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Michael Graham, Killed in Action By: Frank J Gaffney Jr.
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The next time ABC’s Nightline does one of its programs dedicated to the men and women killed in action (KIA) in the present conflict, they should display the portrait of conservative talk show host, Michael Graham.  

Of course, Disney and the ABC television and radio network it owns will do no such thing.  They will decline, not because Mr. Graham wasn’t literally shot or blown up or beheaded on some distant battlefield.  Rather, ABC would refuse to publicize what happened to Mr. Graham because he was a KIA here at home, a combatant in the War of Ideas who was effectively decapitated by the network itself.

Yesterday, ABC fired the popular host of its midday program on its Washington affiliate, WMAL, having suspended him several weeks before.  The reason:  Mr. Graham unburdened himself on July 18th of a statement about Islam that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said it and “hundreds” of other Muslims in this country found offensive, or as CAIR prefers to put it “bigoted” and “Islamophobic.”


Like other American combatants in this war, Michael Graham was a volunteer.  He opened his fateful remarks by announcing that he might lose his job for what he was about to say.  Like other Americans literally killed in action, he believed that it was his duty to expose himself to enemy fire in the service of his country.


So what, exactly did Mr. Graham say that resulted in him being KIA in the War of Ideas?  Remember, this is a war British Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush have made clear is every bit as real and important as the military part of our mortal conflict with what they both have described as an evil, totalitarian ideology.  Let’s call it Islamofascism.


As CAIR noted in a press release issued yesterday that gloated over the organization’s success in silencing one of its most effective critics, Michael Graham had said:  “1. ‘Islam is a terrorist organization.’ 2. ‘Islam is at war with America.’ 3. ‘The problem is not extremism. The problem is Islam.’ 4. ‘We are at war with a terrorist organization named Islam.’”


Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that these were verbatim quotes and that there was not unfair to take them out of context.  (In fact, as Andrew McCarthy points out in a terrific defense of Michael Graham in National Review Online today, the context is important.  Mr. Graham actually said:  “Because of the mix of Islamic theology that — rightly or wrongly — is interpreted to promote violence, added to an organizational structure that allows violent radicals to operate openly in Islam’s name with impunity, Islam has, sadly, become a terrorist organization.  It pains me to say it. But the good news is it doesn’t have to stay this way, if the vast majority of Muslims who don’t support terror will step forward and re-claim their religion.”)


For most Americans, the Graham remarks CAIR cited might seem at the very least intemperate, if not actually unacceptably intolerant.  Unfortunately, they may only be premature.  If the Islamofascists have their way – with not inconsiderable help from their allies in the War of Ideas like CAIR – Michael Graham’s harsh characterization of the Islamic faith will ineluctably be true.  Indeed, points 1-4 above are precisely the Islamists’ agenda for Islam.


Mr. Graham actually made such an observation elsewhere in the July 18 statement that was used to take him out, a statement that is – in its totality – a thoughtful and articulate depiction of the nature of the struggle we are in.  CAIR, in its determination not only to deny this host his microphone but to make an example of him in order to intimidate every other talk show in the country, as well as their management and advertisers, chose to ignore these clarifying comments by Mr. Graham:


As I've said many times, I have great sympathy for those Muslims of good will who want their faith to be a true "religion of peace." I believe that terrorism and murder do violate the sensibilities and inherent decency of the vast majority of the world's Muslims. I believe they want peace.


Sadly, the organization and fundamental theology of Islam as it is constituted today allows for hatreds most Muslims do not share to thrive, and for criminals they oppose to operate in the name of their faith.


In short, Michael Graham was making a point so central to the ideological death struggle in which we find ourselves in this so-called Global War on Terror that our foes knew he had to be suppressed.  He was noting that organizations like CAIR, to say nothing of those who are even more forthright about their Islamist sympathies and ties, do not speak for all Muslims.


This is simply intolerable since prominent, well-funded (usually with Saudi money) Muslim- and Arab-American organizations like CAIR insist that they represent the aforementioned communities in America.  They cast themselves as the defenders of the faith against all who would portray it as non-monolithic, let alone divided about the Islamists.  And such groups use their success in silencing those who challenge their assertions, as Michael Graham has done – be they Muslims or non-Muslims, whether via threatened boycotts, lawsuits, ad hominem attacks (calling people “bigots” and “racists” being favored ones) or other acts of intimidation – to advance their side in the War of Ideas.


Make no mistake, the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ sympathies lie with the other team in the War of Ideas.  CAIR was co-founded in 1994 by Omar Ahmed.  (Ahmed had previously co-founded in 1981 – together with Hamas leader and Specially Designated Terrorist Mousa Abu Marzouk – the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) a U.S.-based Hamas front organization and fund-raising arm.)  In the years since its founding, CAIR has helped to advance Saudi and other Islamist interests in America, often through aggressive lobbying and public relations operations like the ones that took out Michael Graham.


Since CAIR is so sensitive to what people say, it is worth examining a few of the things its leaders have said over the years.  According to the San Ramon Valley Herald, Ahmed told a group of Muslims in California in July 1998 that, “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant.  The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth.”


In March 2004, the Washington Times reported that Ahmed had praised suicide bombers to a youth session at the third annual convention of the Islamic Association of Palestine, held in Chicago in November 1999.  He reportedly said, “Fighting for freedom, fighting for Islam – that is not suicide.  They kill themselves for Islam.”


The Weekly Standard has reported that, for his part, CAIR’s executive director Nihad Awad, is on the record as being “in support of the Hamas movement.”  Newsday recounted his assertion to reporters in June 2001 that “Palestinians had the right to resist the Israeli occupation by all the means at their disposal.”


