You can’t keep
a good jihadist sympathizer and Jew-hater down. Less than a month
after being (sort of) officially chided by the House of
Representatives for her repeated use of anti-Semitic tropes, freshman
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who took that whole episode not just in her
stride but as a sort of joke, went to California to give the keynote
speech at a CAIR banquet.
This is a woman
who, as Michelle Malkin noted
says Trump is not “human.” On an Arab-American talk show, she mocked a college professor who treated terrorist organizations al-Qaida and Hezbollah with gravity. She cackled at how he named them with a sternness in his voice and questioned why the words “Army” and “America” are not uttered with equal contempt.
However many news
media may continue to treat CAIR – the Council on American Islamic
Relations – as a legitimate civil-rights organization, it was an
unindicted co-conspirator in the 2007 trial of the Holy Land
Foundation, which was found guilty of financing terror. CAIR has been
tied to the Islamic Association for Palestine, a front for Hamas, and
CAIR itself is considered a terrorist organization by the United Arab
Emirates. CAIR officials have been found guilty in court of
laundering funds directed at Hamas and of training with a terrorist
group and conspiring in terrorism. CAIR played a role in promoting
the “Clock Boy” charade. After any terror attack, CAIR is quick
to try to use charges of “Islamophobia” and “racism” to
silence anyone who dares speak the truth about jihadist ideology. Yet
to acknowledge any of this is still considered inappropriate at many
of our more respected newspapers and cable news networks.
So it is that
even a Congresswoman who’s been criticized for wearing a hijab in
Congress and who’s been in hot water for her comments about Jews
can get away with addressing a CAIR confab. In fact, this is no
first: Omar spoke
at a banquet for CAIR San Francisco in December 2017. Last month, she
spoke at an event sponsored by Islamic Relief, which Sweden considers
a Muslim Brotherhood front and which the UAE considers a terrorist
any case, this time around the event
was held by CAIR’s Los Angeles chapter. It was entitled “Advancing
Justice: Empowering Valley Muslims,” and the purpose of the evening
was to present the 2019 Champion of Justice award to Jewish Voice for
Peace, a radical anti-Israel group posing as an organization for
peace-loving Jews. Omar’s co-keynoter was CAIR-Florida executive
director Hassan Shibly, who, according
to the Jerusalem Post, is
“vehemently anti-Israel” and denies that Hezbollah and Hamas are
This time, at
least, there was protest. Signs and banners read “Omar equals
hate,” “CAIR hates Jews,” and “Ilhan hates Israel.” Well,
that certainly sums it up.
Here at Useful Stooges, we call Roger
Waters “Old Reliable.” Heaven knows there are plenty of useful
stooges in show business. Some of them adore the Castro regime in
Cuba. Some hate Israel and want to see its Jewish inhabitants driven
into the sea. Some speak of burning down the White House. Some
support Antifa vandalism and the violent closing down of the free
speech of people with whom they disagree. Some blindly follow
hijab-wearing “feminist” leaders with histories of defending
Islamic gender apartheid.
Roger Waters, the 75-year-old rocker and former Pink Floyd front man, put almost all of them in the shade. He’s spoken up for Hamas, painted Iran as a victim, and served as a member of the UN’s discredited Russell Tribunal. He’s not only compared Israel to Nazi Germany but also accused it of “apartheid” and “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” and held concerts featuring a large, airborne “pig-shaped balloon adorned with Jewish symbols, including a Star of David.” He’s such a fierce enemy of Israel that he’s written accusatory open letters to other entertainers, such as Robbie Williams and Bon Jovi, trying to browbeat them into canceling gigs in Israel and telling them that, if they didn’t obey, they had the blood of children on their hands.
Last November, we reported on a new
wrinkle: Waters, it turned out, was part of a shady campaign to shake
down Chevron to the tune of billions of dollars.
Now Waters is at it again. As Marcelo
Duclos put it last month in an article
for the Panam Post, he’s “always on the same side: the
wrong one.” Namely, the side of totalitarianism. Performing last
year in Brazil, he told his audiences that Jair Bolsonaro, the
anti-Marxist who was then running for president and is now in office,
represented the “resurgence of fascism.” While he presumably
expected his fans to cheer, many of them booed.
Not that he learned a lesson from it.
