Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Neocon Pundits Malign American Muslims: All Faiths Must Face their Demons

Three militant neocon pundits spoke vehemently against the Bush administration’s gesture to include American Muslim leaders in discussions on how to deal with the rising tide of anti-Americanism and to restore the level of trust and support the United States enjoyed prior to the missteps the administration took under the neocons’ urging.

Frank Gaffney issued a warning to Karen Hughes, the newly appointed Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy, demanding that she does not attend the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Convention. Ignoring the false alarm he set in a recent op-ed piece in the Washington Times, Ms. Hughes met with Muslim leaders and discussed her ideas for bridging the deepening divide between the United States and Muslim countries.

Gaffney told Hughes point bank: “Don’t go there.” Joel Mowbray, another neocon who is apparently more aware of the tactics of misinformation, gave her the benefit of the doubt, allowing her to make one mistake for one time: “Given that it is highly unlikely Hughes knew exactly what she was walking into, she deserves the benefit of the doubt—this time”

Gaffney belongs to a small but vocal group of militant pundits, driven by deep seated hate of Islam and Muslims, and bent on maligning Muslim leaders and organizations in a bid to marginalize and isolate mainstream American Muslims. Gaffney joined two other well known Muslim Bashers, Daniel Pipes and Joel Mowbray, in demonizing ISNA and the leaders of the national Muslim organizations that met Ms. Hughes.

Utilizing several conservative publications, including the Washington Times, the trio leveled serious allegations against mainstream Muslim organizations, accusing them of supporting terrorism and promoting radicalism. Using quotes taken out of context, guilt by association, errors of fact, and innuendo, the group has been active in feeding lies to the public and inciting government officials and law enforcement agencies to conduct investigations, and then use these investigations as a basis for further maligning law-abiding and patriot American Muslims.

Pipes accused , last year, the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) of being “part of the militant Islamist lobby," and contended that it was “well-disguised, and has brought in all the Islamist trends, giving them a patent of respectability."

After conducting a thorough investigation of Pipes’s accusations, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) issued a statement that brought out the irresponsible nature of Pipes’s attacks. “The Institute was aware of and took seriously the accusations made against CSID and some of the speakers at the event,” Kay King, the director of Congressional and Public Affairs at USIP wrote. “These allegations were investigated carefully with credible private individuals and U.S. government agencies,” she went on, “and found to be without merit. The public criticism of CSID and the speakers was found to be based on quotes taken out of context, guilt by association, errors of fact, and innuendo.”

Gaffney, likewise, used misinformation and errors of fact to justify his demands that the Bush administration isolate the most inclusive and mainstream Muslim convention. He contended, in a recent article, that the Senate Finance Committee “listed ISNA as one of 25 American Muslim organizations that ‘finance terrorism and perpetuate violence.’" He, however, failed to disclose that the Finance Committee never found ISNA guilty of such allegations and that his reference relates to a letter sent by the committee chairman and the ranking member on December 22, 2003, asking the IRS to investigate Muslim charities for possible links to terrorist financing. 18 months have lapsed since February 20, 2004, the deadline set for the investigation, with no action, or even a congressional hearing conducted by the Finance Committee on the matter.

Mowbray, employing the same tactic of half-truths, quotes taken out of context, and innuendo, cited a Freedom House study that found Saudi publications in twelve mosques—out of 3500 throughout the country—that made bigoted references to followers of other religions. What Mowbray omits is the fact that the Freedom House, responding to complaints by American Muslim leaders of the misleading nature of the report's title, stressed that their study was intended to uncover the bigotry of the Saudi publications, and was never intended to implicate US mosques. The Freedom House went a step further and invited two of ISNA leaders to a meeting for consultation on its report and to explore the question of religious extremism.

These shameless attempts by Gaffney, Mowbray, and Pipes to malign mainstream Muslim organizations and leaders are not driven by rational and objective considerations, but by paranoia, prejudice, and irrational fear of Islam and Muslims. Such irrational and emotional anti-Muslim postures can only confuse the pubic and confound the fight on terrorism with the fight on Islam, and hence plays to the hands of the anti-American pundits who thrive on the missteps, and counterproductive actions and postures, urged by Gaffney and his ilk.

Mainstream American Muslims have already taken a principled and firm position against the senseless killings of unarmed and defenseless civilians. But their ability to succeed in drying the swamp of extremism that feeds into terrorist attacks can only succeed if the Jewish and Christian communities confront their bigots and extremists, and dry the ponds of bigotry in their midst.

It is heartening to realize that most Americans are able to see through the militant pundits’ paranoia and bigotry, as Karen Hughes has amply demonstrated when she ignored the false alarm they set off on the eve of her meeting with Muslim leaders during ISNA convention.

