12.31.2006

Boxer Recalls Award Due To "Terrorist Connections"

I was browsing through blogs and came across "No More Spin," a conservative blog that's mission is for "the clearing of all political spin; foreign and domestic." But besides the fact that the blog's mission statement is spin, I decided to browse it. In it I found a link to a Newsweek article titled "CAIR Play?" The article states that:
In a highly unusual move, Sen. Barbara Boxer of California has rescinded an award to an Islamic activist in her home state because of the man’s connections to a major American Muslim organization that recently has been courted by leading political figures and even the FBI.
The award that Boxer recalled was for Sacramento activist Basim Elkarra who serves as the executive director for the Sacramento office of the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR). What are these terrorist connections? Well, according to the courts there are none since CAIR has never been indited with a crime, but former members and those loosely associated with CAIR have.
all the cases cited by Kaufman [who wrote a blog asking Boxer to rescent her award] involve individuals who had only loose ties to the group in the past. One of the cases cited by Kaufman was Ghassan Elashi, a marketing executive in a Texas computer company and a founding director of CAIR's Texas chapter, who was convicted last year of financial dealings with Mousa Abu Marzook, a self-admitted leader of Hamas who now lives in Damascus. Another case involved Rabi Haddad, a former CAIR fund-raiser in Michigan, who was deported after being accused by Justice Department officials of providing funds to Hamas. “They were former members,” says Awad. “This is guilt by association.”
From what I've read in this article it seems that Elkarra, who is 27, seems to be a pretty upstanding person. During the time the award was recended he "recently spoke at a local synagogue as part of a CAIR-funded project to build relations with the Jewish community." Elkarra was also accused by conservatives, such as Kaufman, for defending the Muslim father and son in the infamous Lodi case. Yet taking an in depth look at this case Frontline found many inconsistencies in this case and that much of the case was essentially rooted in Islamophobia and bad interrogation tactics.

Essentially Elkarra is being singled out by Boxer because he works for the Council of American Islamic Relations. CAIR is a mainstream Muslim organization that speaks on behalf of many Muslims for this country and fights for American-Muslim respectability (as well as condemning terrorist attacks). This is a classic case of contemporary racism in America. Yes Klkarra is able to hold a job in America and he can walk freely on the streets without being slurred with racial epithets. Yet at the same time he is being singled out simply because he is Muslim. The fact that he is an American citizen who does community work for the Sacramento area and helped out (not defended) a Muslim father and son who were wrongly convicted (in my mind) of charges has no bearing whatsoever for many in the American public. Instead, he is seen as a Muslim who works for an organization that might (and that's a big might) have "ties to terrorists." Essentially these slurs on CAIR and Elkarra remind me of the slurs used against Martin Luther King, Jr. (nobody freak out I'm in no way comparing Elkarra to King) and the NAACP. Routinely King was accused of being a communist because of "alleged connections" with communist fronts, of course, during the height of the Cold War this caused a stir amongst main stream white Americans. Especially because King and the NAACP were pointing out to America some of their flaws and the actions that the NAACP and King took were risky and unpopular. Today the term communist has morphed into the word terrorist and while Blacks won't be accused anymore of being communist sympathizers (they are instead accused of too sensitive) Arab Americans and Muslim Americans are constantly being accused of having sympathies for terrorists when they decide to defend Muslim Americans and Muslims practices. And when they do defend Muslims they are always forced to add the qualifier, "I condemn all terrorist activities" or "I don't support Hamas," etc. Yet why should they need to state such things? Essentially they are only forced to state such things because they are Muslim. Many in the mainstream press and in America don't just see someone defending the religion of Islam or someone defending the civil rights of American citizens and immigrants, instead many see a Muslim defending such causes, and if a Muslim is defending such causes than some how many people associate the term "terrorist" with that person just because they are Muslim. And because they associate Muslim with terrorist they ask for qualifiers to see if they are really a "good Muslim" and a "good American" by asking them if they condemn suicide bombings and the like, even if that question has nothing to do with the topic!

Americans, instead of seeing individuals (as many conservatives claim they do, "I'm color blind," etc.), instead see someone who might be a threat since they wear a skull cap or pray facing Mecca. Yet if that person was white and was Christian immediately those qualifiers would disappear, and when was the last time an organization that had the term "Christian" in it was asked if they "support terrorists?" Basically what is surrounding this whole controversy are assumptions based on race and assumptions based on religion. Boxer is resending an award based on the fact that Elkarra works for an organization that might have loose connections with terrorists, even though such connections have never be proven and the organization has never been charged with any such connections by the government. In a country that has a law system that is supposed to be "innocent until proven guilty" Boxer and many others are showing us that in reality it's "guilty until proven innocent," which, for people of color and other minorities, has been the case since the first white pilgrims came to this land and slaughtered the first people of color (back then the majority) they saw.

Image From:
CAIR Chicago

1 comments:

nms said...

Thinks for looking at my blog, but I have to disagree with your analysis. CAIR's ties to terrorism are not baseless accusations, there are numerous examples of these ties. Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR, was quoted supporting Hamas. Many former members of CAIR have been arrested on terrorism charges. I'm not making this stuff up.

If Boxer had rescinded the award based solely on the fact that Elkarra was Muslim, I would strongly disagree with that decision. But the award was rescinded because of his connections to CAIR. I view that as a legitimate reason to take the award away. I'm not blindly concerned about terrorism, I do not view all Muslims as wrong or evil. To do so would be bigoted and ridiculous.

In case you're interested, here's a couple of websites that have detailed information on CAIR's ties to terrorism:
Anti-CAIR

Daniel Pipes