BAMN: the “anti-fascist” fascists

A BAMN protest

The organization’s full name is a mouthful: “The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights, and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary.” It’s generally referred to “By Any Means Necessary” or by the acronym BAMN. Founded in California in 1995, reportedly as a “front group for an obscure Detroit-based Trotskyist political party called the Revolutionary Workers League,” it’s spent most of the years since then participating in protests and litigation in defense of affirmative action. At times it has gone beyond mere protesting to physical violence and vandalism, disrupting government meetings.

Outside the Sacramento State Capitol after the BAMN action

During the last couple of years, however, nationwide awareness of BAMN has soared – largely owing to the increasing scale and aggressiveness of its activities. In December 2014, in collaboration with Black Lives Matter, it blocked traffic on Interstate 80 in the Bay Area – a mass action that led to the arrest of 210 people. At a June 2016 outside the California State Capitol in  Sacramento, brutal BAMN members sent ten people to the hospital with stab wounds. Both the FBI and the Defense Department have described BAMN as being involved in terrorism.

The Berkeley riot

On February 1 of this year, BAMN made what were probably its biggest headlines yet when it organized an out-and-out riot at UC Berkeley that succeeded in closing down a scheduled speech by conservative journalist Milo Yiannopoulos. During that rampage, the university and city police stood down while about 150 BAMN thugs dressed in black behaved brutally, destroyed college, city, and private property both on campus and off, and threw “rocks and incendiary devices” at cops.

Yvette Felarca

One of BAMN’s more high-profile leaders is Yvette Felarca, a teacher at Berkeley’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Middle School. At the above-mentioned Sacramento rally, Felarca was reported by the San Jose Mercury-News to have “shoved a man to the ground and instigated a brawl.” Also, a video showwed her at the Sacramento rally, punching a man in the stomach and yelling “Get the fuck off our streets.” When the news of her conduct spread, thousands of outraged Berkeley parents signed a petition demanding her dismissal. In response to the complaints, the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) put her on paid leave and launched an “investigation” – one of those things that academic administrators do to make it look as if they’re doing something.

Six weeks later she was back on the job. BUSD spokesman Mark Coplan served up one of the most jaw-dropping excuses of all time. “It’s one thing if it was during a school day, but she is on vacation,” Coplan said. “We don’t have any authority or business to judge what an employee does in her off time.”

And so on February 1 there she was in Berkeley, orchestrating yet another BAMN riot.

More tomorrow.

Trump evil, CAIR good: the world of Bethany Allen

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian

This week we’ve been exploring the world of Foreign Policy assistant editor Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, who appears to have begun making a successful career for herself as a slick apologist for even the most extreme aspects of Islam. She did this recently by painting Georgetown University’s Jonathan A.C. Brown, who defended sharia law’s acceptance of slavery, as a victim of Islamophobia. Christmas before last, she performed a similar service for her Muslim husband, celebrating her parents’ Thanksgiving-dinner capitulation to his religion’s strict dietary laws as a triumph over cruel anti-Islamic bigotry.

She’s still at it. On a February 9 of this year, Allen-Ebrahimian wrote an article for the Washington Post in which she worried about the prospects for Muslim life in America under Trump – who, she charged, hates Muslims, and is surrounded by people who share that hatred. She noted that after 9/11 American Muslims “didn’t know where to turn for help….They had almost no political, social or cultural capital.” They were helpless, she lamented, when “Muslims and Muslim charities were targeted in terrorism investigations.” She omitted to mention, however, that these investigations found many Muslims, including supposedly peaceful imams and activists, to have intimate links to terrorists, and discovered that many Muslim “charities” were, in fact, fronts for terrorist groups. Mosques, too.

Ghassan Elashi, a CAIR leader convicted of funneling money to Hamas

But American Muslims, she reported, are no longer powerless. “American Muslims have learned to arm themselves, not with weapons but with the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution….Muslim society in the United States has undergone a stunning transformation.” There are two Muslims in Congress, and plenty of groups such as “the Muslim Legal Fund of America, the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America, the Alliance for an Indivisible America 2020, WORDE, the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council, the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in Michigan, Ta’leef Collective in California, the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation and many others.”

She highlighted “the nation’s premier Muslim civil rights advocacy organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR),” which in recent years has “vastly expanded its footprint and now operates 30 offices nationwide.” Again, she omitted to point out that CAIR has been shown to be closely tied to Hamas; that it has given aid to, and expressed support for, terrorist atrocities; and that it is, essentially, a front for a coalition of radical Islamic groups.

