Paul Harvey, 84, is an ABC radio personality whose "News and Comment" program appears on 1,600 radio stations. His radio career goes back 60 years and he is known as "the most listened-to voice in the history of radio" and is "generally considered the greatest salesman in the history of radio." His recent run-in with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), militant Islam's most powerful institution in North American, provides a textbook example of Islamist aggression.
The story begins on Dec. 4, 2003, when Harvey described the vicious nature of cock fighting in Iraq, then commented: "Add to the [Iraqi] thirst for blood, a religion which encourages killing, and it is entirely understandable if Americans came to this bloody party unprepared." CAIR responded a day later with a demand for "an on-air apology."
Comment: I have been documenting since 1999 CAIR's use of such censorious tactics against anyone who dares criticize Islam, militant Islam, or Muslims. This reflects the militant Islamic ambition to privilege Islam, which implies in part a prohibition on free discussion about it.
CAIR upped the ante on Dec. 8 by calling on its minions to contact a different sponsor of Harvey's each day to press it to drop its advertising on his program "until Harvey responds to Muslim concerns."
Comment: CAIR here rejects the American principle of free speech and the belief that differences in opinion should be dealt with through reasoned discourse; it wants to close down debate. I can think of no U.S. organizations except the militant Islamic ones that deploy comparable tactics.
Harvey immediately capitulated to CAIR, announcing on Dec. 9 (through an on-air substitute) that he received letters from "dear friends" who "reminded all of us that Islam is a religion of peace, that terrorists do not represent Islam." This statement dismayed some observers ("Harvey shouldn't have apologized," responded Rich Tucker of the Heritage Foundation). CAIR responded in a press release that same day by noting Harvey's "conciliatory statement" and thanking "all those who took the time to speak out in defense of Islam." As for Harvey, it offered him no gratitude for toeing its line, only the chance to further his re-education by meeting with "American Muslim leaders to begin a dialogue on issues related to Islam."
Comment: Calling for Harvey to meet for "dialogue" points to CAIR's intent not to move on but to exploit each opportunity to promote its agenda.
Still, CAIR has not relented. In an e-mail on Dec. 22, under a headline "GE Pulls Ads from Paul Harvey's Program," it reports that General Electric sent out the following message: "We have received your E-mail about the comments of Paul Harvey on December 4, 2003. GE certainly doesn't endorse the comment and regrets any offense that it may have caused. While we look into the matter further, we have pulled GE's advertisements from Mr. Harvey's show."
Comment: This effort to crush an opponent – get his apology and then deprive him of his livelihood – typifies CAIR's illiberal approach. As Stephen Schwartz notes, "CAIR needs to find and defeat enemies, for this most effectively mobilizes followers."
Dec. 29, 2003 update: Following the above article, I listed the telephone number and e-mail address for Gary Sheffer, GE's General Manager, Public Affairs and Employee Communications to protest GE's decision.
Today I received the following communication from Jonathan Klein of GE Corporate Communications:
Regarding the story on your Web site dated 12/24, I am writing to let you know that GE Consumer Products will be resuming their advertising on Paul Harvey's syndicated radio show.
I would also like to request that you update this information on your site. Finally, I would like to request that you remove the contact information for Gary Sheffer.
Thank you in advance,
As Mr. Klein requests, I am updating the information and I have removed the contact information for Gary Sheffer.
The moral of this little story would seem to be this: when Islamists start the pressure game, anti-Islamists can win it.