Rich Tucker

Paul Harvey frequently observes, “Self-government won’t work without self-discipline.” But these days, those who aren’t interested in self-discipline want to discipline others -- including Paul Harvey.

The venerable radio commentator drew the ire of the Washington-based advocacy group Council on American-Islamic Relations earlier this month when he aired a segment on cockfighting in Iraq. After explaining that Saddam Hussein had allowed blood sports to provide an outlet for his repressed people, Harvey finished one of his commentary segments by saying, “add to the thirst for blood a religion which encourages killing, and it is entirely understandable if Americans came to this bloody party unprepared.”

CAIR swung into action.

The organization issued an “Action Alert” on its Web site Dec. 5, demanding an apology. “We had hoped that a respected broadcast professional like Mr. Harvey would not join the growing number of Islamophobic hate-mongers in our society,” intoned CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.

CAIR makes a living exposing supposed “Islamophobics.” It has also criticized Dr. Laura Schlessinger for what it called an “anti-Muslim tirade,” and urged the Senate to reject Daniel Pipes’ nomination to the board of the United States Institute of Peace. CAIR calls Pipes a “Muslim-basher.”

But while CAIR is lashing out at critics of Islam, it hasn’t spent enough time condemning the terrorists who have hijacked that faith.

In fact, until recently, CAIR had a suspected terrorist-supporter right in its midst. Last month Bassem Khafagi, former community affairs director for the organization, pled guilty to bank and visa fraud. The FBI says Khafagi is also a member of the Islamic Assembly of North America, which is under investigation as a possible terrorist group.
Khafagi will be deported to Egypt.

Also, CAIR’s executive director Nihad Awad declared in 1994 that since the Palestinian Liberation Organization had opened peace talks with Israel, he would now “support the Hamas movement more than the PLO.”

Hamas, of course, is a terrorist organization, dedicated to replacing democratic Israel with an Islamic Palestinian nation. It launches attacks on Israelis, and has killed untold numbers of people in the name of Islam.

CAIR’s spokesman Hooper insists that Awad’s statement was made before Hamas was declared a terrorist organization, and before it had carried out any suicide bombings. In fact, he says, CAIR doesn’t support Hamas, and the only time
CAIR even mentions the organization is “to refute inflammatory allegations of this type.”

However, as recently as Sept. 10, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., highlighted Awad’s on-going support of Hamas after Awad turned down a request to appear before a Senate subcommittee on terrorism. “People who were invited to the hearings today but declined to testify also have intimate connections with Hamas,” Schumer said. “I wish they had taken us up on our invitation so that they could explain themselves.”

Instead of strongly condemning terrorists, CAIR attempts to bully anyone who is at all critical of Islam. For example, CAIR urged supporters to contact Harvey and complain about the broadcast. As it frequently does, the organization provided a link to his e-mail address. However, when CAIR is on the receiving end of public comment, it’s not always so enthusiastic.

Back in April 2002, CAIR posted an on-line poll asking if Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon should be charged with war crimes. 94 percent of some 500 voters said “Yes.” Until, that is, famed blogger Glenn Reynolds referred to the poll on his Instapundit Web site.

Within hours, more than 10,000 people had voted in the poll, and 94 percent were against trying Sharon. Faced with such a public outcry, CAIR claimed its site had been hijacked, and took the poll down. Like too many pressure organizations, CAIR can dish it out, but can’t take it. They simply don’t have the self-discipline.

As a postscript, Paul Harvey did issue an apology, of sorts. “Islam is a religion of peace,” he said, and “terrorists do not represent Islam.”

But Harvey shouldn’t have apologized. Muslims like the folks at CAIR frequently tell us that Islam is supposed to be a religion of peace. But at the same time, Islamic militants are carrying out suicide attacks in Turkey, in Israel and in Iraq. Those militants are, unfortunately, acting in the name of Islam. And they’re virtually alone in that. While members of other faiths occasionally launch acts of terror, radical Muslims carry out the overwhelming majority of such attacks.

 It’s the terrorists who have, sadly, transformed Islam into a bloody religion. It’s not wrong to point that out. In fact, we should repeatedly do so, until Muslims like those at CAIR take more vigorous actions to reclaim their faith from the real threat: Terrorists.


Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for Townhall.com.