Ahmad Saleem (left, with lawyer), arrested last year on child-trafficking charges

But Trump, Allen-Ebrahimian freeted, may undo all of this. She quoted a speaker at CAIR’s annual banquet last December: “A nightmare that we have been fighting in this country for the past 15 years is now in the White House.” Many Americans – indeed, many people throughout the West – would say that the nightmare we have been fighting for the past 15 years is something called Islamic terrorism, which has taken thousands of lives in barbaric acts in New York, Paris, London, Madrid, San Bernardino, Orlando, Boston, Brussels, Mumbai, Bali, and numerous other places. In her Post article, and throughout all the work of hers that we’ve looked at, Allen-Ebrahimian only mentions these horrible actions in the context of complaining about reasonable actions intended to prevent more of them.

Bethany Allen: whitewashing totalitarian religion

Yesterday we took a look at Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian’s Christman 2015 Washington Post article about how her Christian family went all halal at Thanksgiving time in order to please her grumpy Muslim husband. We were disturbed by the article but impressed by many of the reactions in the Post‘s online comments field.

Bethany Allen-Ebrahamian

To be sure, many readers congratulated Allen Ebrahimian’s family for their welcoming spirit. Others, however, were more critical. One reader was put off by Allen-Ebrahimian’s statement that American Islamophobia had made her cry: “I bet the families of the San Bernardino victims burst into tears occasionally too.” Another reader didn’t appreciate the Trump bashing: “So you and your friends have a problem with Donald Trump because he wants to put more scrutiny to identify potential terrorists. Say that to the families who lost their loved ones in San Bernardino and Paris.” Another pointed out that Allen-Ebrahimian had married into a religion that punishes apostates with death and allows men to have up to four wives. Yet another was “sick and tired of the seemingly endless procession of Islamophobia articles and editorials by the Washington Post….Muslims are safer here than probably any other place in the world.”

The San Bernardino terrorists

A couple of readers zeroed in on Allen-Ebrahimian’s husband – and his family: “What kind of a grown up is he when he doesn’t want to talk to your family because he was not served halal food[?]” Also: “I would be very interested to know the accommodations offered to you by your husband’s family.” Another reader had the same thought: “you (and your family) assimilated into his culture and started eating halal. What has he done to assimilate into yours?” Indeed, what’s missing from Allen-Ebrahimian’s essay is any sign of recognition on her part that she and her family have, unthinkingly or otherwise, accepted the idea that such accommodation should go only one way.

Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen and his wife

Another reader made essentially the same point: “When she was a child and her enlightened family took those global travels to broaden the kids’ minds, did they feel ‘isolated’ because nobody in Nairobi or Vienna served up Thanksgiving turkeys?…When she moved to China, did she expect people to Americanize their holidays for her benefit? On the contrary – by her own reckoning she did everything she could to leave Texas behind, and learn about, celebrate, and adapt to the traditions of her host country. Somehow in the United States, though, the progressive narrative deems that Americans are insensitive for celebrating their own traditions, and that people who move here voluntarily are victims when locals aren’t sufficiently speedy at rewriting traditions on their behalf.”

We might add that it’s especially unsettling to discover that Allen-Ebrahimian, raised in a free country, was drawn to a tyrannical Communist one (China) and, raised in a family that practiced a tolerant and loving version of the Christian faith, has now found herself whitewashing a totalitarian religious ideology.

Foreign Policy‘s apologist for Communist China and sharia law

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian

This week we’ve been discussing Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian’s breathtakingly shameless attempt to rehabilitate Georgetown University sharia apologist Jonathan A.C. Brown and to smear his critics. This episode led us to ask: who is this Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian? We found a couple of items that may help answer that question.

Exhibit A: on December 23, 2015, the Washington Post published a piece by Allen-Ebrahimian that was plainly meant to be a heartwarming holiday story. She began by explaining that the 2015 holiday season was “unlike any other” she had ever experienced because this time Donald Trump had left “a lump of coal in my stocking, reminding me just how unwelcome my multi-faith family would be in his version of America.”

Allen-Ebrahimian and her husband

She explained that her husband is an Iranian Muslim who “tends to be particularly self-conscious when he’s invited to a meal where there are no halal, or at least vegetarian, options.” You see, even though he’d lived in the U.S. for 12 years, meals were “still an unwanted reminder that even something as universal as breaking bread can set him apart from everyone else.” A curious way to put it: the only thing setting her husband apart at dinners with non-Muslims are his own religion’s dietary rules.

