The Only Good Muslim Is the Anti-Muslim

For some, Barack Obama’s stature as a man of the left has fallen precipitously, like late autumn leaves shed by branches bowing to the will of winter.

Disappointment has often been self-inflicted. Supporters have dipped their pens deeply into the inkwell of Obama’s inspiring story and written their own lines on Afghanistan, oil drilling, or the death penalty — only to see these wishful words unceremoniously erased by presidential politics or the senator’s own views.

But for American Muslims and progressive allies, both eager to see an end to the vilification of Arabs and Muslims in the United States, Obama’s mantra of hope and change barely set in before it expired.

First we witnessed the embarrassing spectacle of micro-level ethnic cleansing when two Arab women with headscarves were whisked offstage ahead of a campaign photo-op in Detroit. Then we heard Obama call false claims about his purportedly Muslim identity “smears” — as if he was accused not of belonging to an Abrahamic faith observed by more than 1.2 billion people, but of slinking out of Congress to visit a brothel. Soon after we saw the senator genuflect before AIPAC and call for a permanently Israeli Jerusalem — a vision the Jewish state has assiduously tried to realize by macro-level ethnic cleansing, purging its Arab residents.

A more recent political maneuver also turned out to be a purge: the Obama campaign’s Muslim outreach coordinator, Mazen Asbahi, “resigned” this month after a brief stint of several days. The event went almost unnoticed.

But two sharply different responses to this episode — and the standing afforded to the authors of these responses — reveal that the senator is not alone in failing to stanch America’s anti-Islamic miasma. Rather, the shortcoming is a collective one, shared by many liberals whose prejudice against Muslims and Arab-Americans is surpassed only by an apparent disinterest in correcting it.

One response to the resignation came from James Zogby. An Arab-American Christian, Zogby’s credentials as a man rooted in his community are matchless. He helped found the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. He led non-sectarian campaigns to assist war victims in Palestine and Lebanon. And he serves as president of the Arab American Institute, a Washington, D.C. think tank.

Yet despite 30 years of community advocacy and experience, his views on Arab and Muslim issues appear in just two popular non-ethnic publications. One is the Huffington Post. The other is in Egypt.

Commenting on Asbahi’s short tenure, Zogby writes, “In the brief time he held his position we spoke almost daily. He learned so much and did so much to make Arab Americans and American Muslims feel included in the campaign.”

“Then,” Zogby observes, “it happened.” One of the many websites “monitoring” Muslims in America discovered that eight years ago Asbahi served on a board which included a controversial imam. Asbahi resigned from the board after two weeks.

Like vultures eyeing a wounded gazelle, the usual assortment of right-wing bloggers descended on Asbahi. They vilified him as a closet fundamentalist for once belonging to the Muslim Student Association, a well-established mainstream group with branches on dozens of college campuses across the U.S. and Canada.

Not to be outdone, the Wall Street Journal threatened to amplify the echo chamber, the walls of which reverberate with the hysterics of its associates in the right-wing “blogosphere.”

Faced with mounting pressure and bereft of support from any quarter, Asbahi and the campaign “agreed” he would relinquish his post.

This sequence of events comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with neoconservative methods. It is but a reenactment of previous attacks: the mendacious 2005 campaign to oust Columbia University professors who used Israel’s own archives to dismantle pleasant fictions about its history; the dissemination of e-mails containing crude anti-Semitic nonsense sent out in professors’ names to destroy their credibility; and the ongoing efforts to publicly intimidate universities into denying academics employment or tenure.

But amid the past few years of attacks, outrages, and, yes, smears, hurled at Muslims and Arabs in this country, one Muslim figure stands curiously unsullied: Irshad Manji. She, too, wrote about Asbahi’s dismissal, though we would do well to acquaint ourselves with the author first.

Unlike most of her coreligionists, Manji has been lavished with attention and awards by mainstream and liberal America. She garnered Oprah Winfrey’s first “Chutzpah” award, Ms. Magazine’s “Feminist for the 21st Century” seal of approval, New York University’s Wagner School “Moral Courage Project,” a column in the Huffington Post, production of a PBS documentary, and the list goes on.

In an era when Muslims find themselves boxed in by political attacks here and military assaults abroad, one wonders: what is Manji’s secret to success?

She wrote a book — and not just any book. Titled The Trouble With Islam Today, hers won applause not only from liberals but other, more interesting quarters. The Wall Street Journal praised it as “refreshingly provocative” and “deserv[ing] of the attention it is receiving.” Daniel Pipes declared, “Manji — a practicing Muslim — brings real insight to her subject.” Phyillis Chesler beamed, “Manji has written a bold, sane, passionate, compelling book.” And Alan Dershowitz announced, “Manji is a fresh, new and intriguing voice of Islamic reform.”

A fine example of damning with loud praise.

What could a Muslim have written that would delight supporters of bombing and torturing Muslims? What sweet words could have moved Daniel Pipes — who specializes in hyping anti-Islamic hysteria on Fox News and elsewhere — to welcome into his generous bosom the ideas of a “practicing Muslim?” What might motivate Alan Dershowitz, better known for backing the torture of Muslims than for reading their books, to plug Manji’s effort?

The answer lies in the content. The Trouble With Islam Today is an unhinged polemic that derides Muslims and demeans their faith. Examining a few of the book’s points should reveal what has caught the fancy of neoconservatives and liberals alike.

The author devotes two pages to comparing Osama bin Laden to Prophet Muhammad. “Is it mere happenstance,” Manji rhetorically asks, “that bin Laden spends so much time in caves, like the meditating [Prophet] did?” With penetrating and piercing logic — in the sense that one must penetrate one’s skull and pierce the cortex to succumb to it — she goes on in this vein, declaring “camel saddles” and “online transactions” twin evils. The “parallels” between Osama, the man who blesses the murder of innocent people, and Muhammad, the man who forgave the murderers of his closest companions, “continue to proliferate,” Manji insists, much to the delight of the Muslim-haters behind the curtains.

A good portion of the book is also dedicated to attacking the Quran (and the Quran alone), which the intrepid author does without any background in religious studies or a single footnote. But no matter. This book, Manji intones, is “profoundly at war with itself.” Religious texts should apparently read like do-it-yourself plumbing guides, bereft of subtlety or layers of meaning, particularly if you are trying to flush the whole thing down the toilet to boost your celebrity status among Islamophobes.