On February 3, Waters took to Twitter to offer his two cents on the
current developments in Venezuela. As readers of this site well know,
most of the democratic countries of the Western Hemisphere have
supported the claim of National Assembly leader Juan Guaido to be the
legitimate president of that country; only Cuba, Nicaragua, El
Salvador, Bolivia, and three small Caribbean island nations have
stuck by the incompetent Marxist dictator Nicolas Maduro – along
with such stellar international players as Iran, Belarus, Russia,
China, Syria, and Equatorial Guinea. No points for guessing which
side Waters is on.
In his February 3 tweet, Waters told
the U.S. to “LEAVE THE VENEZUELAN PEOPLE ALONE” and claimed that
Venezuela, under Maduro, enjoys a “REAL DEMOCRACY” superior to
those of the United Kingdom and United States. He added the hashtag
#STOPTRUMPSCOUPINVENEZUELA. Duclos quoted a reply by one of Waters’s
fans: “I’m crying. My biggest musical idol has just defended the
government that ruined my country and my family, which forced me to
leave my own country to seek a better quality of life. Roger, you
have no idea what is happening in Venezuela.” This fan was not
alone in chiding Waters for his ignorance and his unconcern for
Will he listen? There is no reason to
expect him to. “Tho[ugh] his lyrics routinely decry
authoritarianism, government power, and assaults on freedom,”
Duclos pointed out, “it seems these things receive a pass from
Waters when a left-wing government is the culprit.”
On Tuesday, we saw how Peter Beinart struck out at Israel in a rather sensational 2010 article for the New York Review of Books. Two years later, he expanded his attack to book length in The Crisis of Zionism, which established him, once and for all, as a leading opponent of the Jewish state.
Where to begin with The Crisis of Zionism? Beinart celebrates then-President Barack Obama as a model liberal Zionist. In a review for Commentary, Sol Stern noted that Obama, far from being a pal of the Jewish state, had in fact “cultivated friendships with notorious haters of Israel, such as Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the former Weather Underground terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, and University of Chicago professor and one-time PLO official Rashid Khalidi.” Beinart’s other hero is the American Jewish leader Stephen Wise (1874-1949), whose notorious betrayal of the Jews of Europe, Stern observed, goes without mention in Beinart’s book. At bottom, pronounced Stern, The Crisis of Zionism “is nothing more than a bald political tract designed to advance President Obama’s agenda on the Middle East conflict”; it’s a work in which Beinart “willfully ignores just about any testimony or source that might undermine his uncomplicated narrative of good liberal Zionism versus bad reactionary Zionism.”
In a review for the Washington Post, Alana Newhouse, editor of the Jewish periodical Tablet and herself a liberal critic of Israel, described Beinart’s book as and “a political stump speech for an attractive young candidate who is seeking the job of spokesman for liberal American Jews.” Newhouse criticized his take on Palestinians (whom he depicts as “just the passive and helpless victims of Israeli sadism, with no historical agency; no politics, diplomacy or violence of their own; and no responsibility for the miserable impasse of the conflict”) as well as his dismissive view of other prominent American Jews (which, she surmised, allows Beinart to present himself as the only natural leader of Americans “who want to think of Israel as a decent place but who can’t stomach the conflict with the Palestinians and who of course don’t want anyone to think they are anti-Semites”).
Describing Beinart as “the self-appointed anguished conscience and angry scold of the Jewish state,” another reviewer, Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal, noted that a recent study had shot Beinart’s whole thesis to hell: “A whopping 82 percent of American Jews feel that U.S. support for Israel is either ‘just about right’ or ‘not supportive enough’ —and that’s just among those Jews who describe themselves as ‘liberal’ or ‘very liberal.’” As Stephens describes it, Beinart’s book is largely a mishmash of familiar anti-Israel arguments and glib belittling of the evil of Hamas and Hezbollah. “The real problem for Beinart’s argument,” Stephens writes, “is that, in word and deed, Palestinians have repeatedly furnished good reasons for the Israeli (and American) right to argue against further territorial withdrawals, at least until something fundamental changes in Palestinian political culture.” Alas, to Beinart, “no Israeli misdeed is too small that it can’t serve as an alibi for Palestinian malfeasance. And no Palestinian crime is so great that it can justify even a moment’s pause in Israel’s quest to do right by its neighbor.”
