Reply to CAIR's Attack on Daniel Pipes
If you have landed on http://www.cair-net.org/misc/people/daniel_pipes.html, you have seen an attack on me posted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Here is my response to that attack. It has two parts, one an analysis of CAIR and the other a defense against its attacks on me.
What is the Council on American-Islamic Relations?
CAIR is particularly worrisome because it claims to be nothing but a mild public affairs organization promoting "interest and understanding among the general public with regards to Islam and Muslims in North America," and is widely seen as such. In fact, it is radical to the core; to quote its chairman, Omar M. Ahmad (as reported by the San Ramon Valley Herald in July 1998), "Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran . . . should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth."
CAIR's record includes the following unpleasantries:
In short, CAIR 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.
CAIR also has a history of vituperation and aggressiveness against anyone who opposes its Islamist vision for the United States. In my case, it has sent out nearly a hundred tirades impugning my reputation since July 1999. These have landed everywhere from the op-ed page of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune to the hands of street picketers in Washington, D.C. and Cornell University.
Defense of Daniel Pipes
Before getting into specifics, it is interesting to note that CAIR has, on at least two occasions, cited me as an authority on Islam and Muslims. Once, in a press release dated 17 March 1998, when it needed an authority to discuss a staff member of the House Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, whom did it turn to? Me, citing me by name and quoting me. The second time, when CAIR listed the books it is sending to libraries (at http://www.cair-net.org/libraryproject/materials.asp), whose review in The Wall Street Journal of John L. Esposito's The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality? did it quote? Mine.
In other words, for all its defamation of my character and knowledge, CAIR itself acknowledges my expertise.
In its attack on me, CAIR lists quotations by and about me going back to 1983, but it does so in so sly and selective a fashion that many things end up sounding like the opposite of what was intended.
I regret the complexity of what follows, but due to quotations within quotations, it requires careful reading.
The CAIR text which turns up at http://www.cair-net.org/misc/people/daniel_pipes.html is left-flush. [Square brackets] demarcate my commentaries within long quotes.
My commentary is indented. << and >> mark the beginning and end of long quotes by me.
"The Palestinians are a miserable people...and they deserve to be." Daniel Pipes, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July 2001
I replied to this made-up quote in a letter to the editor published in the October 2001 issue of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs:
POLICE, MUSLIMS REFUTE HERNDON LINK TO TERRORISM, By Jeannie Baumann, Herndon (Va.) Observer, 6/15/2001
The Herndon police chief has refuted a statement in a Wall Street Journal editorial [by Steven Emerson and Daniel Pipes] that identified Herndon as the location of an organized terrorist cell connected to international terrorist Osama bin Laden...
...Herndon Police Chief Toussaint E. Summers Jr. said the police department contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation after the editorial appeared to verify the citing, and he said the bureau has no evidence of any al-Qaeda activity in the town.
"All we did was try to verify the information in the article, and there appears to be no truth to it at all..."
I replied to this article in the Herndon Observer at length in Bin Laden and Herndon, Virginia, The Jerusalem Post, 20 June 2001.
WHO IS DANIEL PIPES?
Throughout his career, Daniel Pipes has exhibited a troubling bigotry toward Muslims and Islam. As early as 1983, even an otherwise positive Washington Post book review noted that Pipes displays "a disturbing hostility to contemporary Muslims...he professes respect for Muslims but is frequently contemptuous of them." Pipes, said the reviewer, "is swayed by the writings of anti-Muslim writers...[the book] is marred by exaggerations, inconsistencies, and evidence of hostility to the subject." (The Washington Post, 12/11/83)
Yes, Thomas Lippman did write the above, but within an extremely positive context that CAIR does not provide:
In The Weekly Standard (1/22/96), Pipes offered a glowing review of the infamous anti-Muslim book "Why I Am Not a Muslim." The National Catholic Reporter (11/17/95) called that book "the literary equivalent of hate radio...literary warfare against Islam," useful only to those "interested in returning to the polemical past to do battle with Islamic believers." Pipes called the book "quite brilliant" and "startlingly novel." "This religion would seem to have nothing functional to offer," remarked Pipes.
This is a perfect illustration of CAIR's deceptiveness. Here is the above quote from the National Catholic Reporter review in context:
Recently, Pipes questioned the origins of the Quran, Islam's revealed text, and questioned whether the Prophet Muhammad ever existed.
I wrote a column about a book edited by Ibn Warraq, The Quest for the Historical Muhammad (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 2000). That book - not me - raises profound questions about the origins of Islam. (For the column, see http://www.danielpipes.org/article/333.) Have we reached the point in the United States where open discussion of scholarly analysis is now forbidden if it pertains to Islam?
