The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which recently tweeted that “American Sniper” Chris Kyle was a “hate-filled killer” and that those who think he’s a hero are “simplistic patriots,” has issued an open letter to 2016 Republican presidential candidates on tolerance and “how to avoid past mistakes other Republican candidates have made when making remarks about and engaging with the American Muslim community.”
The letter says the 2012 Republican presidential primaries were marked by “Islamophobic” statements from nearly all the candidates.
Promoting Islamophobia and false anti-Muslim conspiracies to prove conservative bona fides and attract support from the GOP base in a presidential bid is a failing strategy.
Making anti-Muslim remarks will not get a campaign the ‘good’ attention it needs to make a run for president. Such remarks do not go unnoticed by watchdogs and turn away independent or undecided voters.
CAIR advises Republican candidates to invest their resources “in courting Muslim voters as they do other minority communities. The American Muslim community is well positioned to impact election results in key swing states such as Ohio, Virginia and Florida.”
It is well-known that the majority of the American Muslim vote went to President George W. Bush in the close 2000 election. However, by the 2012 general election, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney only received a single digit percentage of the Muslim vote. This significant drop in Muslim support for the Republican Party can be attributed to unwillingness from Republican candidates to engage with Muslim communities, increased adoption of Islamophobic rhetoric and support for discriminatory legislation that targets foreign law, a dog whistle to the conservative base for ‘sharia law.’
The letter accuses Republicans of being “overwhelmingly responsible” for “pushing anti-Islam prejudice during past elections” and that Republican gains in the Muslim community are only possible if “sincere effort is made.” CAIR advises Republicans not to give “a platform to Islamophobia” and to hold “accountable those candidates that do use their campaigns to foster anti-Muslim sentiment.”
CAIR Isn’t Exactly Trustworthy
When it comes to giving advice about “Islamophobia,” CAIR is the last organization Republicans—or anyone, for that matter—should listen to. That’s because CAIR has been listed as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has categorized any organization critical of Islamism and Islamist extremism as either outright promoting hatred of Muslims or supporting anti-Islam themes, and has been active in shutting down free speech in the name of Islamophobia.
Last year, the UAE’s ministerial cabinet listed CAIR as one of 83 proscribed terrorist organizations. This was unexpected because CAIR and the UAE have had cooperative ties, with the UAE praising CAIR for its work and CAIR raising funds for the UAE. Additionally, the UAE has been known to promote Islamism, so it would seem odd for the UAE to label CAIR, which supports the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist organization.
The categorization, however, makes sense when you consider that the Islamist movement is fractured. As Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum writes at National Review, “Sunnis fight Shiites; advocates of violence struggle against those working within the system; modernizers do battle against those trying to return to the seventh century; and monarchists confront republicans.”
Even though the Persian Gulf monarchies have worked with the Muslim Brotherhood before, they now see it as a threat, Pipes says. “The Saudi, Emirati, Kuwaiti, and Bharaini rulers now view politicians like Mohamed Morsi of Egypt as their enemies, as they do Hamas and its progeny—including CAIR.”
The real question, though, is whether CAIR should be listed as a terrorist organization. Pipes makes the case that it should. It doesn’t set off bombs, he says, but CAIR does incite and fund terrorism.
Five Reasons CAIR Deserves a Terrorist Designation
Pipes lists five points to prove that CAIR deserves to be on the UAE terror list:
(1) CAIR apologizes for terrorist groups. Even though CAIR has spoken out against the violent acts of Hamas and Hezbollah, it has not denounced the groups themselves as terrorist organizations.
(2) CAIR is connected to Hamas, which the United States has designated as a terrorist organization. “In 1994, CAIR head Nihad Awad publicly declared his support for Hamas; the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), a Hamas front group, contributed $5,000 to CAIR; in turn, CAIR exploited the 9/11 attacks to raise money for HLF; and, this past August, demonstrators at a CAIR-sponsored rally in Florida proclaimed ‘We are Hamas!’”