His CV could scarcely be more stellar: he studied at Yale and Cambridge; he teaches at CUNY; he’s been a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and editor of the New Republic; he writes regularly for National Journal, Haaretz, and the Atlantic website, and has contributed to Time, The New York Times, and other top-drawer publications; he’s published three books; in 2012, Foreign Policy named him one of the top 100 global thinkers.
But Peter Beinart is best known for his unusually harsh criticism of Israel. Yes, he is Jewish himself, and, according to his Wikipedia page, attends an Orthodox synagogue, keeps kosher, and sends his children to a Jewish school. But for countless readers, his name is synonymous with a degree of hostility to Israel that may be common enough in the countries surrounding Israel but that is rather unusual in an American Jew living in New York City.
Beinart first spelled out his views on Israel at length in a 2010 article for the New York Review of Books entitled “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment.” The article began with the assertion that American Jews, who at one time had been both liberal and Zionist, were breaking up into two distinct camps: “Particularly in the younger generations, fewer and fewer American Jewish liberals are Zionists; fewer and fewer American Jewish Zionists are liberal.”
In Beinart’s view, most American Jewish Zionists were now increasingly possessed of a “naked hostility to Arabs and Palestinians.” He criticized then Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman for wanting “to revoke the citizenship of Israeli Arabs who won’t swear a loyalty oath to the Jewish state.” (Is it outrageous for a country to expect its citizens to be loyal? Don’t new American citizens swear an oath?) “He said Arab Knesset members who met with representatives of Hamas should be executed.” (If cetain Knesset members consort covertly with terrorists who’ve sworn to destroy Israel, isn’t that treason?)
Part of Beinart’s message was that Israel and its defenders should lighten up. He chided them for their “obsession with victimhood.” Young Jews in the U.S., he pointed out, simply can’t relate to all that victim rhetoric. It didn’t occur to Beinart that perhaps the reason for this inability to relate lay in those young people’s historical illiteracy, their ignorance of current geopolitical realities, and/or their lack of imagination. No, to him, the takeaway was that the victim rhetoric is overblown.
“Yes, Israel faces threats from Hezbollah and Hamas,” he acknowledged. “Yes, Israelis understandably worry about a nuclear Iran.” But for young Jews growing up in pleasant, leafy places like Scarsdale, New York, or Brentwood, California, the rhetoric about Jewish victimhood “simply bears no relationship to their lived experience.” A remarkable argument: as if the cushy lives of American Jews somehow made concern about the perilous position of Israel invalid!
Another part of Beinart’s message was that Israel needs to treat Palestinians better, withdraw from the West Bank, and make more serious efforts to establish a lasting peace. In short, in a world where Israel is one of the most democratic and peaceable of countries, and where a hundred-odd nations – including most if Israel’s neighbors – regularly commit atrocities against their citizens that would give you nightmares for the rest of your life, Beinart was, in effect, joining the anti-Semites in the UN’s Human Rights Council in piling on Israel.
In a reply to Beinart’s article, Abraham H. Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League pointed out that the Israelis had, in fact, made repeated good-faith efforts to end the Palestinian conflict. At Camp David in 2000, Israel had offered to pull out of 90% of the territories and eliminate most settlements. In response, it “got a big no and suicide bombs.” In 2005 Israel “withdrew unilaterally from Gaza with the intent to do likewise in the West Bank because they saw no partner for peace.” The response that time? Rockets fired at civilian targets. Much the same happened in 2008. Repeatedly, in short, Israel’s enemies have replied to honest overtures for peace with violence. And yet Israel has kept coming back, hat in hand, trying once again to get along.
Beinart answered Foxman’s charges by doubling down on his condemnation of what he called “the growing authoritarian, even racist, tendencies in Israeli politics.” And he wasn’t done: in 2012, he expanded his indictment of the Jewish state to book length. We’ll get to The Crisis of Zionism on Thursday.
Time to revisit Roger Waters. In November 2015, we spent several days pondering the aging rocker and former Pink Floyd front man. We noted that in 2012, he defended Hamas terrorists, characterizing them as victims of Israeli “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “occupation.” In 2013, his concerts featured “a pig-shaped balloon adorned with Jewish symbols, including a Star of David.” He also compared Israelis to Nazis. “The parallels with what went on in the 1930s in Germany are so crushingly obvious,” he said of the supposed Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians.