Manji’s fans must especially enjoy her excoriation of Muslims as fake victims. Muslims wallow in their “screaming self-pity,” she snickers, as though one ought to see the fuselage of cruise missiles as half-full rather than half-empty as they fly en route to the nearest wedding celebration or apartment building.

Manji’s attacks on Muslims appear almost kind next to the beating she doles out to logic itself. She surmises that since Muslims have been more harmed by Muslims than non-Muslims (based on what data or criteria, we dare not guess), there is little reason to complain about atrocities authored under the “war on terror.” She does not add whether she also ordered families of Sept. 11th victims to get over themselves when the casualties were surpassed by that year’s domestic homicides — a case of “Americans having been more harmed by Americans than non-Americans.”

Finally, Manji enjoys ridiculing dispossessed Palestinians. Ignoring over two decades of work by Jewish scholars and human rights groups on Israeli ethnic cleansing and massacres, she neatly eliminates the Palestinians altogether by dubbing them Jordanians and hails Israel for its “compassion.” It must have been precisely this “compassion” that moved 23 ANC veterans, several of them Jewish, to compare the Israeli occupation with South African apartheid during a recent visit.

Now well-acquainted with America’s favorite Muslim, let us turn to her article on the departure of Obama’s former coordinator, Mazen Asbahi.

In a Huffington Post piece, she demonstrates no concern about the vilification that enabled Asbahi’s dismissal. Indeed, she fails to mention it even once. Is this because Manji is too busy contributing to the problem to pause and reflect? Or is it because this would upset her core base — the neoconservatives who mount these smear campaigns?

Whatever the case, Manji performs her predictable pre-programmed attack routine, observing contemptuously, “…Mazen Asbahi has just resigned. I can’t say I’m disheartened. He’d been embraced by groups like the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Islamic Society of North America, renowned for their conservative politics and ‘moderate’ double-speak.”

Writing a piece occasioned by attacks on one Muslim, Manji manages to magnify the insult by attacking thousands of other Muslims.

According to her politics, anyone who does not dance to the detonation of cluster bombs is already suspect. So her invective aimed at groups representing thousands of American Muslims, which she never bothers to back up with arguments, is understandable.

Not yet satisfied with herself, she goes on to pant about “most” American Muslims being stuck in a 7th century — or perhaps 10th century, depending on her mood — “time warp.” Serving as 21st century America’s doctors, teachers, engineers, shopkeepers, and plant workers, Muslims have been too busy to notice this worrisome defect.

Concluding with a few shopworn words about “moral courage” and “revolutionary ethos,” Manji polishes off her attacks on the community by invoking vague platitudes about Muslim “reform.”

This is Manji’s sole gimmick: disingenuous calls for Muslims to move forward belied by support for those pulling America backward.

What does the liberal adulation of a professional Islamophobe — one openly adored by neoconservatives, no less — say about the state of American liberalism? Will liberals come to respect and support genuine Muslim and Arab voices, like Zogby and countless unrecognized figures? Or will they continue to lazily rely on self-professed stand-ins like Irshad Manji?

If liberalism persists on its present path, it will not only alienate a targeted community in America but pave the way for further persecution.

Perfectly illustrating this point is the New York Times’ fawning characterization of Manji as “Osama bin Laden’s worst nightmare.” This is very far from the truth.

For years, many Muslim and non-Muslim voices have said bin Laden’s ideology is a freak phenomenon, fashioned in the ghoulish laboratory of Cold War politics and fed on a steady diet of American-Israeli assaults in the Middle East. At odds with more than 1,300 years of Muslim thought and history, these voices have insisted, bin Laden is a perversion of genuine Islam.

But Manji argues the opposite: bin Laden is a genuine product of Islam, which is itself perverted. Osama, we will recall, is for Manji the new Muhammad.

In showering attention and accolades on Manji, many liberals thus validate and promote the idea that extremist Islam is Islam itself. Could bin Laden dream of a greater gift? Could the neoconservatives?

Perhaps liberals find Manji’s message appealing because ascribing extremism to some innate feature of Islam “disappears” from view the consequences of American foreign policy. Invasion and occupation disappear. Torture and abuse disappear. Corpses of slaughtered civilians and carrions of neutralized nations disappear.

The desire to own a clear conscience, even one obtained through the muddiest logic, should never be underestimated.

There may be other answers: a fear of questioning the dominant narrative; of criticizing Israel; of discovering Islamic perspectives; of engaging the Other, who is often harangued but rarely heard.

Whatever the reason, American liberals would do well to stop glorifying anti-Muslim celebrities and start building relationships with honest Arab and Muslim voices.

We are waiting.

M. Junaid Levesque-Alam blogs about America and Islam at Crossing the Crescent and writes about American Muslim identity for WireTap magazine. Co-founder of Left Hook, a youth journal that ran from Nov. 2003 to March 2006, he works as a communications coordinator for an anti-domestic violence agency in the NYC area. He can be reached at: junaidalam1 AT gmail.com. Read other articles by M. Junaid, or visit M. Junaid's website.

32 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Danny Ray said on August 25th, 2008 at 7:38am #

    Whatever the reason, American liberals would do well to stop glorifying anti-Muslim celebrities and start building relationships with honest Arab and Muslim voices.

    Are there any honest Arab voices? Or, Are they all out selling their girl children and beating their wives?

    If a Christian fundmentalist cult acted in this manner the American left would be preaching a crusade.

    In this site just yesterday there was a very bad satire piece about bible study in Texas schools and no one was appalled that the poor fundamentalist Christians were being made fun of, or being ridiculed for there beliefs.

    Arranged marriages, Honor killings, Female circumcision, blood feuds, how much more like the tenth century can you get?

    Lets face it guys the great Muslim scholars of the Middle Ages are gone, we owe them more than we will ever know for the arts and science they saved for us during the dark ages. But that was then, when Europe went thru the renaissance they appear to have slid backward into the dark ages. Yes, the people who gave us the concept of zero which we could never advance without, who built the great Mosque in Bagdad and the Alhambra in Spain and the great caliphs who loved learning and paid to have it perpetuated are gone and have been replaced by tribesmen that Gingas Khan would have been proud to know.

