In an article of mine published in the Star Tribune on Aug. 1, I argued that there are two types of Muslims in the United States, the patriotic ones (Americans who happen to be Muslim) and the chauvinists (who aggressively want to impose Islamic law and other Middle Eastern ways on this country). I proposed that which of these rival elements prevails will have vast implications for both Islam and for the United States.
In his "Counterpoint" to my article (published on Aug. 14), Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), dismisses my analysis with a wave of the hand as an "inaccurate assessment" and then devotes the bulk of his space to an ad hominem attack on me, my motives, and my writings. This is a familiar debating tactic; whoever can't refute an analysis impugns its writer. I'd prefer not have to defend myself or say anything against Mr. Hooper and his organization, but now that he has started, I must also have my say.
First, Mr. Hooper lists quotations by and about me going back to 1983, and he does so in so sly and selective a fashion that many things end up sounding like the opposite of what was intended. One example: he concludes from a passage in a 1990 article of mine that I am a racist: "Western European societies," he quotes me, "are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene." Yes, I wrote this. But I was not giving my own views, only reporting on the way Europeans think. Mr. Hooper chooses not to quote what are clearly my views, provided in the very next paragraph:
The movement of Muslims to Western Europe creates a great number of painful but finite challenges; there is no reason, however, to see this event leading to a cataclysmic battle between two civilizations. If handled properly, the immigrants can even bring much of value, including new energy, to their host societies.
Second, he misrepresents my argument ("Daniel Pipes once again tries to paint Islam as a threat to America"). Nowhere do I discuss Islam or indicate any feelings, positive or negative, about this faith. Rather, I argue that the chauvinist (or fundamentalist) version of politicized Islam is a threat to America. Its talk about (and sometimes violent actions toward - remember the World Trade Center bombing in New York) overthrowing the U.S. government and replacing it with an Islamic one worries me. Many pious Muslims agree with my view and some publicly denounce the chauvinist program of institutions like Mr. Hooper's organization, CAIR.
Now, CAIR is a particularly worrisome organization because it learned how to portray itself as a public affairs organization promoting "interest and understanding among the general public with regards to Islam and Muslims in North America." Sounds good, but this five-year old organization has a record that includes the following unpleasantries:
- Apologizing for such killers as Hamas (a group associated with the murder of 7 Americans) and Usama bin Ladin (charged with the Tanzania and Kenya embassy bombings a year ago).
- Helping promote terrorism: In the words of Steve Pomerantz., a former Chief of Counterterrorism for the FBI, "CAIR, its leaders, and its activities, effectively give aid to international terrorist groups."
- Intimidation of patriotic Muslims who disagree with CAIR's chauvinist agenda: In one case (Sheikh Hisham Kabbani), the FBI is looking into charges that he received death threats after renouncing the chauvinists.
- Permitting a potential unindicted co-conspirator in the World Trade Center bombing of 1993 to sit on its board.
- Defense of even the most archaic and barbaric of customs associated with Islam: When a prosecutor in Cleveland argued that the bail of two young men being held for an "honor killing" of their female cousin should be increased, CAIR replied by accusing him of of "ethnic and religious stereotyping" and called for a formal investigation into the prosecutor's actions.
- Sponsorship of blatant antisemitism: At a May 1998 rally at Brooklyn College co-sponsored by CAIR, one speaker referred to Jews as "descendants of the apes."
In short, Mr. Hooper's organization represents not the great civilization of Islam but a radical utopian movement originating in the Middle East that seeks to impose its ways on the United States. Americans should consider themselves warned: a new danger exists in their midst.