The following series of articles appeared on Daniel Pipes' blog. -- Editors.
The United States at War with Hamas and Hezbollah. Almost without public notice, the two sides have declared war on each other. President George W. Bush stated in June 2003 that "the free world, those who love freedom and peace, must deal harshly with Hamas" and that "Hamas must be dismantled." Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage announced in September 2002 that "Hezbollah may be the A-team of terrorists and maybe Al-Qaeda is actually the B-team. … They have a blood debt to us, which you spoke to; and we're not going to forget it and it's all in good time. … We're going to take them down one at a time."
These ambitious sentiments have been accompanied by a shift in resources. The Washington Post reported in May that the FBI, "Confident that its efforts to track the Al-Qaeda terrorist network in this country are beginning to pay off, … is devoting more resources to the two Middle Eastern groups, which command more widespread support in Arab and Muslim communities" in the United States. The Post article tells about a November 2002 ruling from a secretive three-judge appeals panel that authorized federal agents pursuing criminal prosecutions of terrorist suspects to exploit the previously inaccessible vast backlog of classified wiretaps and intelligence reports from foreign security agencies. This has led to "stepped-up investigations in at least two dozen U.S. cities." The first public result came in February 2003 with the indictment of Sami Al-Arian and seven others. Current investigations are focused on the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and several individuals, including Abdelhaleem Ashqar, Mohamad Hammoud, and Ali Nasrallah.
Today, Hezbollah gave its fullest retort to date, in an interview by its leader Hassan Nasrallah to the Times of London. Nasrallah overtly threatened American interests around the world if the U.S. government does attempt to eradicate Hezbollah. "In such a case Hezbollah has a right to defend its existence, its people and its country through any means and at any time and in any place." To back this up, he noted that "There are many people throughout the world who love Hezbollah, who like Hezbollah and who support Hezbollah," he said. "Some may not sit idly by when seeing a brutal aggression against Lebanon."
Comment: It appears that Hamas and Hezbollah are no longer just Israel's problem but increasingly America's as well. (July 28, 2003) Permalink
The Oslo War. Bret Stephens, editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post, opened his paper's pages on Sept. 20, 2002 to a discussion of how to name the Palestinian-Israeli war underway since September 2000. His panel offered a host of suggestions:
The War for a Palestinian Land (Naomi Chazan, Daoud Kuttab)
The War of the Borders (A.B. Yehoshua)
The Sixth War (Ehud Ya'ari)
The Camp David War (Michael Oren)
The Idealists' War (Richard Perle)
Operation Justice Recovered (Dore Gold)
The War Against Peace (Natan Sharansky)
Meoraot Tashsa (Amnon Lord)
These names have their virtues but none of them point to the key factor in bringing the violence on – the disaster of the Oslo round of diplomacy, 1993-2001. Two panelists do refer to that event. Norman Podhoretz offers "The War Oslo Wrought," but that is a bit heavy on the tongue. Yuval Steinitz offers the perfect moniker: "The Oslo War." It's short, to the point, translatable into every language, and it points like an arrow to the cause of the conflict.
While Oslo War is not in wide circulation, it is recorded 2,000 times at google.com. The first use in print appears to by Ari Shavit in (of all places) Ha'aretz on Feb. 22, 2001. Two commentators at www.DanielPipes.org were among the early users: Elisa Silverman on May 6, 2002, and Mike Zeldis on July 28, 2002. (July 27, 2003) Permalink
For Mideast Envoy, Rookie Status May Be an Advantage. The Washington Post reports that the "lack of experience in the Middle East" of the new U.S. presidential Middle East envoy, John S. Wolf, "is actually an advantage because it is difficult for either side to believe he approaches the conflict with a preconceived bias." The article quotes a senior administration official saying that "It's a good thing that he has exceptional negotiating skills and very little direct experience in the area."
