CAIR's complaints about DVD hollow

Fringe group not worth notice media gives it

Rocky Mountain News, Oct. 4, 2008

Suppose the Ku Klux Klan demanded that the Rocky Mountain News, The Denver Post, and elected officials in Colorado apologize because the media and the elected officials strongly criticized white racist extremists who perpetrate crimes of terrorism. Suppose the KKK claimed that criticism of white terrorists was a form of inciting hatred against white people.

I suspect the Denver papers would not bother to report the Klan's criticisms, even if the Klan styled itself as a civil rights organization, and described itself as the leading national organization speaking on behalf of white people. For many of the same reasons that the papers don't cover the Klan's claims that the civil rights of white people are being violated, the papers should stop wasting space on the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

In mid-September, The Sunday Denver Post, like many other papers around the country, included a paid advertising supplement - the DVD movie Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West.

CAIR complained, and the Denver dailies covered the complaint. But the complaint was preposterous on its face, because CAIR asserted that the nonprofit that paid for the distribution of the movie had violated its tax-exempt status because the movie would help the John McCain campaign. The 2005 movie neither endorsed nor even mentioned any 2008 candidate, leaving the movie very safely within IRS guidelines.

CAIR has also denounced Obsession as anti-Islam hate speech. To the contrary, the movie begins by explaining that most Muslims do not agree with the violent jihadis. To be sure, the movie also asserts that about 10 percent to 15 percent of Muslims globally do support terrorism. But the assertion is credible, in light of polls such as the Pew Global Attitudes Project. That poll, released a few weeks ago, shows that Muslim support for Osama bin Laden or for suicide terrorist attacks is at least 10 percent to 20 percent.

Most of the movie warns of the deadly threat of violent Islamic extremists, and consists of extensive footage of those extremists explicitly describing their plans to wage war on the West in furtherance of their goal of imposing their totalitarian vision on the whole world.

CAIR's complaint seems to be that merely calling attention to Islamic terrorists defames Muslims. But of course the movie sharply and repeatedly differentiates the Muslim majority from the violent minority, shows clips of interviews with moderate Muslims, and never claims that terrorist violence is intrinsic to Islam.

Despite often credulous media treatment, CAIR it not what it claims to be. Although CAIR presents itself as America's largest civil rights group for Muslims, The Washington Times has reported, CAIR's membership has plunged 90 percent since 9/11. As of 2006, the group had only 1,700 members - while the U.S. Muslim population is several million.

Within a few days after 9/11, moreover, USA Today was quoting CAIR's national civil rights coordinator, Randall Royer, warning about anti-Muslim backlash from prejudiced Americans. At the same time, Royer was participating in a conspiracy to help get four jihadis into a terrorist training camp in Pakistan. Royer eventually pleaded guilty to carrying an explosive while committing a felony and using a firearm in a crime of violence.

Several other CAIR personnel have been convicted of crimes or deported because of involvement in or links to extremist activities.

CAIR calls itself "mainstream" and "moderate." Yet Web sites such as the Middle East Forum (run by Daniel Pipes) and Anti-CAIR (run by Andrew Whitehead, who was unsuccessfully sued for libel by CAIR) convincingly detail CAIR as a front organization for Saudi Wahhabism, and as a fifth column for extremism. The Council for Democracy and Tolerance, Free Muslims Against Terrorism, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, and the Center on Islamic Pluralism have denounced CAIR for supporting totalitarian theocracy, and for bogus civil rights claims in the service of violent jihad. CAIR even said that the prosecution of Sheik Omar Abdul-Rahman for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center was an example of anti-Muslim bias.

To be clear, I'm not saying that papers should exclude viewpoints from American Muslims, or stories about discrimination against Muslims, or strong criticism of Israel, or of American foreign policy. Nor I am I saying that CAIR shouldn't be mentioned when it is actually a part of a news story. For example, CAIR lawyers are representing Muslim workers in Greeley who were fired because they walked off the job after the Swift meatpacking plant refused to change break times to accommodate Ramadan observances.

But when the story is nothing more than CAIR announcing it is offended about something, the announcement does not deserve an inch of the increasingly scarce news space in the papers.

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