He accused me of bigotry and of twisting his words, so I invited him to join me on my radio show and address my listeners across the country, assuring him that I was as eager to confront bigotry as he was and assuring him that I would give him a fair hearing with the opportunity to clear up any alleged misrepresentation. He declined, writing that he cannot trust having any conversation with me.
Who was this leader and why would he pass up an opportunity to clear the air, especially with such suspicion of Muslims in America today?L
He is none other than Hussam Ayloush, the Los Angeles Director for CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
In the aftermath of the San Bernardino massacre, he categorically condemned the killings and stated emphatically that they had no connection to real Islam. He also stated that the United States was “partially” responsible for these kinds of terrorist acts, saying, “Let’s not forget that some of our own foreign policy, as Americans, as the West, have fueled that extremism.”
His comments were reported on major news sites like Breitbart.com, and in my article, “6 Bizarre Reactions to San Bernardino,” I repeated his comments, without mentioning his condemnation of the attacks, since that was not the focus of the article. But I linked directly to the video of his CNN interview where he made his comments and also condemned the attacks.
In response to my article, he posted on my Facebook page, “I don’t usually reply to bigotry, but I want to give readers the benefit of the doubt that they are not bigoted and that they might actually be interested in hearing the exact comment rather than the twisted one.”
He then provided a link to expose my alleged “bigotry” – the very same link I provided in my article.
Perhaps, then, the problem was not my article but his comments, which I did not twist and which I said were very poorly timed? And perhaps an American Muslim leader would be wise to avoid throwing around charges of “bigotry” against those who challenge his perspective?
I responded to him immediately, writing, “Thank you so much for taking the time to reply, and I am as eager to confront bigotry as you are, sir. Would you care to join me on my radio show next week to address my listeners across the nation? I have grave concerns about CAIR, which I have aired publicly, but I will absolutely give you a fair hearing, I will allow you to share your position, and if you feel I have misrepresented you or CAIR, I will give you the opportunity to share that. And I would be delighted if you renounce radical Islam without qualification on my airways. Shall we begin a dialogue, Mr. Ayloush? (Please write to *****@askdrbrown.org if you would like to take me on up on my offer. This is not a trap!)”
He replied, “Dr. Brown, judging by the way you deliberately misquoted me and misrepresented my position of unequivocally condemning all acts of terror and their perpetrators into making it into ‘It's America's fault’, I cannot trust having any conversation with you. Good luck to you. If you are interested in knowing my views on issues, feel free to visit my Facebook page. I am very vocal and transparent about my views.”
I added two further comments, neither of which he replied to, which truly is disappointing.
Muslim leaders in America need to take every opportunity they have to clarify issues and answer questions, especially since many Americans believe that the only true Muslim is a radical Muslim.
In one of my follow-up posts, I wrote, “Your comments in themselves were reported accurately, and I never said that you approved of the killings. What I did find completely indefensible was your minimizing of the degree of radical Muslims around the world, and your complete disassociation of violence from the history and theology of Islam. From a scholarly point of view that is inexcusable, sir. So, once more I invite you to have a conversation.”
Since, to this point, Mr. Alyoush is refusing to have that conversation, let me post these questions for him and for other Muslim leaders in America, all of whom I invite to join me for a discussion on the air.
1. How can you say that only the most minute percentage of Muslims are radical when it can be easily documented that a sizable minority of Muslims are radicalized, translating into at least several hundred million Muslims?
2. If there is no support for violence in Islam, why do so many Muslim leaders today advocate jihad?
3. If groups like CAIR truly repudiate Islamic terrorism, where is their categorical condemnation of terrorist organizations like Hamas?
Lest anyone think I’m posing these questions simply to be provocative and confrontational, let me remind all Muslim readers that I come under regular attack for using the term “radical Islam,” since many of my readers and listeners believe that radical Islam is the only true expression of Islam and that non-radical Muslims are not true Muslims. Are they right?
So, if Mr. Alyoush still declines my invitation, I invite recognized Muslim leaders – spiritual, academic, social, or other – to join me on my radio show to have a candid, public discussion. You can readily contact me through my website.
Let the truth prevail.