Just over 24 hours before a scheduled speech it hosted by commentator Robert Spencer, Young America’s Foundation found something unexpected sitting in the fax machine: A thinly veiled threat of a lawsuit if the group allowed the talk to happen as planned.
Near the end of the one-page missive is the rather unsubtle sentence: “Our clients have instructed us to pursue every available and appropriate legal remedy to redress any false and defamatory statements that are made at the session.”
Although YAF, which is the nation’s largest conservative group catering to high school and college students, is used to campus leftists attempting to silence the right-wing speakers it helps sponsor, the apparent lawsuit threat likely came as a shock.
The attempted bullying, however, comes as little surprise to anyone familiar with the organization behind the move: CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
For years, CAIR has attempted to stifle debate and prevent inquiry into the domestic spread of radical Islam. Conservative columnist Cal Thomas was the latest target, when CAIR attempted to drum him out of his role as an official commentator at WTOP radio in Washington, D.C. The group was emboldened by its success in the same city two years earlier, when it got then-Disney-owned WMAL to can talk host Michael Graham. Similar such smear campaigns are legion.
If only CAIR could muster the same contempt—or any contempt, for that matter—for Islamic terrorists.
Contrary to the letter’s claim that the group “has consistently taken a principled position against terrorism and extremism,” CAIR simply has not done so. Never has CAIR condemned by name Islamic terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah. Given the opportunity to condemn Hamas by Newsweek last December, CAIR executive director and co-founder Nihad Awad refused, claiming that the question was “the game of the pro-Israel lobby.”
While CAIR incessantly hypes its 2005 fatwa against terrorism and extremism, the document intentionally avoided defining the two terms. Fundamentalist Muslims who wish harm upon the U.S. and Israel do not consider themselves “extreme.” Nor do Hezbollah and Hamas believe that they are terrorists.
This is CAIR’s modus operandi: appearing to oppose terrorism, while simultaneously leading the charge against those who actually seek to thwart it.
Its approach to the lecture circuit is no different.
Spencer, who has courted controversy with his JihadWatch.org web site and his best-selling book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam, is a genuinely provocative figure with whom reasonable people can disagree. There’s little doubt, however, that he is a legitimate contributor to the public debate.
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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