    Ms Manji has written an excellent book. In it, she takes to task the leaders of her religion. She takes the course that no one should treat anyone as the Moslems treat their own. In addition, I thank her for it.

  2. Steven Miller said on August 25th, 2008 at 9:17am #

    “One of the many websites “monitoring” Muslims in America discovered that eight years ago Asbahi served on a board which included a controversial imam. Asbahi resigned from the board after two weeks. Like vultures eyeing a wounded gazelle, the usual assortment of right-wing bloggers descended on Asbahi. They vilified him as a closet fundamentalist for once belonging to the Muslim Student Association, a well-established mainstream group with branches on dozens of college campuses across the U.S. and Canada.
    Not to be outdone, the Wall Street Journal threatened to amplify the echo chamber, the walls of which reverberate with the hysterics of its associates in the right-wing “blogosphere.” Faced with mounting pressure and bereft of support from any quarter, Asbahi and the campaign “agreed” he would relinquish his post.”

    The only problem with this characterization is that it is a complete fantasy. The publication in question has already noted:

    http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/id.845/pub_detail.asp

    that between the time it revealed the information and the time that the Journal broke the story, there were NO blogs that wrote even a single word about Mr. Asbahi’s connections which can be confirmed by anybody who is willing to do a simple search:

    http://blogsearch.google.com/blogsearch?q=mazen%20asbahi%22&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wb

    Asbahi resigned shortly after receiving the Journal query and BEFORE the story broke which was then followed by a flood of news and blog stories. To repeat, Asbahi’s resignation could not have been the result of the ” hysterics of its associates in the right-wing “blogosphere” because were virtually no blogs that said a word about this until after he had already resigned.

    It appears that the “right-wing blogosphere” narrative was constructed to support the agenda of the groups in question.

  3. cg said on August 25th, 2008 at 10:12am #

    Danny, I believe you’ve confused the Hindus and Muslims. The so-called Arabic number system was brought from India, just as Pythagoras also went to India to “discover” his theorem.
    The vast majority of people, even supposed intellectuals, still cling to outdated and convenient history such as the “Aryan invasion theory” and the Muslim deceptions of building the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort and many other already existing structures.
    Much of history is hidden in plain sight.

    http://www.hinduism.co.za/vedic.htm

    http://www.stephen-knapp.com/was_the_taj_mahal_a_vedic_temple.htm

  4. Rich Griffin said on August 25th, 2008 at 12:41pm #

    I have a different point of view: I’m not sympathetic to ANY religions, because I don’t believe it is healthy or wise to continue delusional thinking that costs people their lives. I’m particularly against religions that impose anti-gay and anti-women values that are oppressive and deadly. I am opposed to any state funding of “faith based initiatives” or tax breaks for what are in actuality businesses. The god delusion is so strong and so heartbreaking. How many lives are lost through senseless murders in wars based on a desire for religious superiority? Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try, no hell below us, above us only sky, imagine all the people, living life in peace….. (John Lennon, “Imagine” – the atheist international anthem)

  5. Giorgio said on August 25th, 2008 at 1:58pm #

    Danny Ray,

    Even if “Arranged marriages, Honor killings, Female circumcision, blood feuds” were the reality of the Muslim world today as you believe and state, do you honestly think that that in itself justifies the misery, oppression, and ethnic cleansing being perpetrated by Israel on Muslims?…and if it comes to the push even nuke and obliterate large numbers of them?

    It’s obvious that since in your view “there aren’t any honest Arab voices” around and that “they appear to have slid backward into the dark ages”, your answer to the above question would be a resounding: YES !

    That being so, I regret to inform you that in my view you appear to have slid far back past the dark ages into the age of mankind’s humble beginnings: the APE !

  6. Danny Ray said on August 25th, 2008 at 3:02pm #

    Cg.

    I beg your pardon, if I in any slighted the wonderful things, no even the cornerstones of civilization that came from India. In addition, I was aware that our Arabic numerical system came from there. The point I was trying to make was that the Muslim world was once such a place of knowledge and learning it was a truly wonderful world with a great deal of tolerance for everyone, especially other people of the book. Compared to the pit into which the Muslim world has slid the court of Abd al- Rahman or Harun al-Rashid must really seem like a paradise.

  7. Danny Ray said on August 25th, 2008 at 3:05pm #

    Giorgio

    Thank you I think that was the nicest insult anyone ever paid me.

  8. cg said on August 25th, 2008 at 3:14pm #

    Danny Ray, thanks for your reply.

    Rich Griffin, things aren’t always as they seem..

    Reporter: Where do you get your strength?
    John Lennon: From Hare Krishna.
    Yoko Ono: That’s where we get it from, you know.
    We’re not denying it.

  9. Danny Ray said on August 25th, 2008 at 3:47pm #

    Giorgio

    My apologies to everyone else reading this for my continued domination of the subject. However I felt that I had to at least answer my Italian friend.

    As to arranged marriages, honor killings, blood feuds and female mutilation I can state that these go on. I attended a marriage feast in which the bride was three ( we never saw her) and the groom was a lusty lad of sixteen. I saw two children in Ashgabat Turkmenistan have gas poured over them and then be set alight by a father who stated that they were not his, as he knew his wife had been unfaithful. Both children died screaming within a few feet of me.( the wife was at home with her neck sliced clean thru). I still wake up sweating over that.
    I also saw a young wife in Kabul with he throat slit because she had spoken to a neighbor over a ten foot wall. She had never seen this guy and only told him to keep his chickens on his side of the fence. As to blood feud, I watched one Afghan trooper stab another in the back because the victim’s uncle had killed the troopers cousin five years ago.

    As to female circumcision I can’t speak for that. It is said to be a common practice. But I make it a rule to NEVER dally with Moslem women, its safer to play with blasting caps and fire.

    That being said the article isn’t about Jews killing the faithful or even Americans killing the faithful. The article is about a book about Moslem treatment of Moslems. This on a good day is deplorable.

    You read the head lines from Iraq its not Americans killing Arabs its Arabs blowing there own countrymen up. You read where a school teacher is killed because he taught something the Mullas didn’t like. You read where a child was killed because he questioned the work of a religious teacher.

    Now to the rest of you I will give you my word no another note from me till later this week at the very least.