As though in confirmation of this sentiment, a senior Israeli official recalled that shortly after his appointment, Wolf "was very humble; he said he knew nothing about the region and the conflict." By the time Wolf had returned from his first trip, however, "he was very well-versed, understanding the nuances and knowing all the personalities."
For those familiar with U.S. policy in the Middle East, this attitude brings to mind the International Commission of Inquiry (commonly known as the King-Crane Commission) dispatched to Palestine and Syria in 1919 by President Woodrow Wilson to ascertain the wishes of the residents of those areas concerning their political future. Henry C. King's qualification for this job was to be president of Oberlin College; Charles R. Crane's was the fortune that his family's plumbing fixture company afforded him. It was not secret that the pair were monumentally ill informed about the region they were to investigate, yet that was seen as an advantage. An presidential aide explained that Wilson "felt these two men were particularly qualified to go to Syria because they knew nothing about it" (Paris Peace Conference, 1919, Vol. 11, p. 133).
Who would have imagined that 84 years later, we are again back to this "innocents abroad" outlook?
Postscript: The King-Crane Commission's report was, in the assessment of Elie Kedourie, "as ill-informed as its influence on policy was negligible" (Elie Kedourie, England and the Middle East: The Destruction of the Ottoman Empire, 1914-1921. London: Bowes & Bowes, 1956, p. 147). (July 22, 2003) Permalink
US: Terrorism Not an Excuse to Crack Down on Islam in Central Asia. Some Muslims claim that the United States is really waging a war on Islam; it would seem that they are wrong, judging by what the official U.S. delegation told told an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe conference on freedom of religion.
In the words of a State Department spokeswoman, the U.S. government has concerns involve "the ability of individuals to freely profess and practice religion or belief, without fear of government harassment or imprisonment. We've observed how the overly aggressive response of some governments to security concerns threatens religious freedom for individuals and groups wishing to peacefully practice their faith."
The Voice of America explained the particulars: "people who pray at mosques five times a day could face imprisonment and even torture by the Uzbek authorities. The United States says other Central Asian governments are copying this kind of religious repression. … The U.S. delegates say they made some progress on the issue in meetings with their Uzbek counterparts during the two-day conference."
So there you have it: Washington protecting Muslim believers from the actions of a Muslim-majority government. (July 18, 2003) Permalink
Let's Dialogue. Akbar S. Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun chair of Islamic studies & a professor of international relations at the American University in Washington, D.C., wrote an article about me earlier this month ("Scholarship about Islam in America") that concludes thus:
One of the challenges facing America after Sept. 11 is how to deal with Islam. There is a need to understand the Muslim community, its history and its traditions. Who is better placed to act as a bridge than the scholar of Islam? What better challenge for Daniel Pipes than to assist in creating genuine dialogue with the Muslim community?
I endorse this appeal for discussion and debate.
Indeed, I participated in a most interesting evening along these lines back on Feb. 3, 1999, when the United Association for Studies and Research hosted me for a long evening's seminar titled "Islamism: a Critique," that included some of the most prominent Islamists in the United States. This followed on mutual interviews by UASR's head, Ahmad Yusuf and myself: he appeared in the Middle East Quarterly ("Hamas Is a Charitable Organization") and I appeared in the Middle East Affairs Journal ("Zionism, Islamism, and Jewish Politics in America") Not only do these make for quite interesting reading (Yusuf asked me many questions that I don't often get asked), but I found it a constructive effort.
It's worth noting that this sort of debate has a long history in classical Islamic culture, though in olden days the subject was religious disputation, not political outlook. From the time of St. John of Damascus in the eighth century on, Middle Eastern capitals hosted vigorous debates.
Prof. Ahmed has in effect proposed that these be re-starated and I concur: let's start talking. (July 17, 2003) Permalink
Dual Loyalty? Two of the most radical voices in Middle East studies, John Esposito and Joel Beinin, have just published articles attacking Martin Kramer and myself. They are noteworthy for their commonalities.
