Neil MacFarquhar wrote an article for the NYT on CAIR under fire. It had a strong penchant for the “anti-McCarthy” approach (also CAIR’s) in which “the current climate” makes any Muslim suspicious, implicitly criticizing those who denounce them. On the other hand, it is very short on the substance behind accusations. So it throws out terms like Wahabbi without defining them (yes, they’re radical, but no idea what that means in terms of ideological hostility to the very principles of civil society and human rights, which is, after all, the point of the post).
Protein Wisdom has a good post on the body of the text, including some interesting remarks about MacFarquhar’s record as a Mideast journalist.
The piece concludes with some remarks about CAIR by “moderate” and “secular” Muslims:
Some Muslims, particularly the secular, find CAIR overly influenced by Saudi religious interpretations, criticizing it for stating in news releases, for example, that all Muslim women are required to veil their hair when the matter is openly debated.
But they still support its civil rights work and endorse the idea of anyone working to make American Islam a more integral part of society. One Arab-American advocate compared CAIR to “the tough cousin who curses at anyone who speaks badly about the family.”
This is endearing, but deceptive. The overwhelming evidence is that CAIR is a demopathic organization, a sympathizer and apologist for jihad (which, at least in its current form, thrives on terror), and an active agent for an Islamist agenda to Islamize the world. The evidence hardly supports the notion that CAIR is “trying to make American Islam a more integral part of society.” On the contrary, it seems like an organization dedicated to making American society more Islamic. Any member of civil society who wants civil rights guaranteed all around (the only way to go), cannot responsibly favor an organization that militates only for the civil rights of its own members and support forces aimed at depriving others of their rights.
These American Muslim moderates seem, at best, to be willing dupes of these demopaths — we don’t agree with some of their religious stuff (the veil! come on, that’s just the tip of the iceberg of theocracy) — but we do agree with their civil rights work. That’s classic free-rider stuff. We like them when they do stuff for us, we look the other way when they do the “other” stuff. On the contrary, the major voice against CAIR should be American Muslims who are prepared to live in the world of modern civil societies and recognize that the “helping hand” CAIR offers to the larger Muslim community is a predatory talon. Calling them “the tough cousin” is just a euphemism used to keep the problem hidden “within the family.”
If this were just some blowhard cousin venting steam, okay. But we have too much experience of how readily Muslim “rage” at being criticized translates into violence.
Now we move into MacFarquhar’s finale — the classic tropes of the “liberal’s” criticism of criticizing Islam.
Some activists and academics view the controversy surrounding the group as typical of why Washington fails so often in the Middle East, while extremism mushrooms.
Let me see if I can unpack that statement (which we see in the remaining paragraph never gets explained). By attacking a “moderate” group like CAIR, Washington (here a euphemism for the Bush administration), with its characteristic McCarthyite paranoia, ends up alienating the moderates and provoking the extremists. The combination of “some activists and academics” here is revealing. The PCP2 folks, ripe for being duped by demopaths, insist that any organization that says it’s moderate — and militating for human rights too boot! — should be taken at face value. (They’re just like us.) Any one questioning them is a McCarthyite, racist, Islamophobe, and if the situation gets worse, it’s their fault.
This is a bit like making the pope responsible for the violence of Muslims when he quoted a 14th century Christian saying Islam is a violent religion. It’s the placating instinct of our “civilized” and “morally evolved” intelligentsia that feels that we should do everything we can not to provoke Muslims, what the French Jews call “l’esprit munichois” — the spirit of Munich. The fact that “activists” (read demopaths) and “academics” (read dupes) are on the same page here makes perfect sense. It’s the classic Moebius strip of cognitive egocentrism — they lie, we don’t want to provoke them by challenging them and appearing “racist.” They win.
Accordingly MacFarquhar closes with a spokesman from a mosque that he tells us is “moderate.” (Indeed the man has confronted radical Muslims because he believes in an Islam that is the religion of peace.) But this particular quote offers us the comments of an apologist, not a real moderate.
“How far are we going to keep going in this endless circle: ‘You are a terrorist!’ ‘No, you are a terrorist!’? ” said Souleiman Ghali, one of the founders of a moderate San Francisco mosque. “People are paying a price for that.”
So what’s that supposed to mean? There are no terrorists? We shouldn’t call anyone a terrorist? How about “ending” the circle by defining terrorism in such a way that a) the definition applies to everyone — even those who attack Israeli civilians, and b) defining groups that apologize for terrorists and support the agendas of terrorists as radical, unreliable, and “to be avoided.” It’s not like people are locking up Muslims for being members of CAIR. CAIR wants more than the right to exist and say what it believes.
CAIR wants respectability. It wants to be taken seriously, to advise the FBI, to mediate between the government and American Muslims. They need to earn those privileges, not demand them, and then accuse anyone who gets in the way of being Islamophobic.
And once again, our beloved NYT tells us the story in ways that misinform, mislead, and focus on politically correct approaches rather than the substance of the criticism, sewing back up the fraying ends of the Moebius strip that’s paralyzing our ability to think clearly and defend our civil society — and the human rights it’s committed to — from the attack it’s under.
Another failing grade.