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George Washington University's Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week: One Year Later By: FrontPage Magazine
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, October 15, 2008

George Santayana’s best known quip has long been a cliché: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The organizers of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week at George Washington University could want nothing less.


IFAW kicks off next week at the D.C.-area campus. This peaceful event, sponsored nationally by the Terrorism Awareness Project and implemented at GWU by Young America’s Foundation, has been carefully targeted both years as a criticism of radical Islam, and student leaders have emphasized this is a comparatively small movement not to be identified with the religion of Islam itself. But last year, campus leftists spread racist posters across campus in their name, which got campus conservatives reviled by their peers and by the administration alike for spreading “hate speech.”


Last October 8, two weeks before Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week (IFAW) was to be held, seven left-wing students plastered campus with fliers purportedly from the week’s founders that read, “Hate Muslims? So Do We!!!” Before YAF had advertized the event, campus radicals had defined it, and its student sponsors, as hateful.


Backlash was instant. All conservative students associated with the event were presumed guilty, with then-YAF president Sergio Gor enduring a singular harassment from his fellow students. Several had said IFAW should be suppressed. The administration bound into action the same day. Bridgette Behling, GWU’s assistant director of the Student Activities Center, blamed YAF for the campus environment, demanding the group draft a statement that could lead to its members’ expulsion. “This statement should also include your plan for preventing these things from happening as well as the consequences for these things happening,” she e-mailed the conservatives. “It is important that we have this document should any further incidents occur as we move forward.” Student Association Executive Vice President Brand Kroeger was more forthcoming, telling the GWU student newspaper The Hatchet he “would support expulsion. These acts are completely heinous.”


Late the next evening, seven left-wing or Muslim students admitted to hanging the fliers in YAF’s name: Adam Kokesh, Amal Rammah, Lara Masri, Yong Kwon, Brian Tierny, Ned Goodwin, and Maxine Nwigwe. (Another two admitted wrongdoing but remain anonymous to this day.) Adam Kokesh, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), was already something of a left-wing celebrity for protesting the Iraq war in uniform. The previous month, Kokesh and two others had been arrested for defacing public property, specifically for illegally posting protest signs in the nation’s capital during an International ANSWER rally. Far from chastened, the seven leftists boasted, “It was inspiring to see that students directed their attention to the real threat”; that is, they were overjoyed their prank had led to campus conservatives wrongly being labeled as bigots and threatened with expulsion.


When the perpetrators revealed themselves as left-wingers, the administration changed its outlook faster than a Communist after the Hitler-Stalin pact. The administration turned the group’s punishment over to Student Judicial Services pending an “investigation.” The group held counter-demonstrations throughout Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. Kokesh delivered a speech alleging rampant racism in the U.S. military, and the George Washington University chapter of the Muslim Students Association protested until hoarse.


And the coup de grace? The university knew the perpetrators’ identities the whole time. A campus police report revealed five university police officers had caught the nine left-wing students in the act of posting the fliers early that Monday morning and confronted Kokesh during a “mediation meeting” later that day. Last November The Hatchet reported that when caught, “The students said they were not affiliated with YAF.” However, the police report states one of the students said he was “was just helping the foundation by posting the fliers.” Again, Adam Kokesh proved problematic: “officers threatened the use of pepper spray when Kokesh did not comply with orders to stop and identify himself.” Although the exposé noted “the students involved met each other through the Campus Anti-War Network, a student organization,” no disciplinary action or defunding was taken against that organization.


Ultimately, the university gave the nine a $25 fine and some form of “disciplinary probation.” Yet this probation seems to have been waived, as well. Last month, Kokesh disrupted John McCain’s speech at the Republican National Convention by unfurling a banner that read, “You Can’t Win an Occupation” on one side and “McCain Votes Against Vets” on the other. (Video.) Security promptly ushered him out of the Xccel Energy Center. Yet the administration does not appear to have subjected Kokesh to any further punishment.

Onward and Upward


This year, the campus dynamics are different. This year’s Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week posters – the ones the group actually produced – depict a series of patriotic and tolerant people, emblazoned with the words, “This is Islam.” The campus environment has been as positive as IFAW’s intentions. “This year, as opposed to last, everyone is friendly,” said Rob Lockwood, president of GWU’s Young America’s Foundation. He said the IFAW organizers’ central message has always been “dialogue and awareness before confrontation,” and it has paid off. Lockwood related that IFAW planners met with campus Muslims and the College Democrats. Although the College Democrats will not sponsor the week, Lockwood said they have pledged to distribute an explanation of the events to its 1,300-member e-mail listserv on Sunday night. (“We’ll see if they stay true to their word,” he cautioned.) Both groups have agreed not to protest, and Lockwood stated some members of the MSA told him they may sign the Petition for Hadith Reform individually.


The petition, organized by the Terrorism Awareness Project, calls on Muslims to renounce hateful Islamic writings that call for the genocide of Jews or the repression of non-Muslims. Its signatories repudiate any Islamic text that teaches “Islamic supremacism, the subjugation of non-Muslims under the rule of Islamic law, and the subjugation of women” and affirm the “right of all people to live free from violence, intimidation, and coercion.” Incredibly, the MSA refused to condemn the rhetoric and implementation of genocide this April.


In addition to the petition drive, students will screen the film Islam v. Islamists on Tuesday, (October 14 at 10:00 p.m. in the Martin Center, Room 403). The film’s title is another indication this event is not aimed at all Muslims.


Egyptian-born Nonie Darwish, author of Now they Call Me Infidel: Why I renounced Jihad for America, Israel and the War on Terror, will keynote this year’s event. Darwish, whose new book Cruel And Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Effects of Sharia Law comes out next month, will talk about her exposure to radical Islam at the Jack Morton Auditorium on Thursday, October 16, at 7:30 p.m. Lockwood said one-third of the auditorium is already spoken for before tickets have gone on sale. Four-times the number of students are helping to post the 980 fliers promoting the speech. (As of this writing, tickets were still available by contacting yaf.gwu@gmail.com.)


Campus enthusiasm for this year’s IFAW buoys Lockwood’s sense of optimism. “We’re very satisfied with the direction and reception we’ve gotten here.”


But by contrast, how could anything be worse?

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