John Esposito of Georgetown University tells an interviewer for Egypt's Al-Ahram newspaper that "if you look at the track record of the likes of Kramer and Pipes, do they ever criticise the Sharon government? I would say that they are not arguing for what is in the best interests of America. They are, rather, arguing for what is in the best interests of Israel." Joel Beinin of Stanford University wrote an article for Le Monde Diplomatique's website under the rubric "Tel Aviv's Influence on American Institutions" that accuses the two of us (plus Steven Emerson) of seeking "to impose an anti-Arab and anti-Muslim orthodoxy on Americans."
These accusations prompt several thoughts.
1. This sort of slander is typical of the left; bereft of arguments, it engages in ad hominem attacks. In contrast, see how Campus Watch wrote about Esposito and how Kramer wrote about Beinin - not an insult or aspersion to be found.
2. One has to criticize the Sharon government to prove one's patriotic bona fides? The logic here is odd. Extending it, need one also criticize the Islamic Republic of Iran or the Palestinian Authority to establish oneself as a loyal American?
3. The "dual loyalty" charge fits into the prevailing ethos of antisemitism on the campuses, one so deep that even a Jew like Beinin buys into it.
4. These attacks contain the callow apologetics (Esposito whines that "when they quote my writings, they quote me out of context") and factual errors (Campus Watch, Beinin writes, "has now been removed from the web") that connoisseurs of Middle East studies have come to expect from its practioners. (For more on Esposito's problems with the facts, see the late-breaking story of his misquoting Bernard Lewis, as investigated by the History News Network.)
5. That these intra-mural comments appeared only in non-American publications suggests that there is not much of a U.S. market for the folderol Esposito and Beinin are peddling.
6. The insidious phrase "Tel Aviv's influence" comes straight out of Arab propaganda. Note: it's not "Israel's Influence" (that would recognize Israel), nor "Jerusalem's influence" (that would recognize Jerusalem as the capital). Rather, it's "Tel Aviv's influence." Well, at least it's not the "Zionist entity's influence." (July 17, 2003) Permalink
U.S. government spokesman criticizes CAIR. EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it! When Department of Justice spokesman Jorge Martinez dismissed the Council on American-Islamic Relations' report, Guilt by Association, as "unfair criticism based on a lot of misinformation and propaganda," he did something unprecedented: on behalf of the U.S. government, he criticized CAIR. On prior occasions, no matter how tendentious and intemperate were CAIR's attacks on the federal government ("unjust" and "disturbing," for example, was how it responded to President Bush's closing down conduit for funding Hamas), the feds sat mutely by. No longer, it would appear. (July 16, 2003) Permalink
Muslim woman falsified insurance claim for husband. The Australian Associated Press reports from Melbourne the mounting of an audacious defense for criminal activity - Islamic law made me do it. The lawyer for Fadime Cubuk, 26, admitted she was wrong to falsify an insurance claim after a fire at the family's kebab shop two years ago. But, as a devout Muslim woman, she felt the Koran requires her to obey her husband, who ordered her to do this. The possibility of ignoring her husband's demands, he said was "very, very difficult given the position she was in with her culture and upbringing." According to her faith, the lawyer continued, criticising or refusing a husband was "absolutely forbidden" and could result in beatings, admonishment and the withdrawal of sexual favours. It will be interesting to learn the verdict on this one. (July 15, 2003) Permalink
Bouygues Telecom's Foreign Policy. One of France's main telephone companies, Bouygues Telecom, has posted rates for calling a country it calls "Palestine," seemingly unaware that there is no such place. The rate page helpfully provides a map of this supposed country, showing quite precise boundaries of its West Bank and Gaza components and even including the Jewish town of Mizpe Shalem. This corporation, it would seem, is paving the way for the French government. (July 13, 2003) Permalink
CAIR's Saudi masters. A couple of items from the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington concerning its support for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) are worth noting and pondering. The first dates from August 15, 1999, and is listed under "IDB Approves New Projects Worldwide":
President of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Dr. Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ali announced today that the bank has approved a number of new grants for Muslim minorities in non-Muslim countries worldwide. These include U.S. $395,000 to build a school in Tanzania, $250,000 as a contribution to the purchase of land in Washington DC to be the headquarters for an education and research center under the aegis of the Council for American Islamic Relations, and $30 million for Islamic associations in India.
