Letter of Endorsement
Yatindra Bhatnagar

August 10, 2003

Daniel Pipes' Nomination: Don't Succumb to Islamist Extremists and Invite Trouble

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions has put off a final decision on the nomination of Daniel Pipes to the Board of United States Institute for Peace. It seems some of the members of the Committee, active Senators, could not make up their mind confronted with the pressures from militant Muslim organizations claiming to represent all Muslims and bent on distorting facts. The Senators also could not boldly take a rational, objective and correct decision to confirm Mr. Pipes. Well, if they want to take more time to see through the game of those one-sided extremist Islamic organizations with suspect motives, the postponement could be justified.

On the other hand, if they seem helpless in facing that extremist pressure and found postponement a way out, at least for now, they have showed a weakness, lack of courage to face issues head-on. Sooner, or later, they have to confront the real culprits and make a bold decision in the larger interest of the American people and peace. That peace has to be on equal terms, and as defined by a democratic society, not otherwise.

In recent weeks one has seen a spate of petitions and requests for rejecting Daniel Pipes’ nomination mainly on the ground that he was against Muslims. These petitions were largely the efforts of a couple of Islamic organizations whose background, membership, activities, fund-raising and fund-disbursement are all suspect. In any case, is it a condition that a member of the Peace Institute has to be pro-Muslim? Can’t he be just pro-peace, and pro-America, pro-justice and pro-objectivity?

The more tragic aspect is the stand of a couple of senior Senators, such as Ted Kennedy, who tend to turn a blind eye, and a deaf ear, to the militant Muslim organizations who are dangerous in what they openly say, and what they really are. It would be a sad day if finally, the Senators on the committee succumb to the pressures of those extremist Islamists, and reject Mr. Pipes’ nomination. That would be a big mistake. That would be a victory of the shrill and vindictive voice of Islamic extremism over the sane and calm voice of reason and objectivity. It would be surrender to Islamist extremism ignoring the urgent need to cut these elements and organizations to their real size.

The honorable Senators, probably do not have adequate access to the background, and statements of Mr. Pipes to make a distinction between All Muslims and Islamic Extremists. They also, most probably, don’t have the time to find out more about the background of the extremist Islamist organizations, such as CAIR, who are opposing Mr. Pipes’ nomination tooth and nail.

Daniel Pipes is opposed to fanatically inclined extremist Islamists, not the moderate, reasonable Muslims – and certainly not Islam as a religion - who constitute the silent majority but fear to offend the militants. Some do speak their minds but are largely ignored or silenced.

But this silent majority has to be protected and they have to be given their due. Pipes’ nomination to the peace committee would ensure that also.

It is no secret that most of the violent acts of terrorism have been, and are still being, carried out in several countries, including the United States, by militant Muslims of the extremist variety. Mr. Pipes has criticized those Muslim elements, which any sensible person would do. He has time and again, mentioned this fact that the democratic governments and those fighting against terror have to be aware of the activities of those extremists, militant, Muslims. Is that bad? Is that offensive to the law-abiding citizens? Is that not the Senate and the peace-loving citizens of this great country want?

Daniel Pipes is a bold voice of sanity and reason. He is a writer, thinker, analyst and an objective, rational activist of impeccable character. He is not swayed by relentless show of solidarity among the extremist elements that think that all Muslims support their violent activities. He does not subscribe to the theory of appeasement of the extremists, terrorists, and their supporters to work for, and secure, peace. We have seen the consequences of appeasement, for a long time.

Actually, working for peace and supporting extremism are two diametrically opposite things. We must choose the right one. The United States and its peace initiatives would only succeed when people of objectivity, rational thinking and courage would serve on forums such as USIP. To keep people of wide scholarship and integrity, such as Mr. Pipes, out of USIP would be a tragedy. That would mean the success of the extremist Islamic groups that provide support and comfort to elements absolutely disruptive. They are working against real peace and security of the country.

The Senators on the committee should calmly consider the consequences of their choice and should confirm Mr. Pipes to help the process of making this country safe for law-abiding citizens. To reject Mr. Pipes would amount to surrendering before extremist Islamic groups and appeasing those whose short and long-term interests do not coincide with American national interests.

Among the extremist Islamic organizations opposing Daniel Pipes is The Council on American-Islamic Relations, (CAIR), with 17 offices across North America. It claims to represent the entire Muslim population in North America but has been challenged by several Muslims themselves.

