Washington, D.C. talk radio station WMAL, 630 AM, has caved to pressure from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a group that has savaged journalists, critics of radical Islam, even the Fox TV show “24”—but which just as steadfastly has refused to specifically condemn various Islamic terrorist organizations.
After a three-week suspension, mid-morning host Michael Graham was fired over the weekend for his comment on July 21 that “Islam has, sadly, become a terrorist organization.” According to a formal statement issued by the host last night, Disney-owned WMAL terminated him for the original remarks and his refusal to apologize for them.
The latest development in the month-long saga is surprising given that there was barely a stir for the first few days after Graham’s original remarks—and he wasn’t suspended until a week later, on July 28. Once he was suspended—which happened as a result of a CAIR-led campaign—the group instigated a campaign to have him fired.
In the week before the suspension, CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper even came on Graham's show—telling him that CAIR didn’t want him fired, just punished. Once Graham was suspended indefinitely later that week, however, CAIR quickly called for his head.
In buckling to pressure from CAIR, WMAL has sided with an organization that continually demonizes genuine criticism of radical Islam as “Islamophobia” and has never specifically condemned radical Islam or Islamic terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah.
And in the process, the radio station arguably has given CAIR its biggest coup to date.
Not only did WMAL side with organization with three former officials who have been convicted, arrested, or deported on terror-related charges, but it demanded an apology for comments that were far from flippant and were not beyond the pale. The surrounding statements made by Graham, in fact, put the thrust of his comments in an entirely different light.
Here are Graham’s remarks, with full context:
Because of the mix of Islamic theology that—rightly or wrongly—is interpreted to promote violence, added to an organizational structure that allows violent radicals to operate openly in Islam’s name with impunity, Islam has, sadly, become a terrorist organization. It pains me to say it. But the good news is it doesn’t have to stay this way, if the vast majority of Muslims who don’t support terror will step forward and re-claim their religion.
Plenty of people can—and do—take issue with the framing of the religion itself as a “terrorist organization.” But his surrounding comments have more than a ring of truth. Islamic theology is used to promote violence. And in many parts of the world, radicals have taken control of Islam—and the moderates have been effectively silenced.
And Graham’s desire that moderates re-claim control of Islam is shared by many, though likely not by CAIR or groups of its ilk.
CAIR was founded in 1994 by two former high-ranking officials with the Islamic Association of Palestine, a rabidly anti-Semitic organization known as Hamas’ biggest political booster in the United States.
Since 9/11, CAIR officials have been careful to avoid the appearance that they support Islamic terrorism. But not before 9/11. In November 1999, CAIR President Omar Ahmad addressed a youth session at the IAP annual convention in Chicago, where he praised suicide bombers who “kill themselves for Islam”: “Fighting for freedom, fighting for Islam – that is not suicide. They kill themselves for Islam.” (Transcript provided by the Investigative Project.)
Though CAIR’s mission is not to serve as an overt Hamas partisan, the organization has refused to specifically condemn the terrorist organization. Ditto for Hezbollah, which is responsible for murdering more Americans than any other terrorist group besides al Qaeda. And CAIR refused to condemn bin Laden or al Qaeda by name until three months after 9/11.
The Washington Post in November 2001 asked a CAIR spokesman to condemn Hamas or Islamic Jihad. He refused, explaining, “It’s not our job to go around denouncing.” Asked a similar question about Hamas and Hezbollah by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in February 2002, Hooper called such queries a “game” and added, “We’re not in the business of condemning.”
Of course, CAIR is very much “in the business of condemning.” The group gleefully slams critics of radical Islam, television shows, and talk radio hosts. But when it comes to Islamic terrorist organizations or prominent Muslims who endorse terrorism or embrace radical Islam, CAIR’s silence is deafening.
To provide cover—and further perpetuate the myth that CAIR and other American Muslim organizations are genuinely “moderate”—various fundamentalist Muslim leaders recently issued a fatwa against “extremism” and “terrorism.” It was classic CAIR obfuscation: it condemned terms that were intentionally not defined. Not coincidentally, no terrorist organizations were named. Sadly, many media outlets were snookered.
WMAL now appears to be the most recent media outlet duped by CAIR. The station, for its part, refused comment last week before Graham had been fired. No one at WMAL could be reached for comment over the weekend.
The station’s defense would likely be that it gave the host an out by allowing him to apologize. But as Graham notes, “WMAL wouldn’t be asking for apology without CAIR’s pressure. And if I apologize, then I’m admitting that I’m a bigot and wrong. I am neither.”
Now that CAIR can claim success in ousting Graham, it’s only a matter of time before the group launches its next smear campaign. There’s no telling who would be CAIR’s next target, though it is clear who it would not be.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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