For those not familiar with the Islamic Development Bank, it appears to be an international institution but is in fact an arm of Saudi foreign policy.
The second item, "MWL Delegation In Washington DC," is dated July 8, 2002, and concerns a visit to the American capital by Abdullah bin Abdulmohsin Al-Turki, Secretary-General of the Muslim World League (MWL) - an organization which, despite its name, is openly a tool of the kingdom. The report indicates what Al-Turki did on July 5, 2002:
During a visit on Friday evening to the headquarters of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) he advocated coordination among Muslim organizations in the United States. Expressing MWL's readiness to offer assistance in the promotion and coordination of Islamic works, he announced plans to set up a commission for this purpose.
One can only guess what this discreet and implication-laden note is hiding, but between funds officially donated and occasional visits from Saudi officials, it's probably correctly to figure that CAIR is yet another instrument of the Wahhabis' foreign aspirations. (July 5, 2003) Permalink
Clerics issue fatwah on anyone proposing secular laws. Like any extremist movement, militant Islam contains elements that are going over the edge in a frenzy of delusion and hubris. The Associated Press reports from Sudan about a fatwa (edict) issued by fourteen prominent Islamic scholars and published in the Akhbar al-Yawm newspaper calling for the execution of anyone in Sudan who calls for non-Islamic laws. "Whoever approves or calls for application of a ruling other than the Islamic Shari'a - like those who call for socialism or communism or other subversive beliefs that contradict Islamic thought - is, frankly, an apostate." For example, "Those who question the qiwama [guardianship] of men over women is in fact objecting to God's ruling and is questioning the holy book, and is [therefore] considered unanimously by the Islamic scholars to be an apostate." Further, they also consider an apostate anyone who supports "those schools of thought or those parties." Apostates are to be given a chance to recant; if they refuse, they should be executed. (July 5, 2003) Permalink
Hip French rappers criticized for lyrics backing suicide bombings. It hardly comes as a shock to learn that a French rap song, "Jeteur de Pierres" (stone thrower) by a group called Sniper (an excerpt can be listened to here) contains lyrics endorsing suicide bombings against Israel ("Bare hands face an army ready to kill; to blow yourself up is just resistance") or expressing antisemitism ("I come out of an urban place. I don't live like no Yehud"). Nor is it surprising that the album reached #3 on the hit parade, nor that it prompted a letter from the Jewish leadership to President Chirac.
But it does come as a surprise to learn that the album in question, Gravé dans la roche (carved in the rock) is a product of the Desh Musique/East West label, a subsidiary of an American-based corporation, AOL Time Warner. JTA quotes a French AOL Time Warner spokesperson saying that the producer of Gravé dans la roche, one Johnny Trognee, "would maintain his position of not answering journalists' questions regarding the content of the album." (July 4, 2003) Permalink
Look at Roots of Terror: Naif. In a stunning statement to Saudi Arabia's unelected "parliament," the Shoura Consultative Council, Interior Minister Prince Naif stated the following: "We have witnessed the criminal acts of some of our youth, who are citizens of this country; they have killed people, and have destroyed property, and have terrified families," referring to the explosions in Riyadh on May 12. "We need to ask: Did the source of this ideology come from this land or was it imported from outside? Was it the result of fanatical ideas from people who have been brainwashed? Or is it a combination of factors, inside and out? But above all, how powerful is this ideology and how widespread is it?"