This organization has adopted an extremists stand and some of its officials are reported to have been openly advocating violence and sympathizing with Islamic terrorists. They even want the United States to turn into an Islamic nation.

Mr. Pipes wrote about some of them in a recent article in The New York Post. He quoted CAIR Chairman, Omar M. Ahmad who said: “Suicide bombers kill themselves for Islam, and so are not terrorists.”

Another official, Executive Director Nihad Awad proclaims his “support” for Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group.

CAIR Spokesman Ibrahim Hooper declares, “I wouldn't want to create the impression that I wouldn't like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future.”

Two of the former employees of this organization, Bassem Khafagi and Ismail Royer, were recently arrested on charges connected to terrorism. A member of CAIR's advisory board, Siraj Wahhaj, was named by the U.S. attorney as one of the “unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators” in an attempted terrorist assault, Mr. Pipes has revealed in his article.

This is the record of CAIR, the organization supposed to represent All Muslims in the US. The tragedy is that despite its questionable and suspicious record, and links, the US government has given this body respectability. The government accepts CAIR as representing Islam. The White House invites it to its activities; the State Department links to its Web page and Democratic senators rely on its research. In New York City, the mayor appoints its general counsel to the Human Rights Commission and the police department hosts its “sensitivity training” seminar. In Florida, public schools invite it to teach “diversity awareness,” wrote Mr. Pipes. How astonishing! How outrageous!

The silver lining is that moderate Muslims don’t care for CAIR; they reject CAIR as representing them.

Daniel Pipes has quoted the late Seifeldin Ashmawy, publisher of the New Jersey-based Voice of Peace, who had dismissed CAIR as the champion of “extremists whose views do not represent Islam.”

Further, Tashbih Sayyed of the Los Angeles-based Council for Democracy and Tolerance accuses CAIR of being a “fifth column” in the United States. And you know, these “fifth columnists” spy against your government, misuse and subvert your system, and destroy the social, economic and political fabric of your society. They have done it for better part of the last century. They would not give up their role in the current.

Another official of the same organization, Jamal Hasan, makes clear that CAIR's goal is spreading “Islamic hegemony the world over by hook or by crook, ” I again quote Daniel Pipes.

With that as a background of this Islamic extremist organization spearheading opposition to Mr. Pipes’ nomination, who in his or her senses would throw all caution and national interests to the winds and reject Daniel Pipes? Only those who shut their eyes to reality and refuse to see through the dangerous game of extremist Islamists would play with the destiny of the country. The nomination of Mr. Pipes is not an end in itself, it is one of the steps to show how not to succumb to extremist pressures and how to defeat destructive politics and preserve peace and security in the country.

I continue to feel strongly about this issue. Earlier, on July 22, I had faxed to each of the 21 Senators on the nominating committee, the following letter:

Daniel Pipes, A Voice of Sanity, Peace

Your Committee will hold a hearing for Mr. Daniel Pipes for the US Institute for Peace. Mr. Pipes is a prominent thinker, rational commentator, and sensible writer who can differentiate between what is right for the entire nation, and narrow self-interest.

Mr. Pipes has been wrongly targeted by vested interests. They have either not read Pipes or are deliberately distorting his comments. Mr. Pipes is against extremists, militants and terrorists, and not all Muslims. This is the significant distinction. Is that bad? And how does that stand make him unacceptable? A man of Mr. Pipes’ impeccable credentials would give the USIP a distinct character of a real peace institute devoted to rational thinking, not easy-to-be-swayed by misplaced emotions and meaningless rhetoric.

Mr. Pipes will be an asset to the committee and a moderating, objective, and calming influence. We must consider the larger interest of the nation, and not fall prey to the aggressive advocacy by elements that are prejudiced, and obstructionists in the name of peace. Radical terrorist apologists have carried out a smear campaign against Mr. Pipes. They have done a disservice to this great nation and its people, who know better.

Moreover, it is not true that all American Muslims are against Mr. Pipes. Only radical, prejudiced and extremist elements are opposing Mr. Pipes. The moderate Muslims have questioned the claims of extremists of being the sole voice of American Muslims.

According to Pakistan Today, “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

You will, thus, see that Mr. Pipes enjoys a reputation of being a sensible and rational person worthy of nomination on this important committee.

I hope and trust that you, Honorable Senator, will support the nomination of Mr. Pipes.