He wrote: "The Koran is a not 'a product of Muhammad or even of Arabia,' but a collection of earlier Judeo-Christian liturgical materials stitched together to meet the needs of a later age...A few scholars go even further, doubting even the existence of Muhammad." (The Jerusalem Post, 5/12/2000)
As the quotation marks within the quote suggest, I am not speaking in my own voice but quoting contributors to The Quest for the Historical Muhammad. The citation about not 'a product of Muhammad or even of Arabia,' is on p. 495 of that book. More slippery, inaccurate, and dishonest quoting by CAIR.
According to Pipes, the night journey of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Jerusalem referred to in the Quran (17:1) never occurred. This event, known as "al-Isra wa al-Miraj," is marked each year by millions of Muslims worldwide. In the Los Angeles Times, Pipes wrote: "The Prophet Mohammed never went to the city, nor did he have ties to it." (7/21/2000)
CAIR is inadvertently flaunting its ignorance of Islam here. First, the Qur'an verse 17:1 does not mention Jerusalem and there is a long debate where exactly the "further mosque" of that verse is located. There are many reasons to think the reference was not to Jerusalem. (For a brief discussion of this matter, see "If I Forget Thee: Does Jerusalem Really Matter to Islam?" The New Republic, April 28, 1997, at http://www.danielpipes.org/article/281.)
Pipes also displays a racist's distaste for Muslim immigrants who "wish to import the customs of the Middle East and South Asia." (Los Angeles Times, 7/22/99) For Pipes, this sort of raw bigotry is nothing new.
Let the reader judge this phrase - but in context. I argue that there are two sorts of Muslim immigrants in the United States: "integrationists are delighted to live in a democratic country where the rule of law prevails, whereas chauvinists wish to import the customs of the Middle East and South Asia." Sound racist to you? (For the full column, see http://www.danielpipes.org/article/313.)
In 1990, he said: Western European societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene...All immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most. (National Review, 11/19/90)
In a review of a book that called for dialogue with the Muslim world, Pipes objected to the fact that the author: "...fails to...consider the implications of growing Muslim populations in the West. [The book], in other words, provides little guidance to the Islamic threat." (Wall Street Journal, 10/30/92)
The book here, by John Esposito, is called The Islamic Threat. CAIR quotes the final sentence of the review (for the full text, see http://www.danielpipes.org/article/882) but leaves out the context and the fact that I am playing with the book title:
On a radical pro-Israel web site, Pipes claims that "as the population of Muslims in the United States grows, so does antisemitism." (The New Anti-Semitism)
Typical of CAIR's carelessness, if not dishonesty, it fails to note that this article was written by me for the Jewish Exponent of Philadelphia and published there on October 16, 1997 - even though this is indicated clearly on the above-cited website. Second, the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies reprinted my article without asking my permission - and CAIR did not check with me to find this out but simply makes assumptions that I chose to publish there. Third, the Freeman Center, whose mission is "to aid Israel in her quest to survive in a hostile world," is a perfectly respectable institution, not "radical" except in CAIR's fevered view.
He does not limit this claim to Arab Muslims alone. Pipes wrote that "Iranians and Pakistanis, to take two groups of non-Arabs, are at least as widely conspiracy-minded and as anti-Semitic as, say, Tunisians and Kuwaitis." (Commentary, 9/1/99)
Happens to be so, unfortunately. All I am doing is pointing out a truth.
Of African-American Muslims, Pipes wrote: "...black converts tend to hold vehemently anti-American, anti-Christian, and anti-Semitic attitudes." (Commentary, 6/1/2000)
Some proof is needed? Louis Farrakhan, perhaps the leading antisemite in the United States, has called Judaism a "gutter religion" (The New York Times, June 29, 1984) and described Adolf Hitler as a "very great man" (radio broadcast, March 11, 1984). In an infamous speech at Kean College in November 1993, Farrakhan's deputy spewed out a mind-boggling series of statements about Jews. The Nation of Islam sells the Protocols of the Elders of Zion at its events. And the organization has even done original "scholarship" of its own, putting together a volume in 1991 called The Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews that purports to show that Jews were primarily responsible for the enslavement of blacks and their transport to America. And so on and on.
In an editorial in Canada's National Post, Pipes implied that the Canadian Muslim community could pose a threat to that country. He wrote: "Following Marxism, Leninism and Fascism comes Islamism...Islamism is a...phenomenon that has the power to do mischief...right here in Canada." (8/7/99)
Islamism sure can do mischief in Canada. But note again the tricky change in wording: I wrote about Islamism, CAIR turns this into a statement about "the Canadian Muslim community."