Arab News went on to explain: "The problem, the prince told the Shoura Council, was not in the criminal acts in themselves, or in the criminal instincts of the terrorists, but in their convictions. 'If a person does something wrong and is convinced it is right, then we have to look at the root causes,' the minister said. He said the roots, which created these beliefs and formed these ideologies, were the real concern. … In response to a question, the prince reiterated there was no doubt that the young people arrested - many of them under 25 - were brainwashed, and added the role played by the school, the mosque and the home was vitally important in correcting any false conceptions."
If the interior minister of the Saudi state acknowledges that the key problem is not the acts of violence but the ideas that inspire them, how can anyone else deny the role of ideas in the war on terror? (July 2, 2003) Permalink
Highlights from the Pipes Archive
The Flight of Thomas Nagy. In "Profs Who Hate America," I pointed to the topsy-turvy world in which American professors "consider the United States (not Iraq) the problem" and gave six examples of this way of thinking. One of them was a quote from Thomas Nagy, associate professor of business at George Washington University, who
proudly informed his university newspaper about providing aid to the Saddam regime against the United States during a recent (illegal) trip to Iraq. Specifically, he offered "estimates of the number of civilians needed to act as a human shield to protect infrastructure and buildings for Iraqi citizens."
In a belated response, Nagy wrote a long piece, "Why I Am Leaving This Country: Daniel Pipes and the Failure of Democracy in America," that appeared at Muslim WakeUp! on July 25, 2003, and has subsequently been widely reprinted on Islamist and far-left websites. In it, he announced to the wide world that my little quote caused him such pain that he has given up on the United States, a country where he became a citizen in 1954:
So I am moving to Canada in a few days where I will apply for citizenship and try to rebuild my 20-year university career in a functioning democracy.
I think Canada's secret is simple: a small, peace keeping-oriented military; a small weapons industry; no empire to rule and no countries to conquer. (Sending trigger pullers to Afghanistan was an aberration. Canadian troops die if they must but as peace keepers, not as killers of essentially defenseless people.)
I hope to die in Canada and atone for my stupidity and culpability in paying taxes to the most well-oiled killing machine in history, the United States of America, by teaching peace studies and promoting pacifism, which I think is the only force powerful enough to overcome America's super weapons.
Well, I found it a little bit of a stretch that my quote should have prompted such a massive shift in the good professor's life, so I did some research on him and then wrote him the following letter on July 26:
Dear Mr. Nagy:
I read your affecting story published on July 25, where you recount how my quoting you in a column last fall has prompted you to flee the United States for Canada, where you in fact "hope to die."
I also note that at "GW -- A Real University? What do you think?' dated July 4, 2003, you wrote the following (and I preserve here exactly your punctuation):
You all might be interested to learn? that after 20 years of teaching at GW and 4 in the "Faculty" Senate, I have been kicked off the Sch of Biz Listserv as well as the Mgt Sci Dept. Listserv.? ... What's next, will I get kicked this listserv too? I'm leaving for Canada in 3 weeks to be a visiting prof. of peace studies at MacMaster U. I probably will not return to GW unless it becomes a real university or to the U.S. till it returns the Bill of Rights
This prompts two questions.
The July 4 explanation for leaving the US (a job offer) seems to contradict the one you gave on July 25 (my column); could you reconcile them for me?
Your saying that you "probably will not return to GW" seems to contradict your wish "to die" in Canada; could you again reconcile these statements?
Yours, Daniel Pipes
It comes perhaps as no shock that I still await a reply from Professor Nagy. (July 31, 2003) Permalink
"Piece of trash." That's how Secretary of State Colin Powell called former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, or more fully "a piece of trash waiting to be collected." It may be coincidence, or it may not, that Adam Garfinkle, who just joined the secretary's staff as a speechwriter, coined the term "taking out the trash" to mean figuring out "where the dictator goes once he decides to give up power" in a book he co-wrote with me and others, The Devil and Uncle Sam: A User's Handbook to the Friendly Tyrants Dilemma (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, 1992), p. 83. (July 30, 2003) Permalink
The Saudi Scandal Continues. In "The Scandal of U.S.-Saudi Relations," I wrote about a "culture of corruption in the Executive Branch renders it quite incapable of dealing with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the farsighted and disinterested manner that U.S. foreign policy requires."
