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Preaching tolerance but never practicing it


Preaching tolerance but never practicing it

Andrew E. Harrod

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) leaders have a peculiar way of expressing their oft-preached virtues of inclusion, pluralism, and participation, as shown by a recent videoed October 10 CAIR panel on “Anti-Muslim Bias in Politics.” CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw specifically asked this Middle East Forum reporter to leave this “private event” –broadcast online – in an act of censorship that indicates why repressive Islamists deserve no power. If CAIR can’t abide a modicum of political pluralism at a public event, why should anyone believe their platitudes about liberty and equality?

This expulsion made ironic the comments by McCaw and his CAIR colleagues in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill during this sparsely attended event.  He spoke of “open conversations” in which “we are going to encourage audience members to ask questions.” CAIR Research and Advocacy Director Abbas Barzegar similarly stated that “we are trying to make this as comfortable as possible, as relaxed as possible” with a “moderated talk show-style conversation.” CAIR’s panel instead presented dubious boilerplate cries of victimization that have filled innumerable similar events, even as anti-Semitic hate crimes are consistently more prevalent than anti-Muslim hate crimes. Reading somewhat awkwardly from his smartphone notes, McCaw claimed that “anti-Muslim bigotry inside the United States and Europe has risen consistently over the last two decades.” Such bigotries have “now just become a part of the mainstream American political experience” and “fit in a larger historical frame of xenophobia and social discord.”

McCaw’s CAIR colleague, Zainab Arain, similarly condemned an “increasing institutionalization of Islamophobia within the government” and the “increasing number of anti-Muslim bigots” in Donald Trump’s Administration. Barzegar’s “esteemed mentor and friend,” the Saudi-funded Georgetown University professor and Islamist apologist John Esposito, scorned “card-carrying bigots” like “Pamela Geller and her tribe.” He ominously stated that a “tsunami wave” of hate crime violence and legal challenges have hit American mosques even as mosque construction has boomed in recent decades.

Esposito reiterated the trope that an “enormous amount of money” of “hundreds of millions of dollars have been funneled” into “Islamophobia” groups, with “more than a billion dollars in revenue,” according to Arain. “There is nothing, as it were, on the other side that has anything like that” Esposito fantasized. In reality, an entire leftist industry fights “Islamophobia,” including CAIR and Georgetown’s Bridge Initiative (BI), an Islamist propaganda program that Esposito heads. Nonetheless, he bemoaned that BI, a “fairly robust operation,” has only about eight staff even as he commended that well-oiled leftist attack machine, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

In contrast, Esposito and his fellow panelists dismissed any scrutiny of Islamist threats and claimed American concerns over sharia subversion of free societies involved “fabricating an issue.” Statements from CAIR officials and significant Muslim support for sharia around the world, including the United Kingdom, reveal the emptiness of his claim that no American Muslims desire sharia.

McCaw meanwhile cavalierly rejected former congresswoman Michelle Bachman’s “false conspiracy theories” about Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s longtime aide with numerous Islamist ties. Arain likewise did not explain why it is necessarily “improper and inappropriate questioning” for the FBI and border authorities to ask Muslims “whom do you know” and “what mosque do you attend.” Barzegar repeated the old myth that an Iranian-American terrorist who wounded nine people in 2006 by ploughing his car into a crowd at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill was “mentally disturbed.”

Barzegar attacked Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programs as a “very aggressive securitization and deputization of our entire civil society space.” Even these politically correct approaches to Islamism under the Obama administration displeased him, as he claimed CVE addressed a “manufactured problem.” Barzegar therefore praised as a “victory” the withdrawal of Los Angeles city authorities from CVE programs.

He then falsely cast himself as a source of enlightenment to “Islamophobic” people who are often “motivated by fear and ignorance in a very innocent way” and “associate Muslims with an existential threat.” Barzegar cited the thesis of his colleagues at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), led by the Esposito protégé Dahlia Mogahed, that personal contact with Muslims decreases negative attitudes towards Islam. He thus advocated “grassroots activity, interfaith coalitions” that would presumably involve ISPU’s proposed “rainbow coalition” of leftists.

Pleasant-sounding statements by Esposito on confronting “across the board racism” were no more credible. Although McCaw asserted that American Muslims involved in the political process want to “make America great for everyone,” the Anti-Defamation League has documented CAIR’s “anti-Israel agenda.” Not surprisingly, the Hamas-derived CAIR likes “to partner with various anti-Israel groups that seek to isolate and demonize the Jewish State,” including slandering Israel as “apartheid.”

With deceptive cheerfulness, McCaw concluded the panel by offering free tickets to the audience and any congressional staff to CAIR’s annual banquet. CAIR has previously expressly disinvited this reporter (who witnessed McCaw receive a warning from Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) for disrupting a Senate hearing) from that event. Reflecting their supremacist ideology, CAIR’s insular Islamists reserve their charm for useful idiots while excluding serious critics who refuse to play along with their hypocritical, one-sided demands for respect. CAIR’s panel shows once more that behind the facade of freedom, “jihadists in suits” do not play by parliamentary rules, but pursue power ruthlessly and bully detractors while chanting the mantras of academic victimology studies. They have earned our contempt, not our trust.

Andrew E. Harrod is a Campus Watch Fellow, freelance researcher, and writer who holds a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a J.D. from George Washington University Law School. He is a fellow with the Lawfare Project. Follow him on Twitter at @AEHarrod.

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