murfreesboro, TN
Anjem Choudary, Islam4UK
And so to Reza Aslan. Amanpour had clearly arranged for Aslan to appear on the show via video hookup from Amsterdam at least in part in order to smear me — at one point she mentioned that I was co-founder of Stop Islamization of America, but instead of going to me for comment, or even to ask me some pointed question, she said that Aslan had background on the roots of the Stop Islamization movement in Europe, and went to him. Aslan then lied outright, claiming that the movement was neo-Nazi, and slinging charge after unsubstantiated charge that I was a bigot, a hatemonger, a racist, a pseudo-scholar, an eater of babies, etc. When I tried to respond, Amanpour put her finger to her lips and shushed me, although I went on anyway — I doubt, however, that my responses will make the broadcast version.
At one point I was able to note that the Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of the Ground Zero mega-mosque initiative openly called for restrictions on the freedom of speech in his book What’s Right with Islam — whereupon Aslan, to the great delight of the crowd, asked, “Who doesn’t realize that freedom of speech is not unlimited?” He elided, of course, the distinction between legitimate restrictions on free speech — calling for the murder of individuals, etc. — and the kinds of restrictions that Rauf meant: as an open advocate for Sharia, Rauf would doubtless favor the Organization of the Islamic Conference’s campaign to limit discussion of Islam and jihad in the West, rendering us mute and defenseless before the advancing jihad. In coming out for restrictions on freedom of speech when that is unmistakably what was meant, Aslan revealed his little totalitarian heart and eagerness to serve as an apologist for oppression.
Some of the smears Aslan hurled Wednesday night are in a piece he wrote on September 9 for the Daily Beast about our September 11 Rally of Remembrance against the Ground Zero mega-mosque, “The Charlatans Have Taken Over 9/11.” I ignored it at the time it came out, as it is just a tissue of defamation and lies, but now that ABC is going to give this sleazy smear merchant a platform on Sunday morning, I thought a response was in order.
There is little of substance in the piece; Aslan prefers to deal in vitriol, and the Daily Beast’s header starts the smears off in style:
A group of opportunists planning an anti-Islam rally at Ground Zero Saturday are hijacking a day reserved for mourning and reflection. From Geert Wilders, the infamous anti-Muslim Dutch politician to Pam Geller, an influential blogger, Reza Aslan on bigots using 9/11 to spread more hate.
So now standing with the 70% of Americans who believe that the Ground Zero mega-mosque is an insult makes you an “opportunist.” Standing for freedom and equality for all against Islamic supremacism and Sharia, which denies the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and equality of rights for all, makes you “anti-Muslim,” as well as “infamous” and guilty of spreading “hate.” Meanwhile, carrying water for an oppressive ideology that silences dissidents and enslaves women is multicultural and broad-minded. Got it.
Aslan then begins with a barrage of smear words, semaphoring to his besotted hard-Left easy-mark readers at the Daily Beast that the people who are behind the resistance to the Ground Zero mega-mosque are The Enemy:
The international gathering of wingnuts, far-right ideologues, Euro-fascists, and anti-Muslim hate groups that will gather at ground zero Saturday should dispel any illusion that the fury over the Park51 Project, otherwise known as the “ground zero mosque,” was ever a controversy solely about location.
None of these labels have any actual substance. Aslan could just as well have written “The international gathering of bad guys and poopyheads that will gather at ground zero Sunday…” That is about the intellectual level at which he operates anyway. In reality, the Rally was in defense of American principles of liberty and justice for all, against the Islamic supremacist imperative that would deny liberty and justice to all. And it is clear which side Reza Aslan is on.
More “poopyheads” rhetoric from Aslan follows:
On the ninth anniversary of the attacks of 9/11, a group calling itself Stop Islamization of America is planning an anti-Islam rally at that hallowed ground, hijacking a day that is supposed to be reserved for mourning and reflection and instead using it to spread their bigotry and hate.
Stop Islamization of America is an offshoot of a European neo-Nazi organization called Stop Islamization of Europe, whose motto is “Racism is the lowest form of human stupidity, but Islamophobia is the height of common sense.” The American wing of the organization, which is also behind some of the mosque protests taking place all across the country, is headed by two fringe figures, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer.
There is, of course, nothing neo-Nazi about SIOE, and its motto is merely making the point that to resist Islamic supremacism is not racism, and that it is reasonable to be concerned about the advance of Islamic supremacism in the West. I don’t personally like the motto, as it is open to being misinterpreted — as Aslan does, probably willfully, here. He wants his hapless readers to believe that SIOE means that people should cultivate bigotry and hatred toward innocent Muslims, when in reality it’s quite obvious that they mean resisting the advance of the jihad. Here again, in Reza Aslan we’re not dealing here with a writer who is interested in playing fair or presenting a reasoned argument based on facts.