This article appeared in the following publications:

Aljazeera Magazine
American Muslim Perspective
Official Wire
Middle East Online
The Milli Gazette
The Muslim Boserver
Naseeb Vibes
Washington Report
Washington Times
The American Muslim


Hatem Abunimeh said...

They obviously have nothing else to do, they thrive on bashing Islam and Muslims, it is their bread and butter, and guess what it sells. Despite all the sincere attempts by the main stream Muslims to polish the image of Islam, nothing seems to be working. Everything bad that is happening around the globe is being blamed on the Muslims, heck, even the Increase in gasoline prices at the pump is being blamed on the Muslims. Soldiers getting killed in Iraq and Afghanistan is being blamed on Muslims. It seems like Islam has become a convenient scapegoat. I know for a fact that none of these neocons will let go of this easy sell topic any time soon. If they can get their jollies on it they are going to keep going. The only thing that will stop them is when the issue run out of its fifteen minute fame and people stop showing interest in wanting to learn about it, otherwise, they will keep on going and going and going, something like the energizer batteries commercial.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to break it to you, but it is not these people which is causing Islam to be perceived as it is, but those who choose to use Islam to pursue their political agendas (which are generally anethema to western societies).

Moderates need to spend less time doing rearguard action and more time making efforts to clean house. Only then will the west be capable of making the distinctions it should between the fascists and the moderate believers.

Unfortunately, sometimes it is the rotten million that ruin it for the other 100 million, and that seems to be the way Islam is going nowadays. Blaming those who focus on the very significant radical Islamofascist element within Islam (and in control of many mosques all over the world), using the kind of reverse-speak that would make Orwell proud (these are now "militant" neo-cons :) ) will not make things any better, but rather will just help mobilize the Muslim population towards more extreme views.

Which, I suspect, is what the author of this article really wants.

Anonymous said...

It's really a funny opinion. Meanwhile 100 of thousands of muslims flock to US. But still do not like US policies, it's culture, it's way of life. For that matter also to Europe. If you do not like it just go back to where you came from and enjoy life there.

Islam incompatible with teh West and cannot coinside with it.


Anonymous said...

"It is really a funny opinion," Steve (Comment #33629). What about those Muslims who know no other country as home besides America? I'm not just talking about second- or third-generation Americans, I'm talking about Americans who faintly remember where they come from and they happen to be Muslims who disagree with some of the foreign policies of their government, where do you want them to go to, Steve? Correspondingly, where do you think people like Cindy Sheehan should go to? You sound so un-American that I am in fact beginning to wonder whether you are an American. Because America tolerates opposing views, she is right to pride herself as the greatest democracy on the surface of Planet Earth. I think we should leave it that way, Steve. America is a nation of immigrants and that fact has not changed. It is just that some immigrants came earlier than others and the earlier immigrants set rules for incoming immigrants. That's it, Steve; so get off that high horse you are riding. Thanks.


Anonymous said...

As an Amreican and a recent convert to Islam (I took shahada last year) I believe I have some insight to this issue: most Americans a very misinformed about Islam, the Islamic world, and the history and current activities of the US, UK, etc there.

I'll give you an example: I took it upon myself to tell my co-workers that Muslim nations collectively gave over $600 million worth of aid to the New Orleans victims. This was far and away beyond what any so-called western power has given. Even Kosovo gave $300,000 (this touched me deeply). You know what? None of them knew. You know why? Because Muslim terrorists sell news, not Muslim philanthropists. I'm afraid that this is the tip of a very big iceberg.

I've told many about the history of Iraq (the UK invaded there in 1923 and made promises that sound eerily similar to those being voiced today), about Iran (the deposition of Mossadegh's government in 1953 by the US), etc. When informed, I've found that many were surprised, did not know, and were much more likely to listen to reason and hear our side.

I've seen many here comment about the biased content of Fox News, etc, but to my mind, the real problem isn't the TV stations, its all the arch-conservative AM radio shows playing all over the country. People listen to these every day as they drive to and from work, and have the illusion that, as a result, they are well-inormed about things. It's amazing, really.

My suggestion is that we go beyond TV stations that no one here can get anyway (Al-Jazeera, etc) and start our own radio station. Radio Islam America, man, what do you say?

Wa Laikum Salaam Jazak Allah AL-keir


Anonymous said...

I am a reader from Singapore and i totally agree with Bro Peter. In fact, misinformation is not exclusive in America but is apparent anywhere else in the world and as such Islam gets distorted by the masses. Well, the obvious conduit is media and Muslims do not have any strong hold in media. I think, Muslims should up our efforts in propagating the true face of Islam through the media i.e. radio, television etc. It's a long term vision which will not propel instant results, but InsyaAllah it can be done.
Ramadhan Mubarak.