This is the same "expert" who claims Muslims have no real religious attachments to the city of Jerusalem
Yes, I reviewed 1,400 years of history in If I Forget Thee: Does Jerusalem Really Matter to Islam?, The New Republic, April 28, 1997 and concluded that Muslims do not have a deep religious attachment to the city. Here is an excerpt:
and who recently argued that American Muslims pose a threat to the Jewish community. (If I Forget Thee: Does Jerusalem Really Matter to Islam?, The New Republic, 4/28/1997, and America's Muslims against America's Jews, Commentary, 5/01/1999)
No, I did not argue that "American Muslims pose a threat to the Jewish community" in the second of these pieces (available at http://www.danielpipes.org/article/308) but that Islamists and the Nation of Islam pose a threat to Jews. After giving examples of Islamist and Nation of Islam actions and speech, I wrote this careful distinction:
In response to a suggestion that American Muslim voter registration drives are a positive development, Pipes wrote: "I fail to see how conducting voter registration drives implies the Islamists are not 'bad.' The CPUSA [Communist Party USA] also staged registration drives, and for similar reasons." (MSANEWS, 8/18/99)
Good analogy, actually, and I stand by it.
Following the arrest of two Arab graduate students on a flight bound for Washington, D.C., (the airline later apologized for the incident) Pipes supported the practice of religious and ethnic profiling.
According to the Baltimore Sun: "'It seems well worth it in order to keep would-be terrorists off guard,' said Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, a think tank. He defended the close monitoring of Arab passengers, arguing that 'the record shows over the last generation that the great acts of violence are coming from the Middle East...'" (The Baltimore Sun, 11/24/1999, Page 1A)
Poor CAIR! This is one argument it now must regret arguing with me about. Had religious and ethnic profiling been in place on September 11, it is very unlikely that 19 Arabic-speaking Muslims would have made it on board with their box-cutters.
Noted scholar and author Edward Said, whose works include "Covering Islam" and "Orientalism," wrote that Pipes is one of a group of anti-Muslim pundits who seek to "make sure that the '[Islamic] threat' is kept before our eyes, the better to excoriate Islam for terror, despotism and violence, while assuring themselves profitable consultancies, frequent TV appearances and book contracts." (The Nation, 8/12/1996)
The same Edward Said who told a Kuwaiti newspaper some years ago that "the Israeli and U.S. Governments are our enemies" (Al-Qabas, Oct. 7, 1989); he is someone whose judgment we are to respect? And he, the guru of Middle Eastern studies, the president of the Modern Language Association, the celebrity intellectual of Columbia University, and the darling of post-modernists, accuses me of having fashionable politics?
A former director of Harvard's Center for Middle Eastern Studies (and one of Pipes' instructors) had this to say:
"...to speak for myself, I have been appalled frequently by his [Pipes] polemical stance on almost everything having to do with Islam, Muslims, or the Palestinian/Israeli issue...
"...The irony in [an article written by Pipes] is of course that Dr. Pipes and other radically and blindly pro-Zionist American Jews are much farther along the chauvinist and ultimately anti-American spectrum than are even radical American Muslims.
"Yet Dr. Pipes, despite his own apparently strong, even blind, support for the Israeli state and its policies-even those policies that are attacked by thoughtful Israelis themselves as racist and oppressive-sees no incongruity in his condemnation of many Muslim Americans as a threat to the American state and democracy..." (Posted on Arabic-Info, PNET and Arab Nationalist lists, 9/10/99)
It would be nice if CAIR could get its facts right. In 1999, it sent out a notice titled "More on Daniel Pipes From His Former Arabic Instructor at Harvard," then proceeded with the above quotes from William A. Graham of Harvard University. Trouble is, I never studied Arabic at Harvard with Professor Graham. For the record, Wilson Bishai and Annemarie Schimmel were my Arabic teachers.
One of the anti-Muslim pundits supported by Pipes is Steven Emerson. Emerson is best known for his 1994 PBS production "Jihad in America." Muslims say he has a long history of defamatory and inaccurate attacks on the Islamic community in this country.
Emerson was the "journalist" who fueled anti-Islamic hysteria by blaming Muslims for the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. He also said Muslims were responsible for the downing of TWA Flight 800 in 1996.
Emerson's organization, the Investigative Project, is a spin-off of Pipes Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum (MEF). In an investigative report by iViews.com, Emerson confirmed that MEF funded his activities in the past and said: "Clearly I had a very close relationship with them (MEF) and I continue to have a very close relationship."
Emerson is currently involved in a multi-million-dollar defamation lawsuit against a Florida newspaper, its senior editor, and a former investigative reporter for The Associated Press (AP).
