January 18, 2007
Who's afraid of CAIR?
I was delighted to see Nonie Darwish's "Now They Call Me Infidel" reviewed in the Philadelphia Inquirer! For a book like that to make it into the MSM at all is real progress. Unfortunately, your typical, in-a-hurry-to-get to-work Inky reader might miss the review, as it's on page D-5, but what the hell. At least it's there.
Not often does a book review make me want to run out and buy the book, but this one did, because reading between the lines, I get the feeling that Ms. Darwish was lucky that her book even made it to the review stage. For starters, the book apparently comes accompanied by a battery of bigoted "blurbistas":
I wasn't sure I wanted to read this book. It comes accompanied by a battery of blurbs by several right-wing luminaries, including recently (and involuntarily) retired Sen. Rick Santorum. Still, you can't always tell a book by its blurbistas, and Noni Darwish's Now They Call Me Infidel might, I say just might, indicate something astir in the Islamic world: women in rebellion.How this review made it past the CAIR censors, I do not know. Perhaps the Philly chapter is lazy. But before my very eyes appeared statements like these:
"As a child," Noni Darwish writes, "I was not sure what a Jew was. I had never seen one. All I knew was that they were monsters. They wanted to kill Arab children, some said, to drink their blood."These are all good questions -- questions my Zoning Board not only failed to ask the local Saudi madrassa, but which neighbors concerned about their safety were specifically barred from asking.
Understandably, the reviewer displays a little turf-protectiveness where it comes to what he calls Ms. Darwish's "outrage at Western media":
The author's own outrage at Western media is somewhat overdone. Where does she get the idea that reports are "often intertwined with messages of blaming America first" and "smearing Americans who wanted to alert the American public to jihad in America by calling them bigots and alarmists." Examples, please. None provided.Must I?
OK, I haven't read the book and I do not have it, so this is another one of my reviews of a review of a book I haven't read. I cannot state definitively whether any examples are provided in the book. To say that there are "none," though is a pretty broad charge. (Any readers who have actually read the book, feel free to chime in and enlighten me.)
I figured that I could at least Google the author to see what's up. The name seemed familiar, but the paltry 496 hits which turned up just didn't seem right. Once I realized that the correct spelling of Ms. Darwish's first name is "Nonie" (as opposed to the reviewer's spelling of "Noni"), the number of hits skyrocketed to over 100,000, and it didn't take me long to discern Ms. Darwish has been providing examples herself -- for years. For years she has written that groups like CAIR go after people like Daniel Pipes (who is of course routinely called a bigot) and her by making angry charges which find sympathetic ears in a pliant media which considers CAIR to be "moderate."
It appears that CAIR and these "moderate" Muslims are powerful enough to have given Ms. Darwish problems finding a forum. In November, she was effectively censored at Brown University:
Muslim students had complained that Darwish was "too controversial." They insisted she be denied a platform at Brown, and after contentious debate Hillel agreed.I don't know the details of the "beautiful relationship" with the "Muslim community" at Brown, but stifling dissenting voices has never struck me as one of the hallmarks of beauty. Or moderation.
Ms. Darwish maintains that radical Muslim preachers know how to work the system, and excel at pretending to be moderate:
Such preachers are often regarded as a joke and as extreme even by moderate Muslims in Egypt only to find themselves with new respectable status and freedoms they could only dream of under Muslim dictatorships. Such Muslim radical preachers should never have been allowed in America. But believe it or not they have discovered that only in America can they work the system to their advantage to demand this and that and if anyone criticizes them they learn the good old buzz words in America: racist, bigot and Islamophobia -- the choice words they learned quickly from some Muslim American organizations who claim to be moderate. These are expressions represent realities that are a way of life in the old country where racism, bigotry and anti-Semitism are the norm. In America these individuals are finally free to spread their hatred, rage and subversion and cause a rift between Muslims and the rest of America.There are worse things than being called a bigot, though. In an open letter to PBS, she says that fear of Saudi-funded mosques in the United States is what requires her to use a pseudonym:
I now write articles critical of Islam and speak to many groups about the Middle East but have to use a pseudonym so I do not get killed by some of your Moslem friends in the US mosques you were interviewing! They have no shame to be complaining of discrimination after 9/11, thanks to Media outlets like you who gave them a voice. The US goes out of its way to protect them. What discrimination? Are you kidding? These mosques in the US are financed by Saudi money and have an agenda and they scare people like me who want to write and speak freely. Scared and oppressed former Moslems like me could be killed by these Moslem extremists in US mosques. There are many moderate Moslems and former Moslems like me who feel intimidated by some US Moslem extremists. Former Moslems have to be given a voice on why they escaped Islam. People like me and oppressed Christians and Jews in the Moslem World had no say on your show. That is very sad. I wish you had defended my right to choose or reject Islam without getting killed.Again, I haven't read the book the Inquirer reviews. But it certainly isn't hard to find examples of the "bigot" charge being used to smear "Americans who want to alert the American public to jihad in America." (Anyone heard of Charles Johnson?) Complaining about jihad in America is a great way to get tarred as a bigot, and I think it is why so many in the MSM are afraid of CAIR.
Frankly, I can't blame them. Like most people, reporters want to be left alone to live their lives in peace and raise their families. Unlike bloggers (who, as O'Reilly famously complained, "work for no one" and cannot be fired) reporters depend on a steady paycheck.
Being called a bigot is a dire career threat. Especially when the people leveling the charge are "moderates."
So, my congratulations to the Inquirer for the review. Especially the conclusion:
Now They Call Me Infidel is Darwish's personal story - provocative, repetitious, and not too well organized, Still, she asks some pertinent questions:Thank God we haven't reached the stage when defending Israel is called bigotry.
UPDATE: Eugene Volokh has more on CAIR's intimidation tactics, which now include filing complaints against Daniel Pipes (and assorted Jews they claim are engaged in "hate speech") with the Justice Department. (The complaint is here in pdf format.)
MORE: The Virtuous Republic has more on the letter from the CAIR board member, along with an excellent analysis. (Thanks for linking this post too!)
posted by Eric on 01.18.07 at 09:37 AM
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