Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland was merely repaying his political debt to his friends when he spoke over the weekend at the annual banquet for the Ohio chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization that helped him get elected back in November by raising significant amounts of campaign cash and mobilizing election workers on his behalf.
But he stepped way out of line in his keynote speech, where according to a press release on the CAIR website, he invoked the thanks of all Ohioans for the work of CAIR:
On behalf of all Ohioans, [my wife and I] appreciate your vision to promote justice and mutual understanding. We gather under CAIR-Ohio's theme this year, ‘American Muslims: Connecting and Sharing,’ to do just that, to connect and share and get to know each other better.
Not all Ohioans share Strickland’s enthusiasm for CAIR-OH’s efforts to “promote justice and mutual understanding”. Many Muslim and non-Muslim Ohioans alike, myself included, deplore CAIR-OH’s extremism as well as their regular incitement of religious and ethnic hatred in our communities.
One example of CAIR-OH’s efforts to “promote justice and mutual understanding” occurred last summer when a CAIR-OH spokesman, Karen Dabdoub, began publicly indicting the entire community of non-Muslims in Xenia, Ohio of rampant Islamophobia by falsely implicating them in a series of fire-bomb attacks against a restaurant owned by Jordanian-born Muslims.
But as I noted in an article just a few weeks after the incident, (“Kafir-phobia: Americans as Violent Anti-Muslim Bigots”), at the time that Dabdoub was inflaming religious and racial tensions, the local media was already reporting that police knew that the owners themselves were behind the “bombings”, having paid a former employee to vandalize the store. The owner and his son were injured when they unintentionally caused an explosion from lighting up a cigarette while standing in a pool of gasoline they intended to use to set their store ablaze later that night. Both died weeks later from their injuries. No apology to the community or correction was ever issued by CAIR-OH for its spokesman’s false indictment.
FrontPage readers will remember from an article I had publisher here several months ago, “CAIR’s Blood Money”, that the speaker at last year’s CAIR-OH annual banquet was none other than Siraj Wahhaj, the unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and defense character witness for blind hate sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was convicted in that terror attack for “seditious conspiracy” – a charge Wahhaj himself narrowly escaped (for more on Wahhaj, see my article earlier this week, “Hometown Jihad: The School Gym that Terror Built”)
Predictably, any Muslim that publicly expresses concern for CAIR’s radical agenda is denounced as someone who is not really an observant Muslim, because they assume that all true Muslims want to turn America into an Islamic state. I witnessed this first-hand back in March during a televised debate between CAIR spokesman Ahmed Bedier and Tawfik Hamid at the Secular Islam Summit in St. Petersburg, Florida (an event I attended). During the exchange, Bedier said that Hamid practiced “illegitimate Islam”.
But if a non-Muslim speaks against the group, they are quickly slapped with the dreaded “Islamophobe” label, CAIR’s preferred stereotype of non-Muslims (they presume we are all secretly seething with latent rage against Muslims). If they are really upset at you, they will pull out their epithets of last-resort, either “neocon” or “Zionist”, or potentially both. This public relations farce is promptly followed by the blindly hypocritical act of decrying labels and stereotypes of Muslims, and heated invocations of “McCarthyism”.
Gov. Strickland might do well to follow his Democratic Party colleagues who have already abandoned CAIR for its extremism. As early as 2003, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) noted in a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security hearing, “Two Years After 9/11: Connecting the Dots”, that CAIR was an organization “which we know has ties to terrorism”. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) echoed his Democratic colleague and admitted that CAIR is “unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its associations with groups that are suspect”. (See Evan McCormick’s FrontPage article, “A Bad Day for CAIR”.)
And just recently, of course, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) withdrew a “certificate of accomplishment” her office had awarded in her name to a CAIR official. As Newsweek reported, she acknowledged that her withdrawal of the award
…was influenced by previous critical statements about CAIR made by her Democratic colleagues Sens. Richard Durbin of Illinois and Charles Schumer of New York. "To praise an organization because they haven't been indicted is like somebody saying, 'I'm not a crook,'” Boxer says. “I'm going to take a lot of hits for this. But I'm just doing what I think is right."
Then, of course, CAIR itself was named just two weeks ago as an unindicted co-conspirator by federal prosecutors in a HAMAS terrorism financial trial in Texas (see “CAIR Fingered by Feds”).
CAIR-OH tacitly acknowledged the potential for the public to express its disagreement with its radical agenda by not publicly promoting and actively concealing details of their annual banquet to prevent demonstrators. That might be one reason why attendance at this year’s banquet was only 350, down from 400 just last year. Then again, as I noted in an article just a few weeks ago, (“CAIR by the Numbers”), CAIR has lost most of its members in recent years, a fact confirmed last week by the Washington Times, when it reported that CAIR had lost 90 percent of its members since 9/11. Even Muslims are voting with their feet to express their displeasure and disassociation from CAIR’s extremism.
When he was speaking at the CAIR-OH banquet the other night, Gov. Strickland was doing nothing more than rewarding his political allies for their loyalty. That’s politics. But invoking the authority of the people of the Great State of Ohio in support of an organization committed to inciting hatred and inflaming religious and racial tensions, was nothing short of shameful, no less than if he had praised the neo-Nazi organizations in Southern Ohio.
When you sing the praises of CAIR, Gov. Strickland, it is not in our name.