The complaint centers on allegations published by the newspaper that two AP reporters said Emerson gave them a document on terrorism supposedly from FBI files. The reporters said the document was actually authored by Emerson. The lawsuit also disputes allegations that Emerson gave false information to a Senate subcommittee during testimony in 1998.
He has recently been forced to retract accusations he made last year about a former journalism lecturer at California State University in Hayward, Ca.
Of Emerson, Pipes says: "I am proud to work with him." (MSANEWS, 9/2/99)
I am indeed proud to work with Steven Emerson, a brave investigative journalist with a distinguished career at U.S. News & World Report, CNN, and other news organizations, plus a winner of the Polk Prize. He has paid a particularly heavy price for his pathbreaking work on American Islamists; because of their threats against his life, he has had to go into hiding and now lives underground. (For details on his predicament, see http://www.danielpipes.org/article/321.)
Pipes also seeks to silence those who oppose his one-sided view of Islam. In 1996, he attacked the Council on Foreign Relations for publishing a newsletter that he accused of "giving voice to Muslim fundamentalists." ("Fundamentalist Flap Roiling Council on Foreign Relations," Forward, 5/10/1996)
I don't seek to silence anyone. I was perturbed that the Council on Foreign Relations had sponsored a publication, the Islamic Politics Report, that was effectively apologizing for Islamism. As a member of the Council and a supporter of it financially, I felt completely within my rights, indeed, I felt a responsibility, to bring the nature of the Islamic Politics Report the attention of the Council leadership. The Council's president, I am pleased to note, completely agreed with me (repeatedly calling the Report "a piece of junk") and quickly shut down this forgotten and unlamented publication.
American Muslims recall Mr. Pipes finger-pointing following the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. (Pipes now admits that he was wrong on this point.) As The Village Voice noted: "Leaping directly into hysteria was the right-wing Daniel Pipes...who told USA Today...'People need to understand that this is just the beginning. The fundamentalists are on the upsurge, and they make it very clear that they are targeting us. They are absolutely obsessed with us.'" (5/2/95)
Given this history of hostility toward Muslims in general and to the American Muslim community in particular, it is not surprising that Pipes paints a black and white image of good "integrationist" or "traditional" Muslims who love mom and apple pie versus bad Muslim "chauvinists" and "Islamists." This distinction without a difference is merely a smoke-screen for attacks on any Muslim who would defend Islam.
Actually, it is "surprising": were I hostile to Islam, as CAIR alleges, I would not paint a "black-and-white image" of good and bad Muslims. I would paint a black and black image of only bad Muslims. The fact that I differentiate between Muslims, looking at their politics rather than their religion, goes back to my main point, the one CAIR wants to obfuscate: I oppose the Islamist program because I consider it an ugly totalitarianism. Plenty of pious Muslims agree with me on this point. Perhaps the most notable is Fethullah Gülen of Turkey; within the United States, the best known is Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, a Sufi sheikh. Even more secular Muslims - Salman Rushdie comes to mind - concur.
In his writings to date, Pipes has never offered objective criteria that would distinguish between "integrationist" and "chauvinists."
I have used these terms exactly once (Los Angeles Times, July 22, 1999), where I clearly defined them. (For the full article, see http://www.danielpipes.org/article/313.)
His definition of "chauvinist" must be fairly broad. In his National Post article, Pipes wrote: "The Internet boasts hundreds of Islamist [chauvinist] sites; I doubt whether there is a single one that is traditional [integrationist] Muslim." (8/7/99)
I wish my definition were broad; sadly, this domination of the Internet is a symptom of the Islamist domination of Muslim life in the West. Now, however, there are some traditionalist sites, including http://shell.spqr.net/islam/, http://www.islamicsupremecouncil.org/, and http://www.aicp.org/.
Pipes obviously hopes to convince people of other faiths that the bad American Muslims are in the majority since he claims they "run most of the Muslim institutions in the United States." (Los Angeles Times, "It Matters What Kind of Islam Prevails," 7/22/99)
I am hardly the only one to note how the Islamists dominate Muslim institutions. Speaking at the Department of State, Muhammad Hisham Kabbani estimated that they dominate 80 percent of the Islamic institutions in this country. (For his statement and the intense controversy that followed, see http://www.sunnah.org/events/statedept/unveiling_the_controversy.htm.) I wish I could report that patriotic, non-totalitarian Muslims run the key organizations.
The kind of agenda-driven polemic offered by Pipes only serves to fan the flames of ignorance and prejudice. But perhaps that is his intent.
No, as is clear to anyone who reads my work, is to help Americans understand the complexities of the Middle East and Islam. Distinguishing between traditional Islam and militant Islam is one of my main subjects due to its importance. (For more on my background and goals, see http://www.danielpipes.org/article/351.)
Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum. Daniel J. Pipes