Allen-Ebrahimian gave a brief account of her own background: born in Abilene to liberal Christian parents, she was taken by her parents on trips around the world, raised largely in Vienna, Austria, and after college moved to China, having learned from her travels “that neither Christians nor Americans had a monopoly on kindness, happiness or morality.” In China, she kept mum about her Christian and Texan roots, apparently ashamed of her background in that officially atheist totalitarian country.

Trump: coal in her stocking

Then she married a Muslim. At their first family Christmas dinner together, in 2014, her mother “included halal and vegetarian options for my new husband, and we were both thankful.” But, she added, “[t]hat was before Paris, before San Bernardino, before notions of religious tests and registries burst upon our national dialogue like a plague.” One would think she might refer to the terrorist atrocities as being “like a plague,” but no – it’s the idea of heavy vetting (misrepresented by her, as by many others, as “religious tests and registries”) that is “like a plague.”

So it was that as Christmas 2015 approached, Allen-Ebrahimian felt “a bit like we’re under siege.” Her anxiety caused her to break into tears. But then, at Thanksgiving, her mother “went to even greater lengths to see that almost everything was halal: Three whole zabihah chickens, with broth she carefully siphoned off into plastic containers for use in gravy and casseroles. Halal ground beef for taco night. Halal hamburger patties cooked in a clean pan on a stove rather than on the grill outside, which was covered in non-halal meat drippings. Even turkey bacon sprinkled liberally over salads and wrapped in spirals around asparagus clusters.” The effect on Allen-Ebrahimian’s husband “was immediate. Normally reserved, he talked more, cracked jokes and spent more time with everyone in the family room.”

Beautiful story, right? Or is it? Think about it and we’ll get back together tomorrow.

Bethany Allen: defending a slavery defender

Jonathan A.C. Brown

We saw yesterday how Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, with the surprising (and dismaying) support of Foreign Policy magazine, served up a disingenous apologia in mid March for Jonathan A.C. Brown. Brown, an Islamic convert who is head of the Islamic propaganda factory at Georgetown University known as the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (it’s named for the Saudi royal who bankrolled it), had given a lecture in February in which he made the mistake of telling a little bit too much truth about his adopted religion. Islam, he made clear, thinks slavery is O.K. And so does he. Allen-Ebrahimian’s attempt to rehabilitate Brown consisted of two parts: a wholesale misrepresentation of his lecture (he was actually criticizing slavery, Allen-Ebrahimian insisted, not supporting it) and a thoroughgoing slander of Brown’s critics (who, she explained, are nothing but Islamophobes). She focused especially on Robert Spencer, an informed and articulate critic of Islam and the proprietor of the Jihad Watch website.

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian and her husband

On March 22, Spencer shot back. “Foreign Policy magazine has published a lurid fantasy,” he wrote, summing up Allen-Ebrahimian’s argument as follows: “a sinister and well-heeled cabal of racist, bigoted ‘Islamophobes’ have smeared a thoughtful, mild-mannered academic, Professor Jonathan Brown of Georgetown University, and opened him up to death threats, as part of a larger endeavor to do nothing less than deprive Muslims of the freedom of speech.” Spencer’s reply: “In reality, just about the opposite is true, and this Foreign Policy article is a sterling example of the victimhood propaganda that the establishment media uses in order to cover for its own and deflect attention away from unpleasant realities of Islam.” Spencer went on:

“Brown’s attempts to explain the faith,” we’re told, “have made him a hate figure for the American right. A flood of articles accuse him of being an apologist for slavery and rape.”

No, his “attempts to explain the faith” didn’t make him into a “hate figure.” His acting quite clearly as an apologist for slavery and rape did that, if he is actually a “hate figure” at all.

Rejecting Allen-Ebrahimian’s absurd claim that Brown had “addressed slavery in Islam, hoping to combat the idea that Islam could ever condone the subjugation and exploitation of human beings,” Spencer pointed out that “Brown did not combat the idea that Islam condoned slavery. He said: ‘I don’t think it’s morally evil to own somebody.’ He also condoned rape of the female non-Muslim war captives: ‘Consent isn’t necessary for lawful sex.’” Spencer linked to a video of Brown’s lecture and encouraged readers to watch it and see for themselves. As for Allen-Ebrahimian’s claim that Brown was the target of some far-right Islamophobic cabal, Spencer noted that “it was a fellow Muslim, Umar Lee, who first blew the whistle on Brown’s apologetics for slavery and rape.”