This point comes to mind with the news that the 28-page chapter on the role of Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments in the Congressional report released yesterday criticizing the work of the FBI and CIA leading up to 9/11 was virtually edited out at the insistence of the Executive Branch. "I just don't understand the administration here," responded Senator Charles E. Schumer (Democrat of New York). "There seems to be a systematic strategy of coddling and cover-up when it comes to the Saudis. (July 25, 2003) Permalink
Intelligence mistakes pre-9/11. Here's my tough assessment of the intelligence failure that appeared on September 12, 2001, "Mistakes Made the Catastrophe Possible":
The tactical blame falls on the U.S. government, which has grievously failed in its topmost duty to protect American citizens from harm. Specialists on terrorism have been aware for years of this dereliction of duty; now the whole world knows it. Despite a steady beat of major, organized terrorist incidents over 18 years (since the car bombing of the U.S. embassy in Beirut in 1983), Washington has not taken the issue seriously. … American officials have consistently held the view that terrorism is a form of criminal activity. Consequently, they have made their goal the arrest and trying of perpetrators who carry out violent acts. That's all fine and good as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. This legalistic mindset allows the funders, planners, organizers, and commanders of terrorism to continue their work untouched, ready to carry out more attacks. The better approach is to see terrorism as a form of warfare and to target not just those foot soldiers who actually carry out the violence but the organizations and governments who stand behind them. … Many indications point to the development of a large Islamist terror network within the United States, one visible to anyone who cared to see it. … The information was out there but law enforcement and politicians did not want to see it.
The Congressional report released today (the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001) agrees with me, though with softer phrasing:
for a variety of reasons, the Intelligence Community failed to capitalize on both the individual and collective significance of available information that appears relevant to the events of September 11. As a result, the Community missed opportunities to disrupt the September 11th plot by denying entry to or detaining would-be hijackers; to at least try to unravel the plot through surveillance and other investigative work within the United States; and, finally, to generate a heightened state of alert and thus harden the homeland against attack. No one will ever know what might have happened had more connections been drawn between these disparate pieces of information. We will never definitively know to what extent the Community would have been able and willing to exploit fully all the opportunities that may have emerged. The important point is that the Intelligence Community, for a variety of reasons, did not bring together and fully appreciate a range of information that could have greatly enhanced its chances of uncovering and preventing Usama Bin Ladin's plan to attack these United States on September 11, 2001. (July 24, 2003) Permalink
The killing of Saddam's sons. On July 1, 2003, I noted in "U.S. to Israel: Do As We Say ..." a repeated pattern of the U.S. government condemning Israel engaging in the very same actions it does itself. I had lots of good examples of this hypocrisy, but today's news of U.S. forces taking out 'Udayy and Qusayy provides an even more compelling case. Can one not envision the sour American faces were Israel to kill its #2- and #3-ranking political leadership and in like fashion celebrate this achievement? (July 22, 2003) Permalink
The Dangers of Occupying Iraq. In April 1991, when a debate was raging about the desirability of a U.S. intervention against the Saddam Hussein regime, I wrote this about the prospect of U.S. forces occupying Iraq, "with Schwartzkopf Pasha ruling from Baghdad":
It sounds romantic, but watch out. Like the Israelis in southern Lebanon nine years ago, American troops would find themselves quickly hated, with Shi'is taking up suicide bombing, Kurds resuming their rebellion, and the Syrian and Iranian governments plotting new ways to sabotage American rule. Staying in place would become too painful, leaving too humiliating.