Then there is CAIR’s colorful National Communications Director, Ibrahim Hooper.  In September 2001, Salon.com reported that Hooper had said of Hamas, “If someone carries out terrorist attacks, they should be labeled as a terrorist...if they don’t they shouldn’t….If Hamas kills innocent civilians we condemn them.  But I’m not going to condemn legitimate resistance to Israeli occupation.”


In December 2001, Don Feder, at the time a columnist for the Boston Herald,  mused about Hooper’s defense of the Holy Land Foundation – which had just been shut down by federal authorities on suspicion of financing terrorism – as “a respectable Muslim charity that does good work….’ At a 1995 Los Angeles event, where the foundation raised $ 207,000, a military leader of Hamas exhorted the faithful: ‘Finish off the Israelis. Kill them all!’  Was this what Hooper meant by good work?”


Further insights into which side CAIR is on can be gleaned from Hooper’s defense of Saudi Arabia, reported in April 2002 by United Press International, for the kingdom’s announced decision to set aside another $50 million (in addition to $33 million it had already paid) for families and “victims” of the infitada.  Hooper questioned American suspicion of such “martyr” funds: “They want to make it sound like [all the money is for] the families of suicide bombers… Are you supposed to penalize some child, some widow, because of what their father did or did not do?”


CAIR’s reflexive support for Saudi Arabia is no accident.  The Saudis have been key financiers of CAIR activities and projects for years.  For example, the Weekly Standard reported in June 2003 that the construction of the Council’s Washington, D.C. headquarters was subsidized by a $250,000 grant from the Islamic Development Bank, an international financing organization based in Jeddah and run by a Saudi national, Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali. 


American Libraries gratefully reported in February 2003 that Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal donated $500,000 to a CAIR project that aims to put Wahhabi Islamic reading materials in public libraries across the United States.  Given the January 2005 Freedom House report that documented the placement by Saudi Arabia in American mosques of officially published and disseminated materials that are rabidly anti-semitic, anti-Christian and pro-jihadist, we would be foolish to view the CAIR/Saudi library initiative as a gift-horse.


Finally, no less a source than the Saudi Gazette declared in November 2002 that the World Association for Muslim Youth (WAMY) – a government-funded organization responsible for radical, Wahhabi proselytizing and recruitment – gave financial support for a 2002 CAIR weekly advertising campaign in American publications.  This gift to CAIR alone was valued at $1.04 million.


It must be said as well that some of CAIR’s associates have gone beyond providing covering fire in the War of Ideas for terrorists, their causes and Saudi and other funders.  In fact, three of the organization’s officials – Ghassan Elashi, Bassem Khafagi and Randall Royer – have been arrested in recent years and charged with direct involvement in terrorism-related activities. 


CAIR’s troubling behavior and associations precipitated a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security, chaired by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), on the eve of the second anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.  In the course of this hearing called to explore “Terrorism: Two Years After 9/11, Connecting the Dots,” Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) stated that CAIR has “intimate links with Hamas,” and “ties to terrorism.”  Even Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), who has long defended dubious American-Muslim organizations, noted that CAIR is “unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its associations with groups that are suspect.”


In the wake of the London bombings in July, UK counterpart organizations to CAIR and its ilk were pressed by the British government to issue a fatwah against terror.  This action put a spotlight on the failure of the self-described leading American-Muslim organizations to put out such a statement in the nearly four years since 9/11, prompting CAIR to scramble to issue one and seek maximum credit for doing so.


Never mind that the fatwah is of a piece with previous cynical actions by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, notably its denunciation of terror without any reference to the nature or perpetrators of the terror being condemned.  Since CAIR and its friends support Hamas and think it is justified as “legitimate resistance” against  occupiers, the implication can fairly be drawn that the terrorists being condemned are Israelis and Americans, not those attacking them. 


Contrast the CAIR-manufactured American fatwah with the sweeping, unequivocal and courageous denunciation of terror and its perpetrators (by name) issued last March by Spanish Muslims and you will get the picture:  The former is the equivalent in the War of Ideas of what the military calls “blowing smoke” – a device to blind the enemy, in this case the non-Islamist world, to their true intentions.


Fortunately, while Michael Graham may have been functionally “killed” in action as a result of ABC pulling the plug on his microphone, he has not been silenced.  In a statement he released yesterday after his firing, the once – and hopefully future – talk show host demonstrated that he has every intention of remaining what we all need him to be: an active combatant on America’s side in the War of Ideas.


…The real tragedy here [is that] the people who most need free speech and open dialogue on the issues facing Islam today are America's moderate Muslims. These are people of good will who have the difficult job ahead of reforming and rescuing their religion. They need all the help they can get.

The decision to give CAIR what it wants-a group with well-publicized ties to terrorists and terror-related organizations – will make it harder for the reformers to successfully face Islam's challenges. Still worse, silencing people like me will make it easier for Islamist extremists to dismiss all sincere calls for reform as mere “bigotry.”

When CAIR is able to quell dissent and label every critic a “bigot,” the chilling effect is felt far beyond ABC Radio and 630 WMAL. If anyone is owed an apology, it is the moderate, Muslim community who have been failed once again by the mainstream media.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is President of the Center for Security Policy in Washington.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is the founder, president, and CEO of The Center for Security Policy. During the Reagan administration, Gaffney was the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy, and a Professional Staff Member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by Senator John Tower (R-Texas). He is a columnist for The Washington Times, Jewish World Review, and Townhall.com and has also contributed to The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New Republic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Los Angeles Times, and Newsday.

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