CAIR Feels the Heat
by Stephen Schwartz
It has often been alleged that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was founded in 1994 by backers of the Palestinian terrorist movement Hamas, with the intention of furthering, in the U.S. and Canada, the radical Muslim ideology of Wahhabism, financed by the extremist wing of the Saudi state. Many critics assert that CAIR has been and remains the most consistent menace to democracy, and especially to moderate Muslims, in North America.
In my view, CAIR is best understood by comparison with its predecessor in the history of totalitarian penetration of this country: the Soviet-controlled Communist party. I believe that like the Stalinists of the 1930s and 1940s, CAIR represents an alien ideology without roots in our society. But also like the Communists, I see in CAIR an organization adept at confusing and otherwise dealing with most of its opponents.
The ultimate goal of the pro-Soviet Communists was the conquest and subjugation of the U.S. Similarly, political Islam as represented by CAIR, according to evidence I and others have analyzed, aims at global domination. But America is the greatest power in the world and is not easily subverted. Both the Stalinists and, in my observation, CAIR, have employed an aggressive rhetoric of global triumph to express their extremism and recruit fanatics. Yet given the deep attachment of Americans to freedom, threatening to subdue North America and actually realizing such an intent are two very different, and very distant, realities. Christians, Jews, and even moderate Muslims are not easily overcome.
In the short term, however, both the American Stalinists and the American Wahhabis have had a common three-point agenda:
In both cases, federal authorities broke up illicit activities hidden by the mask of fake loyalty to America. The U.S. government identified and arrested Soviet spies operating in the American Communist milieu. Along the same lines, a former CAIR employee, the convicted terror recruiter Randall (Ismail) Royer, who harassed American Muslim dissidents (myself included) and drove around Washington with a loaded automatic weapon in his car, was sent to prison for 20 years.
If the agenda of the Stalinists and Wahhabis in America seems identical, so has the camouflage. For decades the American Communists claimed to be the only consistent defenders of civil rights for Blacks and other minorities. However, when support for African Americans conflicted with Soviet orders, the Communists denounced civil rights advocates – as late as the 1960s they tried to turn Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. against the long-serving but anti-Communist Black leaders and intellectuals, A Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, and James Baldwin. Today, I believe, CAIR poses as a civil-liberties agency when its real task is to exclude and suppress moderate Sunni and other non-Wahhabi Muslims, keeping them out of mosques, academia, and other public institutions.
How do we defeat CAIR?
The counter-jihad against CAIR requires much more than reaction to it. Trying to reply to CAIR's efforts after they are accomplished provides little help. Improvised polemics by individuals ignorant of Islam, "clever" tricks, or speculative lawsuits may do more harm than good, by reinforcing CAIR's self-image as a guardian of American Muslims against discrimination.
Educating the non-Muslim public about CAIR's real program is necessary, and can help win the struggle, as was seen when U.S. Senator from California Barbara Boxer, a Democrat, repudiated an endorsement extended to CAIR. Actively lobbying the DOJ and DHS to exclude CAIR from its consultations will also prove effective.
But finally, CAIR will be defeated only by a multi-faceted campaign to provide government and media with an authoritative and comprehensive moderate Muslim alternative to CAIR and its ideology, offering a completely different agenda from that of CAIR – one that is loyal to Western governing institutions and committed to a genuinely American expression of Islam.
American Communism was defeated when outstanding liberals, progressives, labor organizers, sincere pacifists, and legitimate social protest leaders turned against it.
CAIR will be defeated as outstanding Muslim representatives, including imams, teachers, and community activists repudiate it.
Like the Stalinists, if not in direct imitation of them, CAIR obviously knows how to work the American system to its benefit. The American Communists prevailed on the U.S. Supreme Court to find that a network that had actively recruited spies, traitors, and terrorists should still enjoy full constitutional rights of advocacy for its beliefs, absent a clear and present danger that the government would be overthrown. As I recently learned from a member of a delegation of Western European Muslims visiting the U.S. as guests of the State Department, CAIR representatives, to whom State also took the visitors (!) praised American democracy because it allows the American Wahhabis to promote radical Islam with full constitutional protection.
American Communists agitated against inequality but spent most of their time ostracizing and even murdering their critics in the American progressive and labor milieux. While no murder on American soil can be pinned on CAIR, the Wahhabi organization also considers its highest priority to be discrediting its moderate Muslim critics.
I will claim no false modesty in noting that I am one of the individuals CAIR most wishes to disparage. A little more than a year ago, in March 2006, CAIR's Chicago director, Ahmed Rehab, circulated an internal memorandum calling for opposition research against me, to be publicized by a clandestine unit ostensibly "independent" of CAIR. Once again, CAIR seems to have taken a page from the Stalinist handbook, in seeking to establish a "front group" separate from the directing entity, dedicated to defamation and intimidation of its critics.
Unfortunately for the American Wahhabis, I am a published author, journalist and speaker and my biography is public. Efforts to smear me because of my long experience as a literary nonconformist – something I have no intention of disavowing – as well as my leftist past, have failed, as have comical attempts to portray me as a secret jihadist. [I previously dealt with Rehab for FSM, the antidote to the MSM, on December 20, 2006 and January 10, 2007. His 2006 memorandum is available here: www.danielpipes.org/blog/230#oppo_research].
More recently, a Detroit mosque member took notes during a speech by CAIR Michigan director Dawud Walid and sent them to me. In his diatribe, Walid removed the mask. He whined that Arabs are the main victims of anti-Muslim feelings, and denounced Balkan and other non-Arab Muslims, as well as Iraqi Shia Muslims, who are strongly represented in the Detroit area, for maintaining their separate identities, even though anybody who knows Islam recognizes that like Christianity and Judaism, it takes different cultural forms around the world.
Walid went on to describe Muslims in "the Philippines, Kashmir, Iraq, Somalia, and Algeria" – and only these countries, in all of which terrorism is a serious problem – as future victims of "humiliation." He threatened further terrorism in Iraq as a response to U.S.-led attempts to keep Sunnis and Shias from fighting. He also railed against those he called "neo-Sufis," a strange usage that could refer to the adherents of a new form of Islamic spiritualism, but is probably intended to equate certain Sufi critics of radical Islam, like myself, with neoconservatism. Walid also bragged that as an African American Muslim, he can "get away" with saying things publicly that immigrant Muslims cannot – presumably, a reference to CAIR's avowal that it seeks to Islamize America in accord with Wahhabi ideology. Finally, Walid denounced as Zionist propaganda the mass protests over the atrocities committed in Darfur.
That is, from my standpoint, the real CAIR – not a protector of civil rights, but a network dedicated to Arab supremacy in Islam, even on American territory, to the suppression of non-Arab Muslim traditions, to a legal cover for radical incitement, to slander against spiritual Muslims, and to Jew-baiting.
Nevertheless, CAIR is feeling the heat – otherwise, it would spend no time on opposition research and public campaigning against its moderate Muslim adversaries. The heat should be turned up, both inside and outside America. American and Canadian Muslim leaders can be organized against CAIR. Its main foreign backer, Saudi Arabia, may be compelled, as part of the process of reform, to cut off funding to it and other Wahhabi and radical Sunni groups around the world. CAIR may then be relegated, like American Communism, to the dustbin of history.