Spencer also expressed doubt about Allen-Ebrahimian’s claim that Brown had received death threats. (“There are so very many fake anti-Muslim hate crimes, and it is the Left today, not the Right, that is thuggish, hateful and violent. Unless Brown publishes specifics of threats he has received, and reports them to law enforcement, as I myself have done many times with death threats I have received from his coreligionists, his claim warrants extreme skepticism.”)

Robert Spencer

What about Allen-Ebrahimian’s assertion that he and others were out “to marginalize any Muslim who speaks out”? Spencer reminded readers that Brown’s critics were hardly in a position to “marginalize” anybody. After all, it is Brown, not most of his critics, who enjoys a plum job at a respected university and can count on powerful publications such as Foreign Policy and the Washington Post to come to his defense. Also, while Brown’s critics were only responding in a civilized way to a set of barbaric pronouncements by Brown – quoting him verbatim, posting the video of his lecture, and calling him out on the things he had actually said – Allen-Ebrahimian was slickly misrepresenting Brown’s statements and his critics’ statements as well as impugning the latter’s motives.

And of Allen-Ebrahimian’s characterization of Brown as a “normal American Muslim”? No way: “His father-in-law, Sami al-Arian, is a convicted jihad terror leader.” Interesting to know. In her conclusion, Allen-Ebrahimian had been pleased to report that Georgetown University “had remained very supportive” of him. Of course it had! As Spencer neatly put it: “Georgetown gets far too much Saudi money” to do otherwise.

Foreign Policy: a despicable whitewash

Jonathan A.C. Brown

Back in March, we spent several days examining Jonathan A. C. Brown, a convert to Islam who runs Georgetown University’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and teaches in Georgetown’s Department of Arab and Islamic Studies. In particular, we paid attention to a February lecture by Brown entitled “Islam and the Problem of Slavery,” in which he did a masterful job of whitewashing his adopted faith. His lecture professed to address the question: “Is there slavery in Islam?” The answer to this question is clear: Yes. But Brown served up one ridiculous qualifier after another.

What, after all, he wondered aloud, do we mean by slavery? The line between a slave and some paid employees, he suggested, is not a clear one. (Ridiculous.) In many ways, people are “slaves” to their spouses and others whom they love. (Also ridiculous.) Slaves in Muslim households have traditionally been treated much better than prisoners on American chain gangs. (Prove it.) Unlike antebellum slavery in the American South, Muslim slavery has never been “racialized.” (An outright lie.) During the days of the Ottoman Empire, many slaves were well-treated and widely respected. (Again, prove it. And even if true, so what?) Brown waxed philosophical: “What does ownership mean?” “[W]hat does freedom mean?” After his talk, Brown entertained questions from the audience, and in reply to one of them he stated quite clearly: “It’s not immoral for one human to own another human.”

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian

Deservedly, Brown’s lecture drew widespread attention and condemnation. But others have rushed to his defense. Enter Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, who, writing on March 16 under the aegis of the respected journal Foreign Policy (where she is an assistant editor), presented the reaction to Brown as an example of Islamophobia. The title of her piece was “The Making of Islamophobia Inc.,” and under the title was this summary: “A well-funded network is trying to strip the right to speak away from American Muslims and fanning the politics of fear.” Allen-Ebrahimian argued that while Brown’s work is largely “aimed at making Islamic thought more accessible to general audiences,” his “attempts to explain the faith have made him a hate figure for the American right.” In his February lecture, she claimed, Brown had “addressed slavery in Islam, hoping to combat the idea that Islam could ever condone the subjugation and exploitation of human beings.”

Robert Spencer

In response, according to Allen-Ebrahimian, right-wingers had come out in force, misrepresenting Brown’s arguments. Brown, she lamented, “is the victim of an increasingly empowered industry of Islamophobia that constricts the space for balanced and open dialogue, sidelining the very Muslims who are doing the most to promote peaceful, orthodox interpretations of Islam.” Allen-Ebrahimian compared these critics of Brown to “the McCarthyites of the 1950s.” Singling out one of those critics, the Islam expert Robert Spencer, Allen-Ebrahimian actually suggested that Spencer’s writings had inspired the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik. She also cited such websites as the Daily Caller, Heat Street, and Breitbart, calling them part of “a self-reinforcing online ecosystem that churns out frenzied headlines and constructs alternate online biographies…in which normal American Muslims are painted as Muslim Brotherhood-linked, jihad-loving, rape-defending threats to the American way of life. Brown’s lecture lasted like chum in shark-infested waters.”

