Jamal Hasan provides an interesting account of the atmospherics at a certain hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on July 23, 2003 (when my nomination to the board of the U.S. Institute of Peace was taken up). A choice excerpt from his account, as he arrives as the Dirksen Senate Office Building and found a line "already snaked to the main entrance of the chamber":
It did not however escape my attention that a Caucasian gentleman with a bevy of hijab-clad women was chitchatting with them. He was wearing a full sleeve shirt with a tie on.
At the time, I did not have any clue who the half inch bearded robust gentleman was. Not sure about the destination of the flock of people in the line, I drew his attention by asking, "Excuse me sir, is it the line for Daniel Pipes nomination?" The gentleman looked at me with a big grin on his face. He spread his arm to shake my hand saying, "Assalamo alaikum. I am Ibrahim Hooper."
After I heard the name, I could not believe myself I was face to face with the great Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which was popularly known as CAIR. … After the first encounter with the lobbyist, something led me to feel a bit of uneasy.
This was not because I was standing in proximity to the most high profile man in the business. I was a little bit perturbed realizing he took the easy route of profiling me even though he publicly critiqued all kinds of profiling in American society. I was wondering how could he be so sure I was a Muslim. I could be a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Jain, or even an Ahmadiya - or I could be anyone from South Asian region. After the jolt of puzzlement, I introduced myself.
How interesting, then, that one of the country's leading bellyachers about profiling spontaneously does it himself. (August 1, 2003)
September 11, 2003 update: During the question period following my talk this evening at Arizona State University commemorating 9/11, Deedra Abboud of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Arizona office asked why I identified her organization with militant Islam. So, I responded by summarizing some of the information I've written about. When I finished, she replied by asking, with a pronounced drawl, "How can a Southern girl like me be a supporter of militant Islam?" What's so interesting about this question is Abboud's implicit profiling. She is suggesting one has to be from Saudi Arabia or Bangladesh to be an Islamist. I replied to her that anyone can adopt the ideas of militant Islam and become an Islamist, even Southern girls.
March 28, 2004 update: Deedra Abboud acknowledges our encounter described above in an article published today in Arizona's East Valley Tribune, titled "Moderate Muslim that I am, it's hard to buy a stereotype" (unavailable on line):
last year during a visit to Arizona State University by Daniel Pipes, I was stunned to be labeled by him as a "militant Islamist," though we have never met. When I pointed out how odd it was to think of me, a Southern girl of American Indian and European ancestry, as being a "militant Islamist," Mr. Pipes fell back on racist rhetoric, stating that "they come in all kinds."
Although Abboud and I disagree on some details of our exchange (and its meaning), we do agree on its central point: her claim that being "a Southern girl" precludes her from being an Islamist and my saying that her geographic and ethnic provenance is irrelevant; all that counts are her ideas and views. The profiling implicit to Hooper and Abboud's statements – that a South Asian is a Muslim, that a Southern girl is no Islamist – offer a window into CAIR's disturbing mentality. And I find it amusing that "they come in all kinds" could be deemed racist, when it is precisely the opposite.
July 17, 2004 update: "FBI agents are beginning another round of interviews with Muslims and Arab Americans around the country as part of an effort to root out a possible terror attack in the United States," reports the Los Angeles Times. And how does CAIR respond? Attorney James Hacking, its St. Louis office director, recounted how he accompanied a graduate student to an interview with the FBI on July 14 and how the student was asked general questions to which he could answer with little useful information. Then comes this protest from Hacking about the student being called in for an interview: "This kid was born and raised in the Midwest. He is as American as apple pie." Once again, CAIR engages in profiling, this time with the implication that immigrants are more inclined to harbor terrorism-relevant information than native born Muslims.
Jan. 10, 2006 update: Another CAIR operative, another instance of profiling. This time, it's Badr Malik, director of the Connecticut branch. As an achingly sympathetic story in the Day newspaper tells it, he and his family were detained on January 2 at a U.S.-Canadian border checkpoint near Niagara Falls.
Malik didn't anticipate trouble as he headed home last week. The 50-year-old Malik said he expected to answer a few standard questions, then be ushered along just like in the past. "Not this time," he said. Perhaps if he was a man under 30 of Middle Eastern origin traveling alone, he said, he might have warranted a second look. But he has been a U.S. citizen for 30 years, and didn't "fit that profile at all," he said. "They waste our resources, our tax dollars."
Only single young immigrants from the Middle East are terrorists? That's not only inaccurate but also, to use CAIR's favorite word, bigoted.