In 2015, Salon ran an open letter by Waters to singer Robbie Williams, who was scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv. Waters informed Williams that Israelis view Palestinian children “as grass to be mowed” and instructed him that if he took the stage in Israel, he would be supporting “the deaths of over 500 Palestinian children last summer in Gaza…and condoning the arrest and abuse of hundreds of Palestinian children each year living under Israeli occupation.” Later that year, Salon published an even more virulent rant addressed to the band Bon Jovi, whose members he accused of being complicit in the murder of babies.
We were so awed by Waters’s bile that we named him one of the top ten stooges of 2015.
As we noted in our 2015 articles, Waters has been heavily criticized in some quarters for his anti-Jewish bile. Some very smart and well-informed people have tried to talk sense to him. But none of it has sunk in. He’s hung in there, sprewing his enmity. One of his most recent explosions was recounted by Liel Leibovitz in The Tablet on July 11. “[I]t takes a lot to move me, especially when it comes to the never-ending torrent of bigoted drivel produced by Israel’s shrillest detractors,” wrote Leibovitz. “But this week, Roger Waters proved he still has the stuff, producing a masterpiece of hate that deserves a moment of consideration.”
Leibovitz went on to explain that at a performance in London’s Hyde Park, Waters had displayed “political slogans on the Jumbotrons.” They were inane: “Resist the Military Industrial Complex!” “Resist Rattling Your Sabre at Iran.” And so on. But the most absurd was this: “Resist Israeli anti-Semitism.” Meaning what? Meaning, apparently, that in the mind of Roger Waters, as Leibovitz put it, “the world’s only Jewish state is guilty of Jew-hatred.” Commented Leibovitz: “It’s not only an idiotic statement, but an astonishingly pernicious one as well. It begins with Waters appointing himself the arbiter of what passes for anti-Jewish persecution….And it continues with the rock star searching for evidence of anti-Jewish bigotry and finding it in the only place in the world where Jews are fully responsible for their own collective destiny.”
Waters might or might not know this, but as Leibovitz pointed out,
Blaming the Jews for their own misfortune…isn’t a new trick. It’s been a seminal feature of anti-Semitic rhetoric for millennia, and it served well squadrons of hissing haters who argued that if so many people want to exterminate the Jews, well, it must be for some good reason. But the modern incarnation of this ancient hatred is particularly grotesque: Speaking the hollowed-out language of the regressive left, Waters not only blames the Jews for their own troubles, but does so while claiming to be a champion of human rights. He’s telling his fans that it’s very important to take anti-Semitism seriously, and then adding that the only way to do it is to target the Jews.
Three cheers to Leibovitz and The Tablet for calling Waters out. But why isn’t there more rage at his bigotry? Why does he still have a career? “In an age when entertainers can lose their livelihood for one gauche tweet,” Leibovitz mused, “you can only wonder why no one seems too eager to censor this singing anti-Semite.”
On Tuesday we began covering the activist career of actress Susan Sarandon, who seems never to have met a murderer she didn’t love. One such figure, as we have seen, is Mumia Abu-Jamal, a cop-killer who, thanks to the efforts of Sarandon and others, became a worldwide cause celebre. Protests were held all over the planet. The city of Paris made Mumia an honorary citizen. Meanwhile, Maureen Faulkner, whose husband had been killed by Mumia, and had already had to live once through his trial, had to climb back on that horse – this time in an attempt to keep the killer in prison.
She had no stars on her side. She did it alone. In 1999, a journalist who’d interviewed Mumia years earlier let slip that Mumia, during their conversation, had actually admitted to murdering Faulkner’s husband – a fact that there had not, in any case, been any serious reason to doubt in the first place. Yet so committed were Sarandon and others to Mumia’s cause that this revelation did nothing to shake their faith in their hero. So it was that thanks to the puerile activism of Sarandon and company, Maureen Faulkner’s life was turned upside down not once but twice.
That wasn’t the last example of Sarandon’s soft spot for thugs. As a member of Actors and Artists United for the Freedom of the Cuban Five, she fought for the release from a U.S. prison of five spies for the Castro regime. Her confederates on that occasion included Ed Asner, Danny Glover, Elliott Gould, Pete Seeger, Martin Sheen, and Oliver Stone.