Geller is the real face of the organization–the queen nut of the wingnuts, if you will. Before gaining international fame as the person who almost single-handedly turned the Park51 Project into the mosque at ground zero, Geller was a journalist for the New York Daily News and former associate publisher of The New York Observer. After 9/11, she says she dedicated her life to stopping the spread of Islam in America.
Aslan drops yet another lie. Pamela Geller has never said that she dedicated her life to stopping the spread of Islam in America, and I challenge Reza Aslan to produce this “quote.” She has said that she has been dedicated to stopping the spread of political Islam in the U.S., as SIOA’s motto reflects: “SIOA is a human rights organization dedicated to freedom of speech, religious liberty, and individual rights; no special rights for special classes.” Insofar as elements of Islam are opposed to those freedoms and principles, Pamela Geller is opposed to those elements of Islam. So is Reza Aslan saying that to defend free speech and religious liberty against Sharia, which manifestly denies them both, is to oppose Islam? That would belie his vaunted “moderate” status, no?
Her blog, Atlas Shrugs, is a mishmash of her inane views on a wide range of social and political issues. However, a quick read of the blog reveals that one of her favorite topics of discussion is the “Muslim in the White House.” I’m not exaggerating. The nonpartisan media watchdog group Media Matters for America has counted 267 posts on her blog with that exact phrase.
That’s right. Geller is one of the 20 percent of Americans who believe that President Barack Obama is a secret Muslim out to destroy America from inside the White House. “Hussein is a Muhammadan,” Geller writes in one post about the president, using his middle name. Another post warns Americans that “The president of the United States is advancing jihad against the oath of office that he took.”
Pamela Geller has never said that Obama is a secret Muslim. That Obama is advancing the Islamic agenda, whether or not he is Muslim himself, is so abundantly clear from his policies, and so widely understood today, that it is rather staggering that Aslan would adduce all this as some sort of evidence that Pamela Geller is “the queen nut of the wingnuts.” He has bullied Israel, he has coddled Iran, he has said that one of his chief duties as president is to dispel stereotypes of Islam, he has made overtures to Hamas and the Taliban, he has told the NASA chief that one of his principal duties is to make Muslims feel better about themselves — on and on and on.
It should be noted that Geller is an equal-opportunity bigot, having spread her venom to her Jewish enemies as well. She has referred to Abraham Foxman, the extremely conservative, extremely pro-Israel president of the Anti-Defamation League, as “a self-hating wretch,” called the pro-Israel/pro-peace political action committee J-Street “Kapos” (the term for Jews who helped Nazis during the Holocaust), and Photoshopped a picture of Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan (who is Jewish) in a Nazi uniform on her blog.
Aslan doesn’t mention that Pamela is also Jewish, as it would interfere with the neo-Nazi smear he is trying to construct. Note also that he doesn’t explain the circumstances of any of these things, so as to give the impression further that she is antisemitic. In reality, to call Foxman “extremely conservative” is laughable, and she called him and others “self-hating wretches” for their attacks on Geert Wilders, Rush Limbaugh, evangelical Christians, and other friends of Israel. She attacked J Street for being a George Soros-funded front funded by anti-Israel Muslims. And the Kagan photoshop came after it was revealed that Kagan had cited a German Marxist who became a Nazi when Hitler took power.
Perhaps this pedigree is why the scheduled keynote speaker for the anti-Islam rally at ground zero, GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, suddenly backed out of his commitment, citing a “scheduling conflict.” Having repeatedly and unapologetically associated American Muslims with al Qaeda in his media discussions about the Park51 Project, and then having gone one step further by ratcheting his anti-Islam discourse to “the Hitler level,” as Jim Galloway put it in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Gingrich decided that it may not be the best idea for him to stand side by side with the likes of Geller and Spencer. But, if I may be allowed to conjuncture, it may be that the person Gingrich wanted most to avoid is the guest of honor at Saturday’s event–the flamboyantly fascist, anti-Muslim Dutch politician and professional provocateur Geert Wilders.
“If I may be allowed to conjecture”? This whole paragraph was conjecture. He has no evidence — nor is there any, because it isn’t true — that Gingrich backed out of the rally either because he didn’t want to be seen with us or because he didn’t want to be seen with Wilders. A responsible journalist might have contacted Gingrich and simply asked him. But we’re not talking about a responsible journalist, we’re talking about Reza Aslan, a man who confuses a freedom fighter — Wilders — with a fascist.