Fortunately, Allen-Ebrahimian’s reprehensible, mendacious screed wasn’t allowed to stand. Tune in tomorrow.

Sarsour’s sham feminism

Yesterday we met Linda Sarsour, an organizer of the Women’s March on January 21 – and a devout Muslim who defends Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women and accuses the U.S. of executing Muslim children.

linda-sarsour-007
Linda Sarsour

Not long before the Women’s March raised her profile, Sarsour deleted dozens of old tweets – which, fortunately, had already been saved by critics. In some of these tweets, she expressed her support for sharia law. For example: “You’ll know when you’re living under Sharia Law if suddenly all your loans & credit cars become interest free. Sound nice, doesn’t it?” Here’s another: “I don’t drink alcohol, don’t eat pork, I follow Islamic way of living. That’s all Sharia law is.” Then there’s this one: “shariah law is reasonable and once u read into the details it makes a lot of sense.”

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The Women’s March

In fact, there’s nothing “reasonable” about sharia. It is anti-woman, anti-human, anti-freedom. It allows men to have four wives but allows women to have only one husband. It permits men to divorce at will while forcing women who want divorces to go through lengthy judicial processes that may or may not end in divorce. Under sharia, a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man. Women are required to obey their husbands and must ask permission to leave the house. A woman who claims to have been raped must produce four male witnesses, and if they cannot be found, she is considered not to have been raped but to have engaged in forbidden sex acts for which she can be executed. Sharia prescribes the death penalty for gays, for apostates, for Muslim women who marry infidel men, and for much else.

There are women with backgrounds in the Muslim world who have stood up courageously for their rights of their sisters living under sharia. One of them is Ayaan Hirsi Ali; another is Brigitte Gabriel. Sansour has viciously attacked both of these women. In one tweet she said that Hirsi Ali and Gabriel were “asking 4 an a$$ whippin’.” She added: “I wish I could take their vaginas away – they don’t deserve to be women.” In 2014 Sansour, who has called Hirsi Ali a “hatemonger,” took part in a successful campaign to get Brandeis University to cancel plans to award her an honorary degree.

When asked on Fox News about Sarsour, Hirsi Ali commented: “Ms. Sarsour is hostile to me not because she knows me but because she is a fake feminist. Ms. Sarsour is not interested in universal human rights. She is a defender of sharia law [and] there is no principle that demeans, degrades, and dehumanizes women more than the principle of sharia law.” Hirsi Ali went on to ask why, if Sarsour is so concerned about women’s rights, she never speaks up for the women imprisoned and executed in Muslim countries for such “crimes” as blasphemy. Hirsi Ali noted that when some of her own friends told her they would be participating in the Women’s March, she told them: “We have real threats to women.” She enumerated some of them: female genital mutilation; child brides; gender-selective abortion. Why, Hirsi Ali asked, weren’t American women marching against those atrocities?

UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 20: Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., speaks at a news conference at the House Triangle with faith leaders to urge Congress to protect programs such as Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare and call on lawmakers make sure "everyone pays their fair share." (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn.

Good questions. Clearly, Sansour has no business being viewed as a feminist heroine. And yet many leading figures on the left have declared their unconditional loyalty to her. Among those who have tweeted their support are Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Keith Ellison, TV commentators Van Jones and Sally Kohn, Amnesty International and the Southern Poverty Law Center, and celebrities Susan Sarandon, Russell Simmons, and Mark Ruffalo (who told Sansour: “You are the best of what America is”).

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Mark Ruffalo

How can this be? How can a woman who supports sharia be embraced by self-styled progressives as “the best of what America is”? Unfortunately, many “progressive” Americans today suffer from a particularly perverse brand of cognitive dissonance when it comes to Islam. Like everyone else, they know about Islamic terrorism, and they’ve heard (they must have heard, at this point) that sharia is profoundly illiberal; and yet they’re incapable of seeing Islam as anything other than a religion of victims. They have no trouble criticizing Christianity, but they consider any criticism of Islam – up to and including criticism of even the most brutal aspects of sharia – to be beyond the pale. And so it was that we witnessed, on January 21, the obscene spectacle of an immense crowd of self-declared freedom lovers applauding a proud adherent of sharia.