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Hatred's Ricochet By: Ben Johnson
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on.” – Mark Twain.

Word of the mock “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week” posters – more than 100 of which left-wing students posted on the campus of George Washington University last week – has reached Osama bin Laden’s backyard.

A recent news blurb about the hate fliers, entitled merely “Anti-Muslim posters go up at George Washington University,” appeared in the most recent edition of The Daily Times…of Pakistan.

As with all other media coverage, the bold print ignored that a group of leftist students – including a Muslim – planted the fliers, misappropriating the student organization’s name, Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week’s name and website, and the logo of George Washington University; the Pakistani story’s sub-headline read: “Students plan awareness week to counter anti-Islam attitude.” While recounting the deep pain these fliers alleged caused GWU’s Muslims, the story stated, “Some students thought the posters might be a joke at the expense of the conservatives.” (Emphasis added. The story also called the Muslim Students Association “conservative.”)

The words of the story ignore the context: this region of the world is a seething cauldron of anti-American hatred believed to be sheltering the men who perpetrated 9/11. Some have said in a free election Pakistanis would elect Osama bin Laden president by a comfortable margin. Its tribal citizenry already believes the American heart is an abyss of decadence and anti-Muslim hatred. The story’s ambiguities reinforce those prejudices in a country even left-wing Democrats agree is vital to American soldiers currently fighting the War on Terrorism.

These are the serious consequences of sophomoric behavior. This left-wing “satire” has now ricocheted around the world, from a boiling P.C. campus to the nerve center of worldwide jihad. Two years ago, another hoax that attributed anti-Muslim behavior to American patriots touched off a string of riots throughout the Muslim world, claiming 16 lives. Islamo-fascists do not care if the creators of the fliers were conservative American or left-wing (anti-)Americans; they care only that such posters exist – and in an honor-based culture, the blowback may yet be unbearable.

These infractions should move GWU administrators to throw the book at the gang of seven students who posted these hate-fliers. If George Washington University administrators could not be moved by the fliers’ dishonesty, the needless suffering and humiliation heaped upon members of GWU’s Young America's Foundation, or the misuse of its own logo, perhaps they will take note of the international scope this incident has taken on – and the accompanying embarrassment these left-wingers have caused GWU.

Case Closed

Instead, the university announced Friday it has closed its investigation – and has said nothing of pending charges against the students. “Following University policy, any violations of the Code of Student Conduct that occurred in connection with this activity will be handled through the Student Judicial Services process, without regard to the political views or affiliations of those found to have been involved,” wrote Director of Media Relations Tracy Schario in an e-mail to the official student newspaper, The Daily Colonial. The paper also notes none of the leftist students is speaking to the media about the process.

Since “Students for Conservativo-Fascism Awareness” is not an official university student organization, it had no business hanging fliers anywhere in the first place, nor using the GWU logo, nor sitting back while another group was publicly flailed for its handiwork. Nor have these seven students shown a hint of remorse. The group wrote in a letter confessing to the action, “It was inspiring to see that students directed their attention to the real threat.” That is, their posters had the intended consequence of branding all dissent from radical orthodoxy as “hate.” No one currently knows whether there are any charges to investigate, or if there will ever be consequences for this hate screed that has now been reported in Islamabad.

The attitude of GWU administrators does not hold out cause for hope. When the posters appeared to be the work of campus conservatives, university president Steven Knapp immediately reacted, “There is no place for expressions of hatred on our campus.” The administration sent an e-mail to YAF leaders, demanding they draft “a statement which states that you will not allow hate speech to be a part of any of YAF’s events, literature, written or verbal communication planned for Islamofacism Week.”

But Knapp seemed much more tolerant after the poster’s origin came to light. Speaking at the campus Iftar, an annual event where to break the Ramadan fast, Knapp said sympathetically, “I understand that the students who created and posted the flier thought they were defending Islamic people against that kind of stereotype, but their action had the opposite effect, producing pain among our Muslim students, faculty and staff, as well as shocking and embarrassing the non-Muslim members of our community.”

Campus media continue to blame the victim. The unofficial GW Hatchet, living up to its name, wrote in an unsigned editorial this week:

While it is natural that the national leaders of the Young America’s Foundation would have something to say about the issue, the GW chapter of YAF should be careful in associating itself with some of the hateful rhetoric that is being directed towards the administration and GW as a whole.

As usual, there has been a purported incident of hate speech, so conservatives must apologize for the actions of others. The Hatchet does not specify the alleged “hateful rhetoric” emanating from the Right, nor has there been any. If anything, YAF national headquarters has been remarkably restrained for an organization accused of authoring a flier that says all Arabs have a hollow leg that allows them to smuggle heroin and children. Nonetheless, the editorial closes by questioning the legitimacy of GWU conservatives’ “tolerance”:

As the initial shock of the poster incident wears off and the national spotlight fades, it is vital that the issues at the heart of the controversy of the past week not be forgotten. During a time of high media attention and even higher tensions, it is easy for anyone and everyone to proclaim themselves tolerant. The true test is yet to come - one that hopefully the GW student community will be able to pass.

Like Dan Rather, the campus Left believes even if the facts are wrong, the story was right.

The official student newspaper was somewhat more measured. In an unsigned editorial, The Daily Colonial noted the deception the leftist students perpetrated in their hate campaign: “Some may argue that the posters were very clearly sarcastic. Yet this doesn't change the fact that they were misleading when it came to ownership.” The editorial concludes, “The authors definitely succeeded in getting attention, but for their controversial poster, not their substantive objections to YAF's upcoming events.”

This innocence misunderstands the Left. This poster was the Left’s “substantive” objection to Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. It is part of a national campaign to prevent the student organizers of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week from exercising their constitutional rights – and warn fellow students about terrorism. The Left has proven over the course of at least two decades whenever any group has the audacity to disagree with its party line – whether on terrorism, reverse discrimination, or welfare spending – its spokespersons will demonize their opponents as hate-filled pariahs. These students’ “substantive objections” are that they hate us and think we should shut up, and this was the most convenient method of achieving that goal. Such bullying, dishonest, and anti-intellectual tactics should not be rewarded with a private slap on the wrist and a swift thrust under the rug.

Readers can express their opinions to George Washington University President Steven Knapp via e-mail: sknapp@gwu.edu.

Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and co-author, with David Horowitz, of the book Party of Defeat. He is also the author of the books Teresa Heinz Kerry's Radical Gifts (2009) and 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry's Charitable Giving (2004).

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