Now 72, she’s still at it. On June 28, she was one of 575 activists arrested in Washington, D.C., while protesting outside the Hart Senate Office Building against the Trump Administration’s detention of illegal aliens and reinforcement of the Mexican border. “What do we want? Free families!” they chanted. Some carried signs bearing the hashtag #FamiliesBelongTogether, a reference to the practice of temporarily separating adults caught entering the country illegally from the children they bring with them – a practice that is blamed by the far left on Donald Trump, even though it predates his presidency, and that, in fact, often ends up rescuing children from adults who, though pretending to be their parents, are in fact trafficking them into the U.S. for nefarious reasons.
A picture taken at this protest, by the way, shows Sarandon seemingly joined at the hip with fellow “feminist” Linda Sarsour – a woman who is always wearing hijab, who doesn’t hide her enthusiasm for sharia, who is a vocal supporter of the BDS movement against Israel, who said that her “Arab pride was hurt” when the child-murdering Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. forces, who solicited contributions for Hamas-linked “charities,” who charged that al-Qaeda’s 2009 “underwear bomber” was actually a CIA operative, and who won an “American Muslim of the Year” award from terrorist-tied CAIR (whose executive director, Nihad Awad, she affectionately called “Uncle Nihad”).
This is the company Sarandon keeps. The fact that she seeks out this kind of ally, combined with her execrable record of standing up for the likes of Jack Henry Abbott, Mumia Abu-Jabal, and Castro’s spies, should be enough to discredit her in the eyes of any sensible observer, no matter whether that observer identifies with the left or the right. But memories are short, and all too many people who consider themselves liberals or leftists continue to view this foolish old woman as a voice of conscience.
Rob Reiner is one lucky fellow. First, he was born into the highest rung of showbiz – the son of the brilliant director, writer, and actor Carl Reiner, the man behind the classic Dick Van Dyke Show plus a whole bunch of very funny movies. Second, Rob’s family connections got him into acting – and his first big acting job, as it happened, turned out to be in the seminal sitcom of its time, All in the Family.
All in the Family‘s success owed nothing to Rob: playing Mike Stivic, the son-in-law of the show’s protagonist, Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor), and Archie’s wife, Edith (Jean Stapleton), Reiner was, in terms of acting chops, the weakest link on the show. Mike was also the series’ most insufferable character. While producer Norman Lear, a card-carrying leftist, had meant for Archie, a working stiff who labored on a factory loading dock, to be an anti-hero – a typical hippie-hating “hardhat” of the early 1970s – Archie was, for millions, a lovable hero.
Meanwhile Mike, a social-sciences student into whose dialogue Lear shoved many of his own political opinions, was insufferable: although he shared a bedroom in Archie’s house in Queens because he couldn’t afford to support his wife – Archie’s daughter, Gloria (Sally Struthers) – Mike plainly considered himself to be Archie’s intellectual and moral superior of Archie. For Archie, his son-in-law wasn’t “Mike” but “Meathead,” a mindless mouthpiece for an ideology that Archie considered pernicious.
After All in the Family, Rob Reiner moved on to directing. His oeuvre contains some of the most entertaining movies of the eighties and nineties: This Is Spinal Tap, Stand by Me, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, Misery, A Few Good Men. His more recent product has been less memorable. In any event, what all of his best films have in common is that he didn’t write them. (The one exception is This Is Spinal Tap, on which he shared screenplay credit with funnymen Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer.)
His old man, Carl Reiner, is a writer-director, and is terrific at both; Rob is good at figuring out where to put a camera, but his efforts at writing have been disastrous. We still remember, for example, the horror show that was the 1978 TV movie More than Friends, a fourth-rate Annie Hall ripoff that he co-wrote and in which he starred with his then wife, Penny Marshall.
Anyway, the reason we’re looking at Rob Reiner is that over the last quarter century or so, even as his directorial career has faltered, he’s become increasingly visible as an exceedingly shrill, far-left political activist and major megaphone for Democratic Party talking points. He was a prominent supporter of the presidential candidacies of Howard Dean, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama. A few years ago, when the Tea Party movement was at its height, he likened it to Hamas.
Critics have often pointed out his extreme hypocrisy: a resident of Malibu, one of the whitest, richest, and most exclusive municipalities in America, where he lives behind high walls and gates, Reiner has supported open borders and was among the Malibu residents who decided to declare it a sanctuary city – a decision that was, in practice, given the cost of property in the town and the high level of private and public security there, a thoroughly meaningless exercise in virtue signaling. Indeed, pretty much the only illegal aliens who ever set foot in the seaside enclave are the rich locals’ cooks, maids, gardeners, nannies, and chauffeurs.