  10. Sheldon said on August 25th, 2008 at 9:01pm #

    “Asbahi resigned shortly after receiving the Journal query and BEFORE the story broke which was then followed by a flood of news and blog stories.”

    Steve,
    Could it be the case that Asbahi resigned in anticipation of what would be a predictable response for the right-wing blogosphere? Maybe he got wind of the story breaking, and in the better interest of the Obama campaign resigned? I don’t know, I am just asking.

    Danny said:
    “You read the head lines from Iraq its not Americans killing Arabs its Arabs blowing there own countrymen up.”

    Lets not be too hasty here! Americans have indeed killed lots of Iraqi civilians, not that your point is not well taken about sectarian violence also occurring.

    All,
    I too am an atheist, and hold all religion in low esteem. But I try to not let my disdain for religion lead me to the dehumanization or hatred of religious peoples, Muslim or Christian. That I think is the broader point of the article. I would hope that people would engage with Alam’s argument here:

    “Perhaps liberals find Manji’s message appealing because ascribing extremism to some innate feature of Islam “disappears” from view the consequences of American foreign policy. Invasion and occupation disappear. Torture and abuse disappear. Corpses of slaughtered civilians and carrions of neutralized nations disappear.”

  11. Steven Miller said on August 26th, 2008 at 3:34am #

    “Steve,
    Could it be the case that Asbahi resigned in anticipation of what would be a predictable response for the right-wing blogosphere? Maybe he got wind of the story breaking, and in the better interest of the Obama campaign resigned? I don’t know, I am just asking.”

    Many things “could” be the case and it might also be that Asbahi knew that more would come out so he he resigned preemptively. Who knows? What we do know is that the “left-wing blogosphere” and the U.S. Brotherhood organizations did, in fact, construct their predictable response which was to construct this false narrative about “smears” and “extremist” bloggers forcing Asbahi to resign.

    Don’t get me wrong, there were also distortions from bloggers critical of Asbahi .It seems that few people on either side chose to read the original reporting on the story:

    http://www.douglasfarah.com/article/384/a-look-at-the-resignation-of-mazen-asbahi-and-the-muslim-brotherhood.com

    which showed that Asbahi was the part of many organizations in question but that never accused him or made any allegations other than that.

    I only chose to make my original comments here because what was said in the original post “The Only Good Muslim Is the Anti-Muslim” was just wildly inaccurate from what I read on this issue.

  12. Hue Longer said on August 26th, 2008 at 5:24am #

    I once saw two black men hold up a bar I was in…what should my take on black folks be, Danny? I also read that a born again christian named Rudolf blew up some doctors for performing abortions…what should I feel about christians? I’m not defending female mutilation, but are you defending male mutilation? I’m not defending horror done in the name of Islam, but I find you to be selectively moral and prejudiced when grouping all Muslims together.

    When an American cop sticks a plunger into the rectum of a prisoner, the world doesn’t point out that he was a christian

    When a US helicopter or jet attacks a wedding, the world doesn’t say, “god damned christians”

    They DO say, “fucking hypocritical Americans”

  13. Junaid said on August 26th, 2008 at 9:16am #

    It strikes me that you are cannot see the trees for the leaves let alone for the forest for the trees.

    This is a presidential campaign staff which proudly features hawks and centrists responsible for policies that have killed hundreds of thousands of people.

    Where is the ‘investigative’ reporting for Obama’s Israeli partisans who cheerlead the slow suffocation of the concentration camp that is the Gaza Strip? Where is the questioning of their associations with a fundamentalist government that holds Jews as superior to Arabs, building exclusive settlements and roads for the former while bulldozing and bombing the latter?

    Of course we it is not fashionable to speak of such open support for apartheid, which might remind certain atrophied minds of that quaint saying, “all men are created equal.”

    The WSJ, run and owned by pro-Israeli sycophants, spearheaded the hit job, which is laughable in its thin sourcing and insinuations. Meanwhile that organ maintains a most respectful silence about its own undeniable role in cheerleading the disastrous invasion of Iraq and the deliberate attacks on Lebanon’s civilian population. It also maintains close links with its attack dogs in the blathersphere.

    Asbahi was forced to resign only because the same Jewish fundamentalists who are trying to “purify” Palestinian land through kidnapping, torture, starvation, and killing, are trying with equal vigor to “disappear” American Muslims from the American political landscape.

    Citing technicalities from such ‘prestigious’ sources as ‘familysecuritymatters’ is not going to wash away this fundamental reality.

  14. sgmiller said on August 27th, 2008 at 3:37am #

    “It strikes me that you are cannot see the trees for the leaves let alone for the forest for the trees.”

    Let me translate that– in other words, I don’t support your sweeping charges, made without a shred of evidence, that the “right-wing blogosphere” conspired with the Wall Street Journal to bring down Mazen Asbahi simply because he was a Muslim. In that sense you are right, I cannot see that because it is demonstrably not true.

    “Asbahi was forced to resign only because the same Jewish fundamentalists who are trying to “purify” Palestinian land through kidnapping, torture, starvation, and killing, are trying with equal vigor to “disappear” American Muslims from the American political landscape.”

    Ah yes, it finally comes out as always. The Jews are behind it.

    “Citing technicalities from such ‘prestigious’ sources as ‘familysecuritymatters’ is not going to wash away this fundamental reality.”

    Just shows that you have not read the material in question. The link from Family Security Matters simply pointed to a reprint from the Internet Newsletter in question which contained such “technicalities” as what actually transpired during this affair as opposed to the demonstrably false narrative that was constructed here.

    I won’t bother to address or dignify the rest of it. Mazen Asbahi resigned after a major newspaper properly queries him about possible links to the Muslim Brotherhood. The American people have a right to know and be interested in whether or not an adviser (and possible member of a future administration) has ties to an organization deeply inimicable to U.S. interests. I might add that the same story was carried by hundreds of other news organizations which must all be in on the conspiracy I guess.

    In the end, what was written here is actually an example of the accusations directed against others- a “smear” based on absolutely no evidence that appears to have been made purely for ideological reasons and carried on what was so derogatorily referred to as the “blathersphere.” It is actually a disservice to the U.S. Muslim community who are not well-served by their well-funded organizations who are actually the players in this game who do not wish to see a mature, completely integrated U.S. Muslim community.