Unfortunately, that last sentence – "Staying in place would become too painful, leaving too humiliating" – only too well describes the situation American forces are finding themselves in today in Iraq. (July 21, 2003) Permalink
The FBI's Alleged Glass Ceiling. I wrote in March 2003 ("The FBI Fumbles") about the FBI's handling of Gamal Abdel-Hafiz, a Muslim immigrant from Egypt and special agent who showed a reluctance to go after Islamists but was promoted anyway.
Now we learn of troubles with another Egyptian-born FBI agent, Bassem Youssef. Youssef is suing the bureau, the Department of Justice, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and FBI Director Robert Mueller on grounds of racial discrimination. His complaint asserts that there is a "glass ceiling" in place preventing the promotion of U.S. citizens born in Arab countries.
Further, it goes on: "No other non-Arab FBI employee with similar background and experience in counterterrorism was willfully blocked from working 9-11 related matters. In fact, numerous non-Arab FBI employees with far less experience and expertise in counterterrorism were assigned to 9-11 related work." Youssef's attorney claimed his client was sidelined for no good reason. "What you want is the most qualified person and the most qualified person was not permitted to work on the most important criminal prosecution in American history."
In addition to compensatory damages, CNN reports, "Youssef wants the FBI to set affirmative action goals for the recruitment and promotion of people of Middle Eastern descent, and an annual report on how the bureau is meeting those goals." He also wants the FBI to reinstate him immediately at his former counterterrorism position or at a higher one.
Comment: I know no details about this case other than Youssef's grievances, but the information he provides makes one wonder what he might have done to be taken off the beat (and at one point dispatched to tag and process evidence at an off-site facility). At minimum, it appears that the FBI is acting more far cautiously with Youssef than with Abdel-Hafiz. (July 20, 2003) Permalink
Muslim support for bin Laden. "Every Muslim household not just in this country but around the world condemned the events of 9/11." So spoke Faiz Rehman of the American Muslim Council on Sept. 27, 2002, at the World Media Association Conference in Arlington, Virginia. Rehman and I were co-panelists at an event discussing the "Media's Role in Peace and Conflict: Covering the Consequences of 9/11" and I nearly fell off my seat in disbelief at his audacity. I responded by reading out some evidence I had collected in "A Middle East Party," and "Muslims ♥ Bin Laden," both of which documented bin Laden's general popularity among Muslim populations. Rehman's silence provided an eloquent reply.
Even I sensed a drop-off in support for bin Laden following the collapse of the Taliban in November 2001, which I documented in "Victory Shifts the Muslim World".
So, both Rehmen and I need to take into account an important Agence France-Presse report today about bin Laden's enduring popularity in Kano, Nigeria: "Osama bin Laden's now familiar smile beams out from posters and T-shirts dotted around the bus stops and markets of this sprawling, mainly-Muslim city, as of he were a football star or a singer. Many Muslims in Kano held parties to celebrate the September 11 attacks and now, almost two years later, the man who ordered the kamikaze hijackers into action is still a hero to many of the people here. … on the eve of Bush's historic visit [to Nigeria,] Bin Laden T-shirts and posters are far outselling Stars and Stripes flags on the streets of Kano." (July 11, 2003) Permalink
Fluoridation. In my 1997 book, Conspiracy, I devoted an entire chapter to "Right-Wing Nuts, Leftist Sophisticates," the point being that although the Left engages in conspiracism as much as the Right, it does so with more convincing arguments and more sophisticated spokesmen present them. In a section titled "The Right's substance is risible," I gave as one example that "In the 1950s, the National Federation of Christian Laymen portrayed fluorine as 'the devil's poison' and considered its addition to drinking water (to prevent tooth decay) 'one of the most dastardly plots ever attempted against the human race.'Now along comes Jay Nordlinger in National Review, telling us that the Left has picked up the anti-fluoridation cause. It makes the case in articles like "Flouride: Commie Plot or Capitalist Ploy," but with so much more panache than the Right ever could, drawing on the Friends of the Earth, Ralph Nader, the Greens, and the odd medical doctor or public health specialist. (July 1, 2003) Permalink