Whether WMAL intended to or not, the station has handed CAIR arguably its biggest victory to date, and has certainly increased the legitimacy of an organization that deserves none.
It won’t just be radio talk hosts that will start feeling chilly when the topic of Islam arises. Television personalities, reporters, columnists, or anyone who works for a corporate interest that would bristle at being the target of a CAIR scare campaign would think twice before making even entirely defensible statements. It’s not inconceivable that media outlets could set up clear demarcation lines and declare certain subject matters or groups off-limits.
In fairness to WMAL, it isn’t the first conservative media outlet to bow to CAIR pressure. National Review (where this columnist once worked) earlier this year removed a book from its online bookstore deemed “bigoted” and “anti-Muslim hate” by CAIR after the group sent a threatening letter to major advertiser Boeing—which sells planes to many wealthy Arabs.
The threat of public controversy is apparently so strong that major media outlets—the top conservative talk station in the nation’s capital and the nation’s premier conservative publication—are fleeing from rather than fighting an organization replete with ripe targets.
Take your pick: CAIR’s radical roots essentially as an offshoot of a rabidly anti-Semitic organization long viewed as Hamas’ biggest political booster in the U.S., its co-founder Omar Ahmad praising suicide bombers who “kill themselves for Islam” in November 1999 (according to a transcript provided by the Investigative Project), or its repeated failure to specifically condemn radical Islam or terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah, dismissing requests to do so as a “game.”
CAIR’s key to success in spite of its ugly history is an odd combination of finesse and noise. Realizing that it needs to pass itself off as moderate, CAIR has become the master of making even intelligent people believe that they’ve condemned something when they haven’t.
Case in point: its recent fatwa against “extremism” and “terrorism.” CAIR and others came out against two terms that they intentionally didn’t define. Hamas, for example, has long maintained that it is not “terrorism” to kill Israelis because of the Jewish state’s mandatory military conscription. Last year’s CAIR-led “Not in the Name of Islam” campaign was of the same ilk.
Or when four Americans were murdered and mutilated in Fallujah last year. CAIR condemned the mutilations, but not the murders—the same exact position as a leading radical cleric in Fallujah. This was no mere semantic slip; it was the continuation of a pattern that has snookered many.
All of this information is available to media outlets subjected to a CAIR onslaught. None has yet to dig in and fight, however.
Normal debating rules argue against attacking the messenger, but is it really unfair to ask CAIR to condemn terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah before acknowledging their criticisms of even admittedly offensive speech?
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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