Thugs at Berkeley

Yvette Felarca

Yesterday we met Yvette Felarca, a leader of the California-based violent radical group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), which calls itself anti-fascist but whose own rhetoric and tactics are right out of the fascist playbook. Last June, she led a violent BAMN action in Sacramento that would have lost her her middle-school teaching job if the district administrators had any backbone. But that event pales alongside BAMN’s biggest operation ever, which took place on February 1 of this year. It was on that date that BAMN, employing physical violence and destroying property, succeeded in closing down a planned speech at UC Berkeley by conservative writer Milo Yiannopoulos.

Milo Yiannopoulos giving one of his campus speeches in drag

“This is not about free speech,” Felarca told her followers before the big event. She described Yiannopoulos and his crew as “not people who are interested in any genuine debate. They hide behind that hypocritically to try to shut up and put in our places women or Muslims or minorities or oppressed groups. But what they are really trying to do is they’re trying to assert their power, threaten us, intimidate us, rape us, kill us.” For those unfamiliar with Yiannopoulos’s standard act, it may be necessary to say that he and his cohorts are not out to rape or kill anyone – they are out to restore some semblance of sanity to a largely campus-based subculture that has been infected by the kind of demented rhetoric in which Felarca specializes, smearing anyone who disagrees with her fanatical views as Nazis, fascists, racists, and so on.

These and following pictures: the Berkeley riot

“This is real,” she continued. “This is life and death…. We can shut this fucker down, we can get rid of Donald Trump….when the Nazis tried to kill some of us, after we recovered, some of them threatened me and students at my school and tried to get me fired. But they didn’t succeed, and the students and the parents and the community rallied together and not only got me my job back but we’re stronger now, so we have got to stay united.”

There ensued – at the flagship campus of the University of California system – a spectacle out of warn-torn Beirut or Sarajevo. Felarca’s disciples behaved like storm troopers. Destruction was rampant. The image of the free exchange of ideas at an American college being shut down by jackbooted thugs was chilling.

As one news source put it: “Those who came to hear Yiannopoulos speak were beaten fists and flag poles by protesters, who also doused attendees with pepper spray….Several folks at the event posted videos online highlighting the violence, as well as protesters yelling ‘fuck you racists’ and other profanities. Others, wearing masks and dressed in all black, hurled Molotov cocktails, smashed out windows at a student center where Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak, threw fireworks and rocks at police, blocked traffic, and caused other mayhem.” CNN wrote: “The violent protesters tore down metal barriers, set fires near the campus bookstore and damaged the construction site of a new dorm. One woman wearing a red Trump hat was pepper sprayed in the face while being interviewed by CNN affiliate KGO. She was able to respond that she was OK after the attack.”

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.

Linda Sarsour, sharia apologist

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The Women’s March, January 21

On January 21 of this year, the Women’s March took place in cities around the world. The premise of the event was that Donald Trump, who had been inaugurated president of the United States the day before, is hostile to women and represents a threat to their success and well-being. Millions of women took part in the protests; the official list of speakers in Washington, where the main march took place, included such high-profile names as feminist Gloria Steinem, actress Scarlett Johansson, and TV talking head Melissa Harris-Perry.

But there was at least one speaker in Washington who wasn’t a household name. We’re referring to Linda Sarsour, a Brooklyn-born Muslim who was one of the four national co-chairs of the event. Sarsour is also the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York and a spokesperson for the National Network for Arab American Communities.

Sarsour, who wore a hijab at the march, began her speech with the words “as-salāmu ʿalaykum.” She then told the crowd: “I stand here before you unapologetically Muslim-American, unapologetically Palestinian American.” Her audience cheered. “Sisters and brothers,” she continued, “you are what democracy looks like!” More cheers. She then said: “I will respect the presidency, but I will not respect this President of the United States of America.” Trump, she explained, “won the election on the backs of Muslims” and other groups. “The Muslim community,” she charged, “has been suffering in silence for the past fifteen years.” Since, that is, 9/11.