Wilders has made a name for himself throughout Europe both for his extreme anti-immigration policies (ironically, Wilders’ mother was born in modern day Indonesia, making him a second-generation immigrant) and his outrageous statements against Muslims. While some brand Wilders as a lunatic for his more ridiculous policies, like taxing Muslim women for the headscarf or banning the Quran from the Netherlands, his use of Islam as a scapegoat for Dutch issues–particularly the flailing economy and rising crime rate–has actually been quite successful. His political platform is a simple one: “More security, less crime, less immigration, less Islam.”
You can find an explanation of Wilders’s statements on the Qur’an banning here. Note that here Aslan is using a tried-and-true tool of the Left: to simply state their opponents’ positions (although I would doubt that his summaries of Wilders’s policies are entirely accurate) as if they were self-evidently ridiculous. It certainly saves on the time and trouble of refuting them, but the reader who sees through Aslan’s rhetoric will be left with an empty feeling: he hasn’t actually done one thing to explain why these policies, insofar as they are presented here accurately, should be rejected.
Wilders’ success in Dutch politics comes from his ability to exploit Dutch fears of economic uncertainty to make his case against Islam and Muslims. His method, as Ian Buruma pointed out in an op-ed for The New York Times, “is to expose the intolerance of Muslims by provoking them. If they react to his insults, he can claim that they are a threat to our native liberties. And if anyone should point out that deliberately giving offense to Muslims is neither the best way to lower social tensions nor to protect our freedoms, Wilders will denounce him as a typical cultural elitist collaborating with “Islamo-fascism.”
About Buruma’s comments, see Hugh Fitzgerald’s piece here.
And anyway, here again, one’s response to stimuli is under one’s own control. If you insult me, I do not have to kill you in response. Do Buruma and Reza Aslan think that Muslims are angry animals who must not be provoked, in the name of lowering social tensions? Who’s the racist now?
That is exactly the playbook of anti-Muslim groups like Stop Islamization of America: Link fear of the recession to fear of Islam. Link fear of terrorism to fear of Islam. More security = Less Islam.
Aslan retailed this farrago on the Amanpour show also. It is arrant nonsense. Here again, I challenge this miserable smear merchant to find one place where Pamela Geller or I have ever linked the recession to the global jihad. I have noted the undeniable billions that have been spent since 9/11 to protect Americans and Europeans from Aslan’s more violent coreligionists, but I’ve never said this caused the recession, and as far as I know neither has Pamela Geller. Here again, this man is a base and brazen liar.
In fact, Geller and Spencer together also run the group Freedom Defense Initiative, which, in its own words, is focused on stopping “specific Islamic supremacist initiatives in American cities” and finding “infiltrators of our federal agencies.” As one can imagine, this is a huge project: weeding out Muslim infiltrators in the U.S. government.
A misrepresentation, of course, but certainly we are concerned about infiltrators at high levels. Has Reza Aslan ever heard of Abdurrahman Alamoudi? I suspect that he has.
After all, as FDI board member Joseph Kay has said, “Every person in Islam, from man to woman to child, may be our executioner. In short, that there are no innocents in Islam … all of Islam is at war with us, and that all of Islam is/are combatant(s).[sic]”
Joseph Kay? Who the heck is Joseph Kay? Aslan, with typical attention to detail and accuracy, has thus mangled the name of John Joseph Jay, who replied to this smear here.
Therein lies the crux of the Stop Islamization argument. For Geller, Spencer, Wilders, and a growing number of Americans, there is absolutely no difference between what they term “Islamist supremacists” and any other Muslim. That is the definition of bigotry: painting 1.5 billion people across the planet with the exact same brush.
“Islamic supremacists,” not “Islamist supremacists,” you dope. And in any case, Aslan here comes to his culminating lie: that we believe that all Muslims are advancing the jihad. Here again, I challenge to find any place where I have said that, or where Pamela Geller has said that. He can’t, because we haven’t, and in fact are on record many times making the distinction between Muslims who are not advancing the jihad cause and those who are.
But why let the facts get in the way, eh, Reza?
These are the people we’re to believe are so concerned with the sanctity of ground zero that they cannot abide by the construction two blocks away of a community center dedicated to inter-religious cooperation. Yet they are willing to hijack the anniversary of a day in which inter-religious cooperation should be foremost on our minds in order to spout their vile, bigoted, and yes, un-American ideology. I can think of no greater desecration to the victims of 9/11.
And I can think of no greater desecration of journalism and academia that Reza Aslan is taken seriously.