When the White House promotes anti-Muslim bigots

Posted: May 22, 2003

IMMEDIATELY after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, the Bush administration said all the right things about Muslims and Arab-Americans.

President Bush visited a mosque in Washington and met with Muslim leaders. He also declared, on national TV, that Muslims and Arab-Americans were not behind the 9/11 terror (which they weren't) and that it was un-American to blame them.

But his positive words have been followed by bad deeds. A litany of anti-Arab and Muslim actions, including numerous ramifications of the Patriot Act, "voluntary" interviews and special immigration registration would be a vast list. Two recent actions dramatically illustrate insensitivity or, worse, real anti-Muslim and Arab bias in the White House.

Rev. Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, has called Islam a "wicked and violent religion." Extremist language like this should be criticized. But this friend of George W. Bush is rewarded with an invitation to the Pentagon to give the Good Friday homily.

Louis Farrakhan was rightly criticized after calling Judaism a "gutter religion" and one can only imagine the uproar if any administration invited him to give a sermon. Yet Franklin and other right-wing ministers, including Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, have engaged in bigoted tirades against Islam and Muslims.

Rather than being condemned, they are rewarded with access to the White House, Pentagon and even the suffering civilians of Iraq, (Graham's humanitarian organization, Samaritan's Purse, will lead an anti-Muslim evangelizing aid effort in Iraq with administration blessing).

If this weren't offensive enough, the administration has nominated Daniel Pipes to the U.S. Institute of Peace, an independent, nonpartisan federal institution created by Congress to promote the prevention, management and peaceful resolution of international conflicts.

Pipes is the founder and director of the Middle East Forum, a neo-conservative think tank that promotes Israel and low oil prices. There is no one who has demonized Islam and Arabs more in the United States than Pipes.

In 1990, he said: "Western European societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene . . . All immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most."

Pipes doesn't even believe in the premise of conflict resolution, one of the chief missions of the peace institute. As he recently explained, conflict resolution only comes "when one side gives up its goals," noting that is almost always the result of utter defeat.

Daniel Pipes also has a problem with academic freedom. He created Campus Watch, a Web site that encourages college students to report professors who do not advocate a pro-Israel agenda, an echo of McCarthyism. In effect, Daniel Pipes is an eloquent racist with a Ph.D.

While I believe in the protection of First Amendment speech no matter how hideous it may be, that does not mean that individuals who spew bigoted vitriol have to be nominated to government posts, invited into the People's House or given access to the fighting men and women of America.

Our country's greatness is based on tolerance and respect for differences. Just as anti-Semites are ostracized and denounced, so should anti-Muslims like Franklin Graham and Daniel Pipes.

America is not about hatred and bigotry, and the president should use the same yardstick for all religions.

Giving Pipes legitimacy for his racist and bigoted views by nominating him to the U.S. Institute for Peace and giving Graham a forum to preach his hate should be opposed by the president and by every American who cherishes diversity and tolerance. *

Marwan Kreidie is executive director of the Arab-American Development Corp. and teaches political science at Immaculata University.

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