But it was the entry of Donald Trump into politics that really sent Reiner into activist overdrive. Ever since Trump began running for the Presidency, Reiner has been shouting from the rooftops that a “constitutional crisis” was in the offing. In a tweet written last December, he urged his fellow citizens to “prepare to take the streets” in response to Fox News’s criticism of the Robert Mueller probe into claims of Russian collusion by the 2016 Trump campaign.
Speaking at a Women’s March in Los Angeles on January 20, Reiner noted that Trump had been in office for a year and had “corroborated every one of our fears….And we cannot whitewash this anymore. We have a racist in the White House. We have a sexist in the White House. We have a pathological liar in the White House. And he is tearing away at the fabric of our democracy.”
In mid February, when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced that the Russia investigation had concluded that no Americans had “knowingly cooperated with the Russian interference” and that the Russians had “in no way impacted the outcome of the 2016 election,” Reiner, instead of throwing in the towel and admitting he had been hysterical over nothing, chose to take an Orwellian approach to the truth, tweeting as follows: “It is now crystal clear that Russia had a profound impact on the 2016 election. They have attacked US, they are continuing to attack US. If Trump is unwilling to acknowledge this and unwilling to protect US, the word TREASON is now center stage.”
We need not comment on this shameless effort at disinformation, because Reiner’s Twitter feed soon filled up with apropos reactions. “Did you even WATCH the actual press conference?” wrote one of Reiner’s followers. “No impact on the election.” Several people commented that if there were any White House treason, it was committed not by Trump but by Obama, since the Russian meddling had, according to the Justice Department, begun in 2014.
One Reiner follower summed it up all this way: “Once a meathead, always a meathead.”
On Tuesday, we met Keith Ellison, the first Muslim in the U.S. Congress – who, among much else, has defended Louis Farrakhan, likened George W. Bush to Hitler, and compared Trump unfavorably with Kim Jong-un. As we’ve seen, Ellison, who represents Minneapolis and environs, has been quite chummy with the terrorist-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations: he’s spoken at CAIR events, and CAIR leaders have spoken at Ellison fundraisers.
But CAIR isn’t the only dicey Muslim group with which he has cozy connections. He’s addressed at least three conventions of the Hamas-linked Islamic Society of North America. In 2007 and again in 2008, he was the keynote speaker at conventions of the Muslim American Society (MAS), appearing on the second occasion with an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. MAS, which has been linked to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Al-Qaeda, and which the United Arab Emirates has designated as a terrorist group, has called for jihadist violence and the murder of Jews, and, in its official magazine, routinely refers to suicide bombers as martyrs and to terrorists as freedom fighters. In 2016, under pressure, Ellison withdrew as speaker from a MAS event.
As we made clear on Tuesday, Ellison’s radical record was no mystery when Minneapolis voters sent him to Congress in 2006. It is hard to know what to make of the fact that they’ve sent him back five times since then, during a decade when his ties to pro-jihad groups and his hostility to Israel have been repeatedly on display. Less difficult to explain is why his fellows Democrats chose him – by unanimous acclamation – as the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee: he represents the party’s “progressive” wing, and these days, in that party, “progressive” includes everything from socialists-bordering-on-Communists to Muslims (and friends of Islam) whose public criticisms of jihadist terrorism sound painfully tame and pro forma.
The latest cause for widespread concern about Ellison was a tweet he sent out on January 3. It read: “@MoonPalaceBooks and I just found the book that strike [sic] fear in the heart of @realDonaldTrump.” Accompanying the text was a photo of Ellison holding a volume entitled Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook by Mark Bray. Antifa, of course, is the umbrella term for a number of groups that, during the last couple of years, have joined together in violent protests against conservative, libertarian, and other non-leftist speakers at various U.S. college campuses. As the Daily Caller noted, “While the group [Antifa] claims to be anti-Fascist, they routinely shut down the speech of people they disagree with.”The Washington Times described Bray’s book as “a history of anti-fascism movements and guide to aspiring radicals.” Some reports have maintained that the book is nothing more than an objective account of its topic (Newsweek called it “politically neutral”), but this claim is nonsense: as an Associated Press report indicated, Bray “calls violence during counter-protests ‘a small though vital sliver of anti-fascist activity.’” Bray also maintains that certain ideas are undeserving of First Amendment protection.