  15. AJ Nasreddin said on August 27th, 2008 at 3:40am #

    I think the article is trying to highlight the fact that one ought to check their sources and see who is writing what and what the author’s background and biases might be. Do you watch commercials about McCain or Obama and believe them out right? You never get suspicious when they tell you who paid for the ad? When a TV ad tells you beef is good to eat, you don’t notice that it’s the beef industry paying for the ad?

    Steve, your sources indicate they come from the neo-con right. Why should we believe them? They have proven themselves as liars. Have you got other sources?

    Cg, the Indians contributed a lot, but after looking at your source, Stephen Knapp, merely proves his knowledge of Hinduism and ignorance of Islam.

    Overall, the comments merely point out that most of you don’t care about being any more informed about Islam or Muslims than the media cares to tell you about. True, Muslims are at the bottom of the stack in most cases – but it is not a problem of religion but of politics. There are a lot of hard working, inventive, intelligent Muslims living among you in the West – where until recently most anyone was welcomed. They’re living in the West because of the western ideological imported regimes that suppress innovation and development (most of which purport to be “socialist” Sheldon) in their home countries. Add to that the limited development the rest of the world allows Muslim countries to have by limiting trade.

  16. sgmiller said on August 27th, 2008 at 6:01am #

    “I think the article is trying to highlight the fact that one ought to check their sources and see who is writing what and what the author’s background and biases might be. ”

    You are kidding right? You think this is what the article says? If that is what it said, I would never have started this thread but what is actually says, and I quote:

    “Like vultures eyeing a wounded gazelle, the usual assortment of right-wing bloggers descended on Asbahi.”

    This is what is says and this is what I refuted because, according to the evidence, it was not true which anybody can check as I already suggested.

    “Steve, your sources indicate they come from the neo-con right. Why should we believe them? They have proven themselves as liars. Have you got other sources?”

    In fact, this argument is NOT about “sources” because my sources were the newsletter in question and the Journal presented the facts which were that Asbahi was part of the leadership of five organizations that are part of or connected to U.S. Muslim Brotherhood organizations. You may not like it, or think that the people who wrote it are “neo-conservatives (codeword perhaps?), or perhaps wish it were somehow not true. However, unlike the statements here and during the entire issue, not a single shred of evidence was offered that the facts as presented by the newsletter and newspaper were untrue. The people shrieking “smear” have never read the original reports. That much is clear. If those people actually did care about the facts, they would have taken the time to do so because that it was people who care about facts actually do. (as opposed to people who claim they do).

    A careful reading of the original reports show that the Wall Street Journal inquired about the connections raised by a newsletter (based on public documents which I read), and which any good journalist would also have asked about based on the importance of the issue. The guy resigned and the Journal then wrote a story about it which, based on actually reading the story, presented nothing more than the facts which once again have never been challenged. I don’t need to present any other sources because I read the original reports, clicked on the public documents which were referenced, and all of them were what they were claimed to be.

    “The comments merely point out that most of you don’t care about being any more informed about Islam or Muslims than the media cares to tell you about.”

    The debate about Asbahi is nothing to do with “Islam or Muslims” in general all though that is what some are trying to turn it into. The Muslim organizations which claim to represent U.S. Muslims the put out the story that Asbahi was “smeared” and hounded out of his position. Perhaps you would like to check the “background and biases” of those organizations. Yes, there was also some political posturing from the right-side of the blogosphere AFTER the fact as well as from the left who supported the “smear” narrative but the newsletter and Wall Street Journal to not appear to have been part of that debate based again on what they actually wrote as opposed to what critics say they wrote or their alleged motivations.

    In the end, this kind of thing actually does a disservice to the U.S. Muslim community by siding with organizations who claim to represent them but who actually have political agendas that originate from outside the U.S. This does not assist in the development of indigenous, truly representative organizations without such agendas. The charge that the “Jews” are behind it all discredits everything that is written here because, unlike speculation abut motivations, that shows clear the mindset of the person who wrote it.

  17. Junaid said on August 27th, 2008 at 6:49am #

    Attempts to defend the neocon smear campaign are quite clownish and reflect the intellectual and moral poverty of the entire effort.

    Based on some nebulous registration-only “report” that purports to “monitor” Muslims deemed by the unidentified characters running the “report” be “Muslim Brotherhood” members, we are supposed to believe Asbahi has terrorist links.

    The only problem is that the only mainstream piece of “evidence” connecting all this is the lengthy Chicago Tribune piece on inner mosque politics. From this piece we learn three things: American government agents harassed the community and dutifully traveled to Israel time and again for their “information” sessions; no one was found guilty of anything whatsoever despite the hate-filled post-Sept.11th atmosphere in which many American Muslims were rounded up and abused; some kind of mob tried to march on the Muslim community.

    So let’s get this straight. A guy, who served for two weeks on a board, that had an imam found not guilty of anything, in a community harassed by FBI agents, who were in turn coordinating with the Israeli government deemed racist by those who know racism best (ANC), has “terrorist links,” because a little-known neocon report says so.

    Consider me convinced, gentlemen; where can I get a pitchfork?

  18. Junaid said on August 27th, 2008 at 6:57am #

    Oh, and when this pathetic bit of “evidence” is finally revealed for what it is, get desperate and just insert the word “Jew” a few times to invoke the good-old emotional extortion technique of charging your opponent with anti-Semitism.

    It makes everything doubly convincing!

  19. sgmiller said on August 27th, 2008 at 7:16am #

    “Attempts to defend the neocon smear campaign are quite clownish and reflect the intellectual and moral poverty of the entire effort.”

    Oh how predictable– name calling, usually the beginning of the end of serious debate. Also, repeat over and over the accusation “neocon smear campaign” instead of dealing with the evidence presented that it cannot be true…also a predictable but, in the end, tiresome tactic.

    “Based on some nebulous registration-only “report” that purports to “monitor” Muslims deemed by the unidentified characters running the “report” be “Muslim Brotherhood” members, we are supposed to believe Asbahi has terrorist links.”

    Another good tactic….put words in quotes to make them seem dubious. Don’t actually read the publication in question to find out what was really said and where the words “terrorist links” were never used.