Not that she mentioned 9/11. In fact she didn’t mention any of the acts of Islamic terror that have occurred since 2001, both in America and around the world. For her, the history of the last fifteen years has been a history not of one barbaric mass murder after another performed in the name of Islam, but of a silent epidemic of cruel, soul-crushing Islamophobia.

She elaborated on this view on a recent episode of The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC. Muslim children, she maintained, are being killed in the U.S. She offered no evidence or examples, and Maddow did not ask for any. Sarsour also complained that proposed anti-sharia laws in various U.S. states would “prevent Muslims from practicing their faith.” Maddow did not ask her to elaborate on this claim, either. On the contrary, Maddow essentially confirmed Sarsour’s dystopic picture.

Sarsour presents herself as a progressive, a supporter of democracy and freedom, of women’s equality and LGBT rights. But her own record belies this self-representation. Some time before the Women’s March, as it happens, Sarsour deleted innumerable tweets that she had written over the years. Fortunately some of her critics have archived the tweets. They make it clear that she’s not the freedom-lover she pretends to be. Instead, she’s a firm supporter of Hamas and Saudi Arabia. She has tweeted that Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women “puts us [the United States] to shame.” She’s defended Saudi Arabia’s record on women by pointing out that there are women in the Saudi parliament.

And there’s more. Tune in tomorrow.

The despicable Van Jones

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Van Jones

When news of Van Jones’s Communist background came to light in 2009 – shortly after he’d been named the Obama White House’s “green czar” – Kyle Smith of the New York Post called out the New York Times for ignoring the story. (Note: weirdly enough, the 2009 New York Post story linked to above is misdated at the Post‘s own website as being from 1999.) “The Times purposely ignored” Jones’s Communist history, wrote Smith, “because it was hoping that the story would go away, because it likes people like Comrade Jones and was hoping he wouldn’t be forced out.”

021804 Former Post employee,Kyle Smith, pictured here at Langan's has written a book called Love Monkeys which is loosly based on his time at the paper. The book includes several scenes in a bar that is based on Langans. And with no doubt Steve Dunlevy plays a role in the novel.
Kyle Smith

What was the Times‘s excuse for not reporting on the story? It claimed that Jones himself wasn’t important enough to merit such coverage. This was transparent hogwash. The New Yorker had profiled Jones at length only a few months earlier, and the Times’s own Thomas Friedman had devoted “four breathless fanzine pages” to him in a recent book. As Smith put it: “The Times continues to treat communism as a cute campus peccadillo like pot smoking or nude streaking.”

Also in 2009, it emerged that Jones had signed a letter suggesting that 9/11 was an inside job by top U.S. government officials. He had also engaged in race-war rhetoric, accusing “the white polluters and the white environmentalists” of “essentially steering pollution into people of color because they don’t have a social-justice framework.”

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Bill O’Reilly

Jones felt obliged by the media pressure to leave his White House job in order to keep the heat off of President Obama and his environmentalist colleagues. At the time, however, he did not renounce Communism. Not until 2011, when he was working at both the Center for American Progress and Princeton, did he have a lawyer, Joseph E. Sandler, send a “cease and desist” letter to Fox News demanding that Fox hosts Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck stop referring to him as a Communist. Sandler insisted that Jones had long since ceased being a Communist and was now “firmly pro-market.”

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Sean Hannity

The Fox hosts had also called Jones a 9/11 Truther; Sandler denied this. Finally, the Fox hosts had aired a video of the Oakland event on September 12, 2001, and had noted the vile sentiments expressed by Jones and his fellow participants. How did Sandler respond to this? “Mr. Jones,” he wrote, “was one of many speakers at a small gathering in Oakland on Sept. 12th 2001 convened to express shock and horror at the atrocities committed on 9/11.” To watch the video is to recognize this as a flagrant misrepresentation of the emotions expressed at that event.

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Glenn Beck

“Mr. Jones,” Sandler went on, “does not agree with the hateful, misguided sentiments of some of the attendees featured in this clip and has never endorsed or adopted any such sentiments. His comments at the rally were for all people to eschew violence and pursue change through peaceful means.” Again, this is a lie: Jones had spoken explicitly of revolution.

