If someone knowingly and falsely accuses a particular Moslem or Moslem group of having terrorist ties, that is spreading hate; but if the charge is true, then that is not hateful--it's a fact, and should be enough to put someone in jail or get them deported from the country.
But how well is the case being made when accusing Moslems of terrorist ties. After all, just last month Sami Al-Arian was acquited on charges he provided support for terrorists.
Take a much smaller case in Florida.
In an article in the St. Petersburg Times, "Are bloggers against hate, or feeding it
?", S. I. Rosenbaum sets out to discredit Joe Kaufman and other bloggers whose writing apparently led to the moving of a Muslim retreat. The tone to the direction the article will take is in the sub-title:
Blogs dedicated to protecting America against terrorism are troubling the Muslim community.
That's the theme that runs through the article: the pomposity of the blogs and the persecution of the Moslem community.
From the beginning the focus is on the bloggers, starting with the surreal start of her piece:
It's 4 a.m. Somewhere near Coral Springs, Joe Kaufman is still at his computer.
Blurry with fatigue, he types:
It has been said that 80 percent of all the mosques ... inside the United States are ... tied to a radical form of Islam. ...
One of the American locations that ... influence has been prevalent is the Tampa-St. Pete area of Southwest Florida.
Kaufman is 35, clean-shaven, a lawyer's assistant. He goes inline skating and writes love songs on guitar. But his passion is his Web site, AmericansAgainstHate.com, where he monitors the activities of Florida's Muslim community, looking for terrorist links.
Kaufman's site is only one of a constellation of blogs with names like JihadWatch.com, MilitantIslamMonitor.org, and WesternResistance.com that are dedicated to the surveillance of American Muslims. The blogs link to one another, with more-traveled sites amplifying stories from more obscure ones, like Kaufman's.
He claims he has not found a single mosque in Florida that is not linked to terrorists.
The opening paragraphs are more like something in a novel than a newspaper. S. I. Rosenbaum doesn't address the threat of Islamist terrorism in the US, neither does she at any point in her article address whether any of Kaufman's claims are true--what little she mentions of them.
In fact, when she writes about the retreat having to move, there is not a word about the charges that Kaufman and others have made:
Jennifer Valko opened her e-mail and saw a message of hate.
I will undress you paint your body with pig fat & light you. America is on to you! Watch your back!
It was the Thursday after Christmas. In two days, the Muslim spiritual retreat she had helped plan was scheduled to take place at Cedarkirk, a Presbyterian camp and conference center in eastern Hillsborough County.
That morning, Kaufman had appeared on Fox News to talk about the retreat.
On his Web site, he had posted articles about it. He posted computer-altered images of masked terrorists standing in front of the Lithia campsite.
He said these images were meant to be "tongue in cheek." But some readers took them seriously. Hate mail and death threats poured in to the Tampa Muslim American Society.
The conference center's director also got death threats and closed the center for the weekend, forcing the retreat elsewhere.
Kaufman called the threats "disgusting," saying he gets death threats because of his blog.
"I know what I went through growing up, and it was never my intention to cause any type of hatred against anyone."
But he added, "I can't let it stop me from what I'm doing. ... I'm assisting in the safety and security of the American people."
By the time she is finished, Rosenbaum has pretty much discredited Kaufman and has painted the Moslem community as sympathetic victims.
To find out what Kaufman actually was saying about the retreat, you have to go to his article, A New Year’s Jihad Retreat
. Written on December 29th of last year when the retreat was still in the works, Kaufman writes about the MAS (Muslim American Society)-sponsored retreat and the planned speakers. MAS, along with ICNA (Islamic Circle of North America) "have held conferences featuring speakers accused of terror ties and have published material supporting suicide bombings against Israel" according to the Daily News
One featured speaker at the retreat, he writes, was to be former President of MAS-Chicago, Chantal Carnes, who has praised Hassan Al-Banna, the founder of the violent Muslim Brotherhood and about whom former federal prosecutor John Loftus has written
was a big fan of Hitler. Kaufman also quotes Daniel Pipes, who writes that
the Muslim American Society is the U.S. face of the Muslim Brotherhood – the single leading Islamist organization worldwide and, as I noted in "The Islamic States of America?" the MAS is not terribly subtle about its intention of "establishing an Islamic state" to replace the existing Constitutional order. Add to this the Muslim Brotherhood's six-decade history of resorting to violence...
Kaufman writes also of another scheduled speaker, Mazen Mokhtar:
Mokhtar is the Youth Division Head of MAS-New Jersey and the Khateeb (sermon-giver) of Masjid Al-Huda and the Institute of Islamic Studies. Mokhtar is also associated with the terrorist group Al-Qaeda.
In August of 2004, shortly before he was to speak at a Young Muslims camp in Pennsylvania (‘A Few Good Men’), the U.S. government accused Mokhtar of assisting Al-Qaeda through the use of a web site he had created.
Looks like powerful stuff--facts that Rosenbaum ignores. But in two previous articles, Rosenbaum does deal briefly with some of the issues. On December 31
In fact, federal agents searched Mokhtar's New Jersey home in 2004, after a man in London was arrested for using a Web site to fund terrorist groups.
An identical Web site was registered under Mokhtar's name. But he was never arrested.
On Friday, Mokhtar, a computer programmer, said he ran a business selling server space to host Web sites. He never knew what was contained on the site in question, he said.
On his Fox News program, Cavuto also read what he said was a quote from Mokhtar: "Suicide bombing should be encouraged because it's an effective way of attacking the enemy."
Although Cavuto did not say where the quote was from, a 1996 post on the online discussion forum Usenet, signed with Mokhtar's name, contains the words "effective method of attacking the enemy" in a discussion of whether suicide bombing is prohibited by Islamic law.
Mokhtar said Friday that he did not remember writing those words.
There goes Kaufman's case against Mokhtar. Instead of being "associated with the terrorist group Al-Qaeda," we have a man investigated and never formally accused. If there is more to the case against Mokhtar than that, Kaufman doesn't mention it
In Carnes' case it's even easier. On January 1
all Rosenbaum had to do was write:
Chantal Carnes didn't recognize herself.
A friend had e-mailed her a blogger's article. It described Carnes as a supporter of terrorists, a fan of suicide bombing.
Clearly Rosenbaum does not demolish all of the details of all the points that the blogs have been raising, nor does she even address them all--for instance she cheats her readers by mentioning CAIR, but not informing them that 3 members have been found guilty of terrorist ties
, as Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch, who is also quoted by Rosenbaum, points out
. She does not mention that CAIR has been named as a defendant in a class-action lawsuit going back to 9-11
(see update at bottom of that page).
But if charges are going to be made by bloggers on the Internet, they had better be more than mere statements about individuals admiring Hamas or being investigated (not accused), but never charged. Arafat's legacy to the 21st century is not only the creation of the mythos of the "Palestinian People," the confusion between between terrorists and freedom-fighters. We need to be more solid in the claims that we make, otherwise we will see alot more articles like S. I. Rosenbaum's.
Technorati Tag: Terrorism.