    “The only problem is that the only mainstream piece of “evidence” connecting all this is the lengthy Chicago Tribune piece on inner mosque politics”

    Not true actually. That was the connection that was focused upon but actually reading the reports would show there were others. As for the Tribune investigation, I guess that is now included in the conspiracy (Jewish fundamentalists at work here as well?)

    “So let’s get this straight. A guy, who served for two weeks on a board, that had an imam found not guilty of anything, in a community harassed by FBI agents, who were in turn coordinating with the Israeli government deemed racist by those who know racism best (ANC), has “terrorist links,” because a little-known neocon report says so.”

    Yes, lets get it straight actually. As opposed to what you write, a publication with no known political affiliation says that Mazen Asbahi is part of the leadership of five organizations tied to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and presents public documents that anybody can check for themselves to back that up, BUT it would be better to believe people who have never actually read the reports who use the term “terrorist” links when the report in question never once used those terms.

    ” insert the word “Jew” a few times to invoke the good-old emotional extortion technique of charging your opponent with anti-Semitism.”

    Another good tactic….accuse others of what you yourself have done. I quote from your own statement:

    “Asbahi was forced to resign only because the same Jewish fundamentalists who are trying to “purify” Palestinian land through kidnapping, torture, starvation, and killing, are trying with equal vigor to “disappear” American Muslims from the American political landscape.

    So you charge that Jews, and the same Jews we note, are both ethnically cleansing Palestine and plotting to eliminate all U.S. Muslims from politics. I actually hadn’t seen the evidence you must have that the Wall Street Journal or the internet newsletter in question are actually “Jewish Fundamentalists.” (I suppose there might be “Jews” working there). If you have the evidence that “Jews” or, more properly Jewish Fundamentalists” are behind all this, please submit it or I think we have to conclude that concocting nefarious conspiracies involving “Jews” is strong evidence, or at least consistent, with anti-Semitism.

  20. Junaid said on August 27th, 2008 at 7:33am #

    This just in, folks, the WSJ editorial board is apparently *not* comprised of Jewish fundamentalists who advocate the political extermination (or politicide, as the late Israeli historian Baruch Kimmerling called it) of the Palestinians.

    Have you ever read the WSJ and its editorial contents? Their view of Arabs is worse than the Klan’s view of Jews. If you take the word ‘Arab’ or ‘Palestinian’ in any of its editorial columns, and substitute it for ‘Jew’, then you basically have a Klan screed. Same goes for Jihad Watch or FrontPageMag or other Jewish fundamentalist websites which try to wrap themselves in American patriotism by inciting anti-Muslim hatred.

    I’m sorry to say you’ve lost whatever inkling of credibility you may have once imagined yourself to possess, if you do not even know the political orientation of the WSJ editors. Either that or you have never read any scholarship from Israeli universities on Israeli ethnic cleansing and torture, and thus imagine the WSJ’s position to be entirely reasonable.

    Your further comment that a registration-only unidentified website called “Global Muslim Brotherhood Report” has “no known affiliations” – in light of copycat entities like “Jihadwatch” and its open ties with other rabidly pro-Israeli organs, does not help your credibility.

    It is deliciously ironic that you are falling over yourself to prove Asbahi is a Muslim fundamentalist based on nothing but sources of sources of open Jewish fundamentalism (the belief in Israeli expansionism as God’s decree), and raise hysterics when it is identified as such, even though the WSJ’s position is there for anyone to read.

  21. sgmiller said on August 27th, 2008 at 7:58am #

    “This just in, folks, the WSJ editorial board is apparently *not* comprised of Jewish fundamentalists who advocate the political extermination (or politicide, as the late Israeli historian Baruch Kimmerling called it) of the Palestinians”

    Hmmm….first you deny the anti-semitism then amplify it further. I think most sane people would be interested to learn that the Wall Street Editorial board is “comprised of Jewish fundamentalists.” I won’t even dignify that comment by taking it up further.

    However, I would say that the editorial page can be certainly be considered “conservative” which is hardly a world-shaking revelation but if you knew anything about U.S. newspapers, you would realize that the Editorial page operation is pretty much separate from the news-page and that those reporters are generally quite mixed in their political opinions. In any event, I am not quite sure what this has to do with a genuine news story which was repeated by hundreds of other news outlets evidently unaware as you and your readers are that the whole thing was concocted by “Jewish Fundamentalists” who no doubt exert their evil control over the rest of the news media, not one of which contradicted the story.

    “Your further comment that a registration-only unidentified website called “Global Muslim Brotherhood Report” has “no known affiliations” – in light of copycat entities like “Jihadwatch” and its open ties with other rabidly pro-Israeli organs, does not help your credibility.”

    I would say instead that YOUR credibility is not enhanced by persistent characterizations of a publication you evidently have never read. Having actually read both, I personally see no connections between the newsletter in question and Jihad Watch (both run by “Jewish Fundamentalists” perhaps?

    “It is deliciously ironic that you are falling over yourself to prove Asbahi is a Muslim fundamentalist based on nothing but sources of sources of open Jewish fundamentalism”

    Unfortunately, you seem constitutionally incapable of staying with an argument. I have no desire to prove that Asbahi is a “Muslim Fundamentalist” or anything else. Frankly, I could care less what he is or isn’t other than how it pertains to my country. I was interested to learn of his leadership position in these Brotherhood organizations and wish that the subject could have been explored further. Still, its interesting that the words “terrorist ties” have now changed to “Muslim Fundamentalist.”

    As far as “sources of open Jewish fundamentalism”…well….sorry to say that you have now descended into the dark regions of anti-Semitism once again being guilty of what you accuse others of doing (racism). I will stay with the WSJ since that is so well known, but I dare say that the idea that the newspaper has some kind of institutional belief in “Israeli expansionism as God’s decree” is, how can I put it, well..whacky to say the least. That does seem to be the message that the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood puts out in general (that Jews control the media) so I guess the arguments here are no coincidence.

    So, I will sign-off this page giving you, no doubt, your opportunity for the last round of baseless claims, groundless arguments, and yes anti-semitism. If you actually ever choose to have a sane discussion based on the facts of the Asbahi matter, I would be glad to take it up again, but I submit that to most reasonable people can see where you are coming from. I know nothing about you Sir, but I submit you are also doing a great disservice to the U.S. Muslim community by this kind of foul rhetoric.

    I would add that my future silence on any further accusations should not be taken for consent but rather for disdain and an unwillingness to waste my time further here.

  22. sgmiller said on August 27th, 2008 at 8:03am #

    Please forgive me for not adding:

    “Have you ever read the WSJ and its editorial contents? Their view of Arabs is worse than the Klan’s view of Jews. If you take the word ‘Arab’ or ‘Palestinian’ in any of its editorial columns, and substitute it for ‘Jew’, then you basically have a Klan screed. ”

    This only goes to show that you have read neither the publications of the KKK or the Wall Street Journal either. You might want to back up this claim by taking an actually WSJ editorial and do what you suggest, comparing it side by side with a Klan statement about Jews. Lets actually see how they compare.

    Gone for good this time (really!)

  23. Junaid said on August 27th, 2008 at 8:26am #

    Your cluelessness on Israeli politics does you no service. The very basis of the Likud party’s ideology is the idea, often stated by Israeli leaders, that ancient Israel belongs to the Jews by divine decree and that the Arabs living there are simply in the way and must be removed and destroyed. That is the basis of the settlement project and its racist policies, identified as apartheid by those who suffered under apartheid – a fact you dutifully ignore.

    I cannot be bothered to read to you, like a child being tucked into bed, the entire scholarship on the birth and development of Zionism. If you want to learn something then read Israeli historians whose research is based on declassified archives, like Simha Flapan or Ilan Pappe or Benny Morris’ works. Or maybe these scholars are also part of your imagined anti-Semitic conspiracy?

    But do you really manage to deceive yourself by ritually chanting “anti-Semitism?” It’s telling that you employ the same smear tactics you claim were never used against Asbahi – the same smear tactics I referenced in my article that were used against Columbia academics, and American Jews critical of Israel. Wail about “anti-Semitism” when facts are at play to intimidate people. Very telling indeed.

    By the way, one of the WSJ’s newest additions is Bret Stephens, former editor-in-chief of the right-wing Jerusalem Post, whose editorial board fulminates for war with Iran. This is also the newspaper that labeled one of the chief architects of the Iraqi disaster, Paul Wolfowitz, ‘Man of the Year.’

    Wolfowitz, in turn, was a Pentagon insider who fervently pushed for greater collaboration between Christian fundamentalists, who see Jewish presence in Israel as a fulfillment of prophecy, and his Likud friends in Israel. (http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2002/09/ma_109_01.html)

    Oh, but there’s nothing to see here, gentlemen. Move along or otherwise you’re an anti-Semite.

  24. sgmiller said on August 27th, 2008 at 8:56am #

    Ok, I promised to leave, I guess one more shot is in order :)

    “Your cluelessness on Israeli politics does you no service. ”

    I am afraid that your inability to stay with a subject is the disservice. Did I make a single comment on Israeli politic? Does not the introjection of the subject not further support the idea that the “Jews” are behind Asbahi’s resignation?

    “But do you really manage to deceive yourself by ritually chanting “anti-Semitism?” ”

    Ritually? Hmmm…first you claim that “Jewish Fundamentalists” control the Wall Street Journal and that the same “Jews” both plot the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the downfall of Mazen Asbahi. Oh! Now I get it, because I don’t endorse your anti-semitic, paranoid worldview, I don’t understand “Israeli politics.” So, what the early Israeli’s did or did not plan to do, a subject under much academic debate, is somehow relevant to the Mazen Asbahi affair? How is that exactly? Oh, I forgot that you have publicly available evidence that the “Jewish Fundamentalists” were behind it all. (oops, I mentioned anti-semitism again).

    “one of the WSJ’s newest additions is Bret Stephens, former editor-in-chief of the right-wing Jerusalem Post, ”

    Wow! That proves it. One of the WSJ editorial board guys (1 out of what 15 or so) worked for the Jerusalem Post for two years. I see….thats the proof that the Wall Street Journal is controlled by:

    “….the same Jewish fundamentalists who are trying to “purify” Palestinian land through kidnapping, torture, starvation, and killing, are trying with equal vigor to “disappear” American Muslims from the American political landscape.

    Oops, there I go again ritually chanting anti-Semitism. Charging that “Jewish fundamentalists” control the media and are plotting to “disappear” U.S. Muslims, thats not at all anti-Semitic is it?

    “there’s nothing to see here, gentlemen. ”

    Lots to see hear actually- somebody parroting the crud peddled by the Muslim Brotherhood worldwide, that “The Jews” control everything and are plotting the downfall of Muslims everywhere.

    I will make an agreement with you:

    1) Produce a shred of evidence for your original claim that “right-wing bloggers” brought down Mazen Asbai by referring to the original reports and timeline of events rather than second and third hand reports.

    2) Produce a shred of evidence that “Jewish fundamentalists” were behind this in some sort of conspiracy to deny U.S. Muslims political participation. Mind you, the fact that Bret Stevens is on the WSJ editorial board is not actually evidence.

    If you do that, I will rejoin you and become a convert to your cause. I suspect instead another barrage of irrelevant facts, ad hominen attacks, and further digressions from anything resembling a point. If you can’t do that, do us all a favor and don’t add further to a “blogosphere” that has a reputation for muck.

  25. Junaid said on August 27th, 2008 at 9:14am #

    I almost pity you, sir – almost. You project arguments, twist quotes, and construct strawmen, so that a simple observation that Jewish extremists are attacking Muslims (confirmed by any human rights group and many Israeli op-eds) becomes in your warped mind an accusation of a Jewish-controlled this and Jewish-controlled that.

    If only your heightened ‘sensitivities’ extended to those actually under attack in this world: the people subjected to Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, cluster bombs, cruise missiles – and, above all, subjected to the attacks of victimizers carried out by those who flash their trump victim card of crying ‘anti-Semitism.’

    As Yitzakh Rabin told an American Jewish gathering, Israel and its allies ought to stop pretending they are victims. Of course, shortly thereafter he was murdered by Jewish fundamentalists.

  26. sgmiller said on August 27th, 2008 at 9:30am #

    “You project arguments, twist quotes, and construct strawmen, so that a simple observation that Jewish extremists are attacking Muslims (confirmed by any human rights group and many Israeli op-eds) becomes in your warped mind an accusation of a Jewish-controlled this and Jewish-controlled that.”