In response to Ellison’s tweet, Alex Griswold of the Washington Free Beacon tweeted: “Um, the deputy chair of the DNC is endorsing a book that advocates for violence in the streets.” The Young America’s Foundation (YAF) chastised Ellison for his tweet, calling it an “inexplicable embrace of violent Antifa tactics.” YAF, which has been involved in arranging many of the campus speaking events that Antifa has sought to disrupt, commented: “No one knows the dangers posed by Antifa better than the conservative college students YAF works with around the country who have been threatened, stalked, and at times attacked by the radical leftists who make up its ranks. Most notably, Antifa thugs attempted to shut down YAF’s campus lecture with Ben Shapiro at the University of California, Berkeley.”
Even House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has vilified Antifa, saying last August: “You’re not talking about the far left of the Democratic Party – they’re not even Democrats. A lot of them are socialists or anarchists or whatever.” But Ellison isn’t the only high-profile establishment figure to signal his fondness for Antifa, and after his tweet went public – and garnered criticism – some mainstream publications dismissed the furor as a far-right tempest in a teapot. “The anger toward Ellison is increasingly a fringe movement,” Newsweek insisted, the implication being that any hostility directed at him is by definition racist and Islamophobic.
Forget Bernie Sanders (who, after all, isn’t really a Democrat anyway). Keith Ellison is the face of today’s far-left, identity politics-obsessed Democrat Party. He was the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress, in 2006. (But he’s already not the last: two years after his election, Hoosiers sent André Carson to Washington.)
Raised Catholic, Ellison became a Muslim at 19. In law school, he wrote a series of articles in which he sought to defend Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and his flunky Khalid Abdul Muhammed (a Holocaust denier who had called Jews “hook-nosed, bagel-eatin’, lox-eatin’ impostors”) against frankly indisputable charges of being anti-white and anti-Semitic.
Ellison, who originally ran for office under the name Keith Ellison-Muhammed, spent four years in the Minnesota legislature before running in 2006 for the U.S. Congress. During the 2006 campaign, his opponents brought up his failure to pay income taxes for several years in the 1990s. (As a result, the IRS had put liens on his home.) He’d also failed to pay parking tickets and fines, causing his driver’s license to be suspended repeatedly. You might consider these actions to be a sign of – at the very least – a lack of civic responsibility, and you might think that civic responsibility would be the first requirement for a member of Congress. But never mind.
Opponents also brought up his longtime association with Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. In response, Ellison readily denounced both the organization and its leader. You might wonder how sincere his denunciation was. You also might wonder how principled a man is when he’s willing to kick to the curb, prontissimo, a man who, however execrable, was apparently one of his heroes. But never mind.
Curiously, even as he distanced himself from the Nation of Islam, Ellison accepted support from the equally reprehensible, terrorist-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations, whose then executive director, Nihad Awad, spoke at one of his fundraisers. Ellison also spoke numerous times at CAIR events, while Awad and at least one other CAIR official also personally contributed to the Ellison campaign. Ellison’s Republican challenger criticized him for taking terrorist-tainted money. (Awad, a former official of the Islamic Association of Palestine, a group drenched in the blood of terrorist victims, had also donated to Hamas.) You might think all of this would have given voters pause. But never mind. In the end, none of it mattered. Ellison was elected to Congress, where he has since represented all of Minneapolis and parts of two adjacent counties.
He was the first member of Congress to take his oath on a Koran. But the controversies didn’t end there. In a 2007 speech, he suggested that the U.S. was a “totalitarian” power, compared George W. Bush to Hitler, and implied that 9/11 had been engineered by the Bush White House. Ellison later walked back those statements, acknowledging that Osama bin Laden, not Bush, was in fact behind 9/11.
In 2007, in violation of administration policy, Ellison and other members of Congress visited Syria, a designated state sponsor of terrorism. In Saudi Arabia, Ellison waxed poetic over the experience of being in the same country as Mecca and Medina. In 2008, he expressed support for Sami al-Arian, who had been dismissed from the faculty of the University of South Florida for aiding the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. In 2010, Ellison decried supposed Israeli influence over U.S. foreign policy, finally sparking criticism by the Anti-Defamation League, which had previously bent over backwards to avoid chiding him.
