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A Former Congresswoman Tries to Censor Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week By: Patrick Poole
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Since leaving Congress in shame in 1993 and her subsequent guilty plea on charges related to her role in the House checking scandal (where she had more than 200 overdrafts), Mary Rose Oakar has kept a low public profile. But now Oakar has waded back into the waters of controversy by encouraging higher education officials to suppress student free speech related to the upcoming Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.

FrontPage has obtained a copy of a letter dated September 7th by Oakar in her position as president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) to Columbus State Community College President Valeriana Moeller saying that Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week (IAW) events “should not be tolerated.” The letter is also signed by ADC Executive Director Kareem Shora.

Last week I reported in my article, “Censorship State,” that Columbus State student life director Timeka Rashid had banned student leaders of the Terrorism Awareness Project (TAP) from posting promotional fliers based on her supposed understanding of the “campus climate and culture and recent concerns brought to the President.” In a separate email to one of the student leaders, Rashid appealed to Mary Rose Oakar’s letter as the source of these “recent concerns” and the grounds for her denial of the group's posting fliers advertising their Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week events. Rashid refused to comment for last week’s story.

According to Columbus State TAP student president Josiah Lanning, he was instructed by Rashid not to contact Oakar, nor was he provided a copy of the letter by Columbus State despite repeated requests for it. Until FrontPage forwarded Lanning a copy of Oakar’s letter on Friday afternoon, he had not seen a copy nor was he aware of its contents, despite the fact that college administrators were using it to justify their censorship of the student group.

In Oakar’s letter (the entire text appears below and images of the letter are reproduced here), she rails against the organizers and speakers associated with the Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week events:

“Islamo-Facism [sic] Awareness Week” is being organized and promoted by Mr. David Horowitz and his Horowitz Freedom Center…While the plan for the week includes sit-ins, lectures, and film, ADC is deeply concerned that these planned activities seek not to increase awareness, tolerance, and understanding, but instead promote intolerance, fear, and bigotry.

Oakar provides no evidence that these events will “promote intolerance, fear, and bigotry.” But what is of particular note is that the real issue Oakar seems to be concerned with is students challenging the pro-Palestinian terrorist orthodoxy on college campuses - an orthodoxy that Columbus State apparently is desperate to protect:

This proposed “Islamo Facism [sic] Awareness Week” initiative must be viewed within the context of the organized national campaign to foreclose the debate on the Middle East, especially at university campuses, by promoting fear of Arabs and Muslims. ADC is deeply troubled by the possibility that a tiny handful of student with a narrow political agenda, backed by a well-funded special interest group, would organize this type of hateful and bigoted event on your campus. I urge you to ensure that hate speech and demonstrations of bigotry and racial and religious profiling not be tolerated on your campus.

In an Orwellian moment, Oakar identifies ADC as a “civil rights organization” while simultaneously attempting to stifle the free speech rights of students at a public college:

As a civil rights organization, ADC values the principle of free speech, however, hateful speech cannot be condoned and should not be allowed to permeate American campuses.

Following the publication of my article last week, I was contacted by Columbus State spokesman William Kopp who tried to downplay the role of Oakar’s letter to President Moeller:

I want to emphasize that the letter to which you refer--or any other outside letter--has no impact on the ability of our students to meet, hold public events, promote such events, or post communication on our campus. Freedom of speech is a national treasure and a foundation of higher education. Mr. Lanning will certainly be permitted to hold events on campus and publicize those events on kiosks established for such purposes on our campus.

But in fact, Rashid repeatedly cited Oakar’s letter in emails and conversations with the TAP leaders as justification for her censorship of the student organization’s materials. Additionally, Rashid’s decision last week to prohibit the posting of fliers promoting IAW events flatly contradicts Kopp’s claims of Columbus State’s “treasuring” of free speech.

The public scrutiny that Columbus State has received in the past week over their decision to censor students appears to have prompted college officials to back down from their suppression of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week events. This is particularly appropriate, because in a forthcoming report here at FrontPage, I will be revealing just how close Columbus State itself has come to the international Islamic terror network and why administrators at the school should increase their own terrorism awareness.

Oakar's letter has gone out to every campus that has stated it is going to host an Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. Over the weekend, Robert Spencer of JihadWatch published a report that the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) has posted a handbook providing instruction to university and college administrators on steps to censor students, which may indicate that Oakar's letter is part of a collective effort by radical Islamist organizations to censor students with an anti-terror message and to suppress their free speech rights – a possible violation of federal law. Also unknown is how widespread this censorship campaign extends, perhaps well beyond ADC and MPAC.

The text of Mary Rose Oakar’s letter to Columbus State President Moeller appears below:

September 7, 2007

President Valeriana Moeller

Columbus State Community College

550 East Spring Street

Columbus, Ohio 43216

Dear President Valeriana Moeller:

I am writing on behalf of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). Founded in 1980 by former United States Senator James Abourezk in response to stereotyping, defamation and discrimination directed against Americans of Arab origin, ADC is the largest Arab American civil rights organization in the country. ADC has 38 chapters, members across the nation, and ADC is a member of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR).

It has come to our attention that Columbus State Community College will be the host of a campaign which carries false, hateful, and biased messages about Muslims and Arabs. This nationally organized campaign is called “Islamo-Facism [sic] Awareness Week” and is scheduled to take place on Oct. 22-26.

As a civil rights organization, ADC values the principle of free speech, however, hateful speech cannot be condoned and should not be allowed to permeate American campuses. The post-9/11 United States has seen a dramatic increase in hate crimes targeted against Arab and Muslims or those perceived to be. Events such as “Islamo-Facism [sic] Awareness Week” do not seek to further the discussion in a peaceful manner, but rather they contribute only to the prejudicial anger and hatred which ultimately is targeted against Arab and Muslims in the US.

“Islamo-Facism [sic] Awareness Week” is being organized and promoted by Mr. David Horowitz and his Horowitz Freedom Center. Mr. Horowitz claims, “During the week of October 22-26, 2007, the nation will be rocked by the biggest conservative campus protest ever – Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, a wake-up call for Americans on 200 university and college campuses.” While the plan for the week includes sit-ins, lectures, and film, ADC is deeply concerned that these planned activities seek not to increase awareness, tolerance, and understanding, but instead promote intolerance, fear, and bigotry.

Materials scheduled to be distributed are: “The Islamic Mein Kampf,” Why Israel is the Victim,” “Jimmy Carter’s War Against the Jews,” and “What Every American Needs to Know About Jihad.” Mr. Horowitz advises campus organizers to request funding from the student government and the University for these activities. If funding is not forthcoming, according to Horowitz’s guide, “it will prove the hypocrisy of your University’s claim to be committed to intellectual diversity and academic freedom.”

This proposed “Islamo Facism [sic] Awareness Week” initiative must be viewed within the context of the organized national campaign to foreclose the debate on the Middle East, especially at university campuses, by promoting fear of Arabs and Muslims. ADC is deeply troubled by the possibility that a tiny handful of student with a narrow political agenda, backed by a well-funded special interest group, would organize this type of hateful and bigoted event on your campus. I urge you to ensure that hate speech and demonstrations of bigotry and racial and religious profiling not be tolerated on your campus.

I would welcome the opportunity for ADC to discuss these concerns with you.

Mary Rose Oakar Kareem Shora, LL.M., J.D.

President, ADC National Executive Director


Patrick Poole is a regular contributor to Frontpagemag.com and an anti-terrorism consultant to law enforcement and the military.


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