    Ok, this is the actual statement you made above:

    “Asbahi was forced to resign only because the same Jewish fundamentalists who are trying to “purify” Palestinian land through kidnapping, torture, starvation, and killing, are trying with equal vigor to “disappear” American Muslims from the American political landscape.

    This was followed by YOUR assertion that the Wall Street JOurnal is controlled by the same “Jewish fundamentalists”

    It takes some form of extreme self-delusion to make the above statement and turn around and say that I was the one who made “an accusation of a Jewish-controlled this and Jewish-controlled that.” Lets get this straight. You are Person A and I am Person B. Person A (you) made the above statement that “Jewish fundamentalists” were:

    A. Behind the ethnic cleansing of Palestine
    B. The resignation of Mazen Asbahi
    C. The Editorial Board (and apparently) the newsroom of the Wall Street Journal

    Person B (me) simply made reference to what you said.

    Now Person A (you) adds,

    “if only your heightened ’sensitivities’ extended to those actually under attack in this world: the people subjected to Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, cluster bombs, cruise missiles – and, above all, subjected to the attacks of victimizers carried out by those who flash their trump victim card of crying ‘anti-Semitism.’

    Hmm, now you have somehow linked me to “Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, cluster bombs, cruise missiles.” Lets see, I don’t agree that Mazen Asbahi was the victim of “Jewish Fundamentalists” so therefore I must be..what…oh yes a “Jewish Fundamentalist” and then somehow connected to all of the above. Am I following?…its hard you know because its all so deranged really.

    To sum up. Person A (you) makes a comment that by any common standard is anti-Semitic and when Person B (me) makes note of that, is accused of “flashing a trump card?” Is that about right?

    Why don’t we return to my challenge to you which was to produce actual evidence for your arguments? Evidence is what distinguishes the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers from blogs like this. They actually have the old fashioned idea that in a news story, you actually should produce some facts.

  27. cg said on August 27th, 2008 at 9:59am #

    AJ, pictures don’t lie, but the actions taken to deceive do lie.
    Those photos speak for themselves.
    Also, Mr. Knapp wasn’t the only source of proof and to attempt to say and believe he is, to ignore all those other professors and archeologists is very untruthful.
    Do you have any idea what Arabia was like before Islam?
    Do you even know where the name Arabia came from? Or the Haj? Or Mecca?
    I wonder.

    http://www.vnn.org/editorials/ET9906/ET04-4033.html

  28. Sheldon said on August 27th, 2008 at 9:52pm #

    “They’re living in the West because of the western ideological imported regimes that suppress innovation and development (most of which purport to be “socialist” Sheldon) in their home countries.”

    AJ,
    Is there really any reason for you to carry your snide strawman remarks over to this thread when socialism is not even the topic?

    Precisely what countries are you speaking of?

    Are they countries in which the working class is the leading class, or are they dictatorships?

    That they purport to be socialist is of no importance if we wish to engage in the subject in a substantive manner. You have demonstrated that you react to a word “socialism” with a ready set of ideological platitudes that inhibits discussion. That is not the topic here, so I will leave it at that.

  29. AJ Nasreddin said on August 28th, 2008 at 2:40am #

    Sheldon,
    I apologize if I suggest that you would support any Middle Eastern regime. And it is wrong of me to try to link two different threads together with the assumption everyone else is following any of it at all. But not to dwell on it too much, I will say that most of the “socialist” countries followed the script of Animal Farm.

  30. AJ Nasreddin said on August 28th, 2008 at 2:46am #

    CG,
    I work in media – pictures can say anything you want them to say. Many of the conclusions drawn by Knapp et al might have validity within the Hindu tradition, but his ignorance of Islam shows through by failing to consider any aspect of it. For example, Knapp says mausoleums should be “quiet” places. Go to a Muslim shrine and you’ll see lots of activity – hardly “quiet” at all. Why have a well in a mausoleum? It is customary for Muslims to offer a prayer when visiting the dead – for prayer, Muslims need ablution, for ablution there needs to be water – get the logic? The 8 sided buildings may represent Hindu ideas of 10 directions, but 8 sided buildings are also representative of Islamic sacred geometry – the 8 sided building represents the eight angels holding the throne of Allah.

    Being Muslim, I am quite aware of the aspects of my religion, including pre-Islamic history in Arabia.

    The article you provide the link to is absurd. Arabic is a Semitic language with very little influence from any Indo-European language until modern times. Apart from the factual errors in the article, the linguistic game the author of the article plays is laughable. By simply associating words that sound similar from different languages provides no proof that one pre-existed the other. I have heard Arabs say that Hawaii belongs to them because it sounds like the Arabic for “my wind,” and they further have proof because Honolulu sounds like “here are pearls” in Arabic. Some also believe that Shakespeare was real Shaykh Zubair – an Arab with fantastic English.

    The Indians have a remarkable history – stretching back to the beginnings or history itself. There is no need to steal from everyone else.

    The example is typical of post-colonized cultures, after being raped by their old masters, that they try to raise themselves above their former occupiers in attempts to regain their former dignity. In this sense the Muslim countries also suffer. The Muslims did more than save Greek science, as Danny suggests. Wikipedia provides a list of Muslims scholars and their contributions. For the rise and fall of civilizations, we can look to Ibn Khaldun – often nowadays called the father of sociology and economics. After their fall, many societies still yearn and demand respect for past glories. In the middle of it we have people like Irshad Manji who simply want to take on all the characteristics of a foreign culture to redefine their own roots in an attempt to acquire respect – quite the opposite of the Vaishnava News article, but still the same disease.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Muslim_scientists

  31. cg said on August 28th, 2008 at 9:56am #

    AJ, perhaps you might tell me what is the significance of the mysterious number 786 imprinted on all Arabic copies of the Koran?

    http://www.vnn.org/editorials/ET0001/ET25-5336.html

    http://www.vnn.org/editorials/ET0002/ET21-5523.html

    .

  32. AJ Nasreddin said on September 7th, 2008 at 2:12am #

    CG,

    Well, there is no mysterious 786 imprinted on Arabic copies of the Qur’an – at least none on any of my copies. 786 does happen to be the sum of the letters of the Bismallah written before all of the chapters except one. Still, this is merely a coincidence. If you look hard enough and are willing to use any sort of logic to convince yourself of something, then you’ll find it.