(3) CAIR settled a lawsuit that accused it of being a terrorist-supporting front organization. “CAIR initiated a libel lawsuit in 2004 over five statements by a group called Anti-CAIR. But two years later, CAIR settled the suit with prejudice (meaning that it cannot be reopened), implicitly acknowledging the accuracy of Anti-CAIR’s assertions,” which included that CAIR is partially funded by terrorists, terrorist-supporting individuals, groups, and countries; it has proven links to and was founded by Islamic terrorists; and it “actively supports terrorists and terrorist supporting groups and nations.”
(4) Within CAIR’s organization are individuals who are accused of terrorism. “At least seven board members or staff at CAIR have been arrested, denied entry to the U.S., or were indicted on or pled guilty to (or were convicted of) terrorist charges.”
(5) CAIR has been named by federal prosecutors “as ‘unindicted co-conspirators and/or joint venturers’ in a criminal conspiracy to support Hamas financially. In 2008, the FBI ended contacts with CAIR because of concern about its continuing terrorist ties.”
So a Terrorist Front Group Wants to Shut Down Critics
While CAIR has shown support for terrorist organizations even while speaking out against violence, it has spent much of its money and energy going after so-called Islamic hate groups and individuals in the United States. In its recent report, “Legislating Fear: Islamophobia and Its Impact in the United States,” CAIR outlines its vision for America and the groups it sees standing in the way of that vision.
Its goal is to establish an environment in America in which “being Muslim carries a positive connotation and Islam has an equal place among many faiths in America’s pluralistic society.” Indicators of achieving that vision include Islam having 75 percent or higher favorability rating among the general public, a person’s Muslim faith being considered an asset in private employment and public service, politicians welcoming and seeking public support from Americans of the Islamic faith, and anyone associated with “anti-Muslim movements or rhetoric” being determined unfit to seek the privilege of public service.
CAIR divides organizations and individuals who are standing in the way of those goals into two groups. The “Inner Core” comprises organizations or individuals “whose primary purpose is to promote prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslims and whose work regularly demonstrates Islamophobic themes.” The “Outer Core” groups are those who might not appear to be promoting prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslims, but their work “regularly demonstrates or supports Islamophobic themes.”
Thirty-seven groups make up the Inner Core, including ACT! for America, American Freedom Law Center, David Horowitz Freedom Center, Florida Family Association, Jihad Watch, Middle East Forum, and Tennessee Freedom Coalition.
Thirty-two groups make up the Outer Core, including American Center for Law and Justice, American Family Association, Christian Broadcasting Network, Eagle Forum, Fox News, Liberty Counsel, Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, National Review, The Mark Levin Show, The Rush Limbaugh Show, The Savage Nation, Washington Times, and Worldnet Daily.
While the Tea Party is not on this list of Islamophobes, CAIR implicates Tea Parties in its report by saying the “Tea Party defeat” in recent elections is cause for optimism that Islamophobia is on the decline.
Notice Whom CAIR Hates and Loves
The report also praises some for pushing back against these “Islamophobes.” On CAIR’s “praise list” is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for speaking out following “Islamophobic criticism of his nomination of Sohail Mohammed as a New Jersey Superior Court judge.” At that time, Christie said, “This Sharia law business is just crap. It’s just crazy, and I’m tired of dealing with the crazies.”
Also on CAIR’s praise list is Political Research Associates, Washington Monthly, Wired, CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360°,” and National Public Radio, as well as People for the American Way, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Center for American Progress. All of these groups are lauded for promoting pluralism and pushing back against “Islamophobes” such as former Rep. Allen West and Herman Cain, both of whom the report accuses as inciting Islamophobia because of statements critical of Islam. West, in particular, is considered suspect by CAIR because he works with Inner Core group ACT! and has praised its leader as “incredible.”
The CAIR report finds Fox News particularly troubling, citing the Public Religion Research Institute, which made the following points about the network:
- “There is a strong correlation between trusting Fox News and negative views of Islam and Muslims. This pattern is evident even among conservative political and religious groups.”