While frequently excoriating Israel for defending itself against terrorist attacks, Ellison has had good things to say about Iran – and even North Korea. Speaking on a panel last August, he said that while “the world always thought” Kim Jong-un “was not a responsible leader,” the dictator was in fact “acting more responsible [sic] than this guy is” – “this guy” being the President of the United States, Donald Trump. Ellison had to walk back that statement, too.
In November 2016, Ellison was the “progressive” choice for chair of the Democratic National Committee. When Tom Perez beat him, Perez asked that Ellison be chosen to serve as his Deputy Chair; Ellison won by a unanimous voice vote. His ascent to this party position clinched his role as the most powerful and prominent Muslim in the U.S. But, as we’ll see on Thursday, it certainly didn’t persuade him to take a less radical line in his politics.
Linda Sarsour shot to fame on January 21 of this year, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration as president. On that day, feminists marched down the major thoroughfares of several American cities; in Washington, at the main Women’s March, stars of film and TV and music and cable news and professional feminism (Gloria Steinem) took turns giving speeches. Madonna spoke of burning down the White House. Ashley Judd read a poem about being a “nasty woman.”
Joining these superstars on the list of speakers was an obscure woman in hijab. Linda Sarsour, head of the Arab American Association of New York, was one of the event’s organizers, and she used her moment in the sun to say that she would “respect the presidency,” but not Trump himself. She said that Trump had been elected “on the backs of Muslims.” And she said that American Muslims had been “suffering in silence for the past fifteen years.” She didn’t mention the suffering of the many non-Muslim Americans – and non-Muslims elsewhere around the world – who had experienced suffering as a result of suicide bombings, planes being piloted into buildings, gunmen opening fire at concerts and discos, and truck drivers mowing down pedestrians.
Sarsour was cheered. A star was born. Rachel Maddow had her on. Sarsour made outrageous claims about the supposed oppression of Muslims in the U.S., and Maddow didn’t question a thing she said. Nor did Maddow ask Sarsour how a woman who supports sharia law and openly praises Hamas, as Sarsour does, could call herself a progressive feminist.
There are real feminists with Arab or Muslim backgrounds. Among them are Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Brigitte Gabriel. Sarsour has smeared both of them. She has said that they deserve as “ass-whipping.” It is well known that Hirsi Ali, as as girl, was subjected to the brutal practice known as female genital mutilation. This didn’t keep Sarsour from saying that she wished she could take away Hirsi Ali’s and Gabriel’s vaginas because “they don’t deserve to be women.”
Sarsour is not just a woman of words. She is a woman of action. When Brandeis University announced plans to award Hirsi Ali an honorary degree, Sarsour participated in a successful effort to get Brandeis to change its mind.
We wrote about all this in April. We devoted two days to Sarsour. We hoped that perhaps her fifteen minutes of fame would soon be over. Alas, no. Sarsour ended up being named to Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” list. Earlier this month, Glamour Magazine included her and the other Women’s March organizers on its list of women of the year. Publications around the country, ignoring Sarsour’s own ugly views, have portrayed her as the virtuous victim of irrational Islamophobic hatred.
In late October, Sarsour tweeted a photo of her new Democratic Socialists of America membership card. A few days later, after the Halloween terror attack in lower Manhattan, she was heavily quoted in an AOL News story headlined “Muslim New Yorkers Are Bracing for Hate Crimes after Terror Attack” – one of those absurd “backlash” articles that always follow jihadist attacks and that seek to distract attention from the real victims of actual Muslim atrocities to imaginary Muslim victims of non-existent infidel atrocities.
After the Halloween massacre, Sarsour complained on Twitter that such events are always being used to paint all Muslims with a broad brush. As it turned out, she had more than a passing connection to the jihadist of the day, Saypullo Saipov. As was discovered soon after his arrest, Saipov had attended a mosque in Paterson, New Jersey, that the NYPD’s Demographics Unit, under Mayor Bloomberg, had monitored closely. But the current mayor, Bill de Blasio, who is less worried about terrorism than about “Islamophobia,” listened to a certain individual who told him that monitoring mosques was an anti-Islamic act, and closed down the Demographics Unit. Who was that individual who got the mayor to stop the monitoring of mosques? Linda Sarsour. If not for her, in short, the New York police might have fingered Saipov as a potential terrorist and prevented eight deaths.