John J. Miller & Ramesh Ponnuru
he Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a press release today denouncing what it describes as an "Islamophobic smear campaign" against "American Muslims and the groups that represent them." The formulation is typical of CAIR, which makes no distinction between criticism of itself as an organization, on the one hand, and criticism of the American Muslim population for which it purports to speak or of Islam as a religion.
The representational claims of "civil rights groups"-CAIR presents itself as one-are frequently dubious (who elected CAIR?) and illiberal (why should a diverse group of people be taken to speak with one voice?). But CAIR's claim to represent American Muslims is especially troubling. If that claim is true, it is worrisome. If false, it is a slander against American Muslims. CAIR's softness on terrorism, and political Islamism in general, is notorious.
Two weeks after the attacks, Jake Tapper of Salon tried to pin down CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper's position on the attacks; he was unable to get him to condemn Osama bin Laden (he said he would do so "if" he were behind the attacks), previous acts of terror linked to bin Laden, or bin Laden's call for Muslims to attack Americans. Hooper said he resented the question rather than answer it. Tapper also noted that CAIR refuses to condemn Hamas or Hezbollah. Hooper wrote a thuggish and evasive response, accusing Tapper of writing a "hit piece on American Muslims"-a "McCarthyite" hit piece, no less. Today's press release is in keeping with CAIR's m.o.
A particularly nice touch is the release's reference to Daniel Pipes (an expert on the Mideast and a frequent contributor to conservative publications including NR) as "one of the foremost proponents of the smear campaign" against Muslims. Pipes is, in fact, himself the victim of a CAIR smear campaign. If you go to danielpipes.com you will be redirected to a CAIR write-up that systematically distorts Pipes's writings; you have to go to danielpipes.org to get a clearer view.
We would be remiss if we did not mention that CAIR, although increasingly notorious in journalistic circles, still retains some credibility among public officials who ought to know better. CAIR's website boasts that on October 26 it was represented at a meeting with Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta.