The Washington Post fetched up over the weekend with an editorial calling on the Senate to reject the nomination of Daniel Pipes to the board of the United States Institute of Peace. Mr. Pipes is the director of the Middle East Forum, a Philadelphia-based research group, and is a columnist of the New York Post and a regular contributor to the New York-based journal Commentary. He's one of the more thoughtful commentators on militant Islamist terrorism, the threat it poses to America, and how our country should deal with it, which is no doubt why his nomination is kicking up such a stir. The New York Sun reported last week that opponents of the nomination have been basing their opposition to him partly on what Mr. Pipes has called a made-up quote from a magazine that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee calls "stridently anti-Israel." Other quotes cited by some of the Pipes critics are distorted or taken out of context.
The Washington Post argument against the nomination is more sophisticated than the smear tactics used by some of the radical terrorist apologists, but only slightly so. The Post says the nomination should be nixed because it "is salt in the wound" of "U.S. Muslims, who are ever anxious that they are being singularly scrutinized."
Well, it's stunning that the Washington Post would make such a sweeping generalization about the views of American Muslims on the Pipes nomination. It's just not true. The publication Pakistan Today, for example, reported last week that, "Many moderate American Muslims, frustrated by and angry at the extremist policies of militant Islamist organizations in the U.S. and their efforts to portray themselves as the sole voice of Islam, have welcomed the nomination of Daniel Pipes." The article quoted a Washington-based writer, Jamal Hasan; a medical student, Khurshid Ahmad; a scholar of Islam, Khalid Duran; the president of the Council for Democracy and Tolerance, Tashbih Sayyed; Khurshed A. Chowdhury of Washington; Younus Mansour; and Nonie Darwish — all supporters of the Pipes nomination.
A Senate vote on the Pipes nomination will be a useful way of shining a light on congressional sentiment on these matters. New Yorkers can be proud that one of our senators, Charles Schumer, has already expressed support for Mr. Pipes, telling us that he'd be inclined to back the nomination. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, which has jurisdiction over the nomination, includes several high-profile figures, including New York's other senator, Hillary Clinton; a Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, and Senator Kennedy of Massachusetts, who is scheduled to speak Wednesday night at a black-tie awards dinner of the Arab American Institute. The Arab American Institute has issued an overheated press release calling on the Senate to reject the Pipes nomination for what it groundlessly calls Mr. Pipes's "racist and bigoted rhetoric" — yet the AAI dinner is sponsored in part by that beacon of tolerance, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Moderate American Muslims, together with Americans of all faiths who care about our security and the terrorist threat posed by militant Islamism, will be watching to see how the Senate votes on the Pipes nomination. It'll be a test of the senators' willingness to stand up to what Pakistan Today so accurately called "the extremist policies of militant Islamist organizations in the U.S."