- “Among all Republicans, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) say that Islam is at odds with American values. Among Republicans who most trust Fox News, more than 7-in-10 (72 percent) believe that Islam is at odds with American values.”
- “Among Republicans who most trust other news sources, less than half (49 percent) say Islam is at odds with American values, making their attitudes roughly similar to the general population.”
- “A similar effect can be seen in beliefs about American Muslims and the establishment of Shari’a law. Nearly 6-in-10 (58 percent) Republicans who most trust Fox News believe that American Muslims are trying to establish Shari’a law in the U.S. Again, the attitudes of Republicans who most trust other news sources look similar to the general population (33 percent and 30 percent respectively).”
The report quotes Rolling Stone, which reported that Fox News Channel President Roger Ailes might have a “personal ‘paranoia’ in regards to Muslims.”
Terrorist Supporters Shout Down Free Speech
Along with publishing these kinds of warnings about Islamophobia both in Inner and Outer Core groups, CAIR is active in shutting down the speech of anyone it has labeled anti-Muslim. CAIR was recently successful in getting a Federal Bureau of Investigation representative to withdraw from speaking at a Texas event called “Domestic Jihad & Isis,” hosted by St. Mary’s University’s Center for Terrorism Law in San Antonio, that was initially sponsored by ACT! for America. After CAIR’s protest, the event dropped ACT! as a sponsor and one of its speakers, John Guandolo, whom CAIR said was an “anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist.”
When Fox News terrorism expert Steven Emerson apologized for falsely claiming that a city in the United Kingdom is “totally Muslim, where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in,” CAIR called on FOX News to get rid of him.
“Fox News’ continued use of Islamophobes, such Steven Emerson and many others like him, only serves to harm the network’s reputation and to promote hostility toward Islam and ordinary American Muslims,” said CAIR Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia Director Corey Saylor.
CAIR has called on Oklahoma Sen. Kyle Loveless to drop a bill that states school districts will incur “no liability as a result of providing an elective course in the objective study of religion or the Bible.”
“The district and others across Oklahoma have shown interest in having such a class, as an elective, and I am just wanting to keep them from feeling threatened of lawsuit or from not offering a class such as this,” Loveless said in an email to The Huffington Post. CAIR opposes the bill, saying it is unconstitutional and a “dangerous encroachment into the separation of church and state.”
Dear CAIR: Criticizing Sharia Law and Islamism Isn’t Hate Speech
In 2013, CAIR sought to stop Brigitte Gabriel of ACT! for America from speaking at an high school in Minnesota. “As Little Falls High School would not, and should not allow a racist or an anti-Semitic speaker to use its facilities, we ask that school and district officials apply the same standard to an anti-Muslim speaker,” said CAIR-MN Executive Director Lori Saroya. “By allowing the school to host this event, the perception is that the school is endorsing hate speech and anti-Muslim views. This perception could have a negative impact on the learning environment for Muslim students.”
If there could be an “Undesirable No. 1” in CAIR’s anti-Islamophobic campaign, it would be Gabriel (with Pipes a close second). She is the founder of ACT! and one of the leading terrorism experts in the world. When asked by FrontPage Mag in 2010 why CAIR has continued its relentless attacks against her, Gabriel said the organization has taken statements she has made out of context to “create a distorted caricature” of what she believes and how she defines “the threat of radical Islam.”
Considering the list of suspects in its Inner and Outer Core, the creation of a distorted caricature seems to extend to others beyond Gabriel. Most of these groups and individuals oppose “radical Islam” and are critical of Sharia law and Islamism (not Islam). Kamal Nawash, head of Free Muslims Against Terrorism, has said that CAIR condemns terrorism on the surface, but it endorses an ideology that fosters extremism, adding that “almost all of their members are theocratic Muslims who reject secularism and want to establish Islamic states.”
As Republican candidates gear up for the GOP primary and then the general election, caricatures by CAIR are the last thing they need to consider. Instead of folding under the pressure of political correctness, GOP candidates need to make a stand along with moderate Muslims who reject Islamism in all its forms. If CAIR wants to call that Islamophobic, so be it.