“As with any political figure,” wrote Sandler, “he is often forced to share the stage with people with whom he strongly disagrees.” But nobody was forcing Jones to be on that stage. He spoke last. Any decent American would either have walked away from that event after hearing the other speakers – or would have explicitly denounced their disgusting remarks on the spot. Van Jones did neither.

The conclusion is simple: whether or not he is still a Communist in his heart, Jones was, as recently as 9/11, an avowed revolutionary who on the day after that monstrous attack on his country willingly consorted with the worst kinds of America-haters; and as of 2011, when his lawyer wrote that letter, he was still prepared to lie about it.

Van Jones, 9/11 traitor

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Van Jones

If you’ve ever watched CNN, you almost certainly know who Van Jones is. He’s a regular contributor to the network who has also served in the Obama White House, taught at Princeton, and worked at John Podesta’s Center for American Progress. Born in small-town Tennessee to a schoolteacher mother and a school principal father, he attended the University of Tennessee and Yale Law School. During the years that followed his 1993 graduation from the latter institution, he worked for, founded, or co-founded a wide range of NGOs, activist groups, grassroots organizations, advocacy projects, initiatives, social enterprises, and the like. His causes have ranged from “racial justice” to “environmental justice” to “economic justice.”

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President Trump addressing Congress

As presented on sites like Wikipedia, his career comes off as that of an admirable liberal who has spent his life crusading for the betterment of American society. On CNN, he comes off as a hardcore man of the left but also exhibits a charm and humor that take the edge off his politics. After Donald Trump’s address to Congress in March, Jones earned the ire of some of his Democratic friends and colleagues when he praised the speech and – in reference to remarks that Trump addressed to the widow of a Navy SEAL – said that Trump “became President of the United States in that moment, period.” It seemed a moment of laudable honesty that transcended ideology and partisan rancor.

But there’s more to Jones than meets the eye. Arrested in 1992 as part of a San Francisco mob protesting the acquittal of the cops who’d beaten Rodney King, he was jailed alongside Communists and anarchists. “This is what I need to be a part of,” he thought. Next thing he knew, he was a Communist. In 1994, he founded a Marxist collective called Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement, or STORM.

He was involved in STORM for a decade. Then he moved on. Soon he was in the mainstream. Was he still a Communist? Hard to say. On the one hand, he no longer publicly identified as one. On the other hand, he never explicitly renounced Communism.

On September 12, 2001, in Oakland, Jones took part in a “solidarity” gathering for “people of color”– solidarity, that is, not with the victims of 9/11, but with Arab and Muslim Americans who during the previous 24 hours had supposedly been subjected to a massive wave of bigotry and violence all over the country. (This, of course, was either a conscious lie or a fantasy.)

9-11There could hardly have been a more revolting event that day anywhere in the U.S. Instead of reviling the terrorist attacks, the speakers condemned the U.S. government for its internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, for its historic mistreatment of blacks and American Indians, and for its bombing and abuse of people in Kosovo, Palestine, Iraq, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere around the globe. The people at the World Trade Center, said one speaker, died “because of our government’s inhumane foreign policy.” Another speaker expressed “satisfaction” at the attack on the Pentagon. Jones was the last to speak. “It’s the bombs that the government has been dropping around the world that are now blowing up inside the U.S. borders,” he said. “We’ve got something stronger than bombs. We’ve got solidarity. That dream of revolutionary solidarity is stronger than bombs.”

By 2008, Jones was identifying not as a Communist radical but as an environmental activist. In an interview that year, he explained that for him, the green movement’s demand for “eco-capitalism” was just a small step on the way to eradicating all “systems of exploitation and oppression.” In other words, for Jones, as for many other environmentalists, the green movement seems to serve as a useful, popular means of fighting democratic capitalism without being burdened by the unpopular label of “Marxist” or “Communist.”

More tomorrow.