Patrick Poole, who describes himself as “an anti-terrorism consultant to law enforcement and the military” recently took up valuable column-space in HUMAN EVENTS to attempt smear all those of the Muslim faith who work for congressmen and senators and falsely accuse me of defending terrorists (“GOP Operative Defends Terrorist Turnstile,” Dec. 1).
Poole’s piece is full of inaccuracies that would have been easy to correct with any effort. Had Poole bothered to simply contact me, the House chaplain, or anyone who actually runs the services, he could have easily learned the facts.
To start with the most sensational: Poole repeatedly claims that terrorists were “leading prayers on Capitol Hill for the Congressional Muslim Staff Association (CMSA)”
As has been reported elsewhere, CMSA does not run or conduct the prayers. Period. (Why, one wonders does Poole deliberately lead with this lie.) The prayers began in 1997 when a handful of Muslim staffers, working under the direction of the House chaplain, approached then-Speaker Newt Gingrich to establish prayer services similar to the Torah and Bible studies and prayers in the House Chapel. The CMSA was formed in 2006, a full nine years after the regular prayer services began. Tough to get that one that wrong unless one was really trying.
Well more than 100 staff, Capitol Police, and visitors attend the Friday prayer services every week, and thousands have done so since 1997 under the leadership of Speakers Gingrich, Denny Hastert, Nancy Pelosi, and in a few weeks, John Boehner. The prayers are open to the public and often include friends and visitors of various faiths. Indeed, beginning with the Bush administration, the State Department regularly sends delegations visiting the United States to the prayers to showcase the free religious expression practiced in the United States, including in our nation’s Capitol.
American conservatives are and should be proud that in our country — unlike others — all people of faith are respected and free to practice their faith. That all the Abrahamic Faiths — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — worship at the Capitol is a national strength and should annoy only the most strident atheists. And it does.
Poole tries to smear all Muslims who worship at the Capitol by pointing out that of the thousands who have attended the public services over 14 years, two of the attendees, years later, were found to be traitors to America. How does he know? Well the two can be seen on a PBS Documentary which was filming prayers at the Capitol. The prayers are open to the public and even the press (even PBS). Some conspiracy. That was in 2002. One was arrested in 2007 — five years later. The other was publicly exposed in 2004. Two years later. Poole fudges the timetable . . . for obvious but less than honorable reasons.
Would Poole condemn anyone who ever attended a church or a synagogue that Timothy McVeigh, Jonathan Pollard or Bernie Madoff — years before their crimes were exposed — had attended? One hopes not. Everyone would recognize that as rank bigotry.
Poole then ludicrously attempts to associate me with the individuals in question stating “Khan has a long history of throwing out “anti-Muslim” charges against anyone critical of his terror-tied friends and associates.” Fact is, I am not friends with or associated with anyone Poole lists. And, by the way, I left the Hill In 1999. But nice try, Patrick.
Individuals who commit crimes should be punished. Terror and Treason are crimes by people — not races or religions. We are Americans. America has always risen above tribalism and ethnic and religious bigotry. Sadly, we have to struggle to overcome those (including any wannabe “anti-terrorism consultant”) who would import such un-American animosity.
There is nothing new in today’s headlines. Muslim-Americans are just the latest group of Americans subjected to fear-mongering and questions regarding loyalty. Catholics, Jews, Japanese-Americans and Mormons — all Americans — all have experienced such fear and suspicion, and especially so in the turbulent times of war. The things that are currently being said about Muslims were said about Catholics, about Jews and about Mormons.
Anti-Catholic sentiment became so bad in the 1840s and ’50s that the “Know-Nothing” and “nativist” movements of the time whipped anti-Catholic mobs to violence, the burning of Catholic businesses and the killing of innocent American Catholics. If today some warn Americans of “creeping Sharia” or “stealth jihad,” yesterday’s canard was “the Catholic menace” which threatened the nation with papal designs of domination.
And if today 20 percent of Americans believe President Obama is somehow a secret Muslim, not too long ago many believed our leaders were secretly in cahoots with a Catholic pope. Rumors swirled around Presidents Martin Van Buren and William McKinley, for example, and alleged plots to transfer the American nation to the papal control of Rome. As recently as 1950, Paul Blanshard wrote “American Freedom and Catholic Power,” in which he ominously warned of the Catholic “plan” to take over America “and the world.”
The oldest hatred, anti-Semitism, has been present since the Roman Empire, and we’ve seen anti-Semitism in America as well. Echoing today’s Manhattan Mosque controversy, New York’s early Dutch governor Peter Stuyvesant banned all synagogues in what was then known as New Amsterdam. Under British control in 1685, New York City’s Common Council denied the petition of Jewish refugees who hoped to build a synagogue, stating “public worship is tolerated . . . but to those that profess faith in Christ.”
Centuries later, American Jews were the subject of Father Charles Coughlin’s notoriously anti-Semitic radio screeds in the 1930s. During the 1940s, our government shamefully turned away Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust.
Similar suspicions were directed against Mormons, who were derided “as deluded cranks and lawless murderers, thieves and adulterers,” and were banned from preaching in New York City.
Such intolerance and fear is further exacerbated in times of war or when there is a perceived — as tenuous as it may be — connection between an indigenous minority community and a foreign enemy.
Turn-of-the-century anarchists, for example, were often accused of plotting violence in furtherance of the Catholic faith. During World War I, Teddy Roosevelt denounced “Germanized socialists” as “more mischievous than bubonic plague.” Italian-Americans were harassed and imprisoned during World War II. No one can forget President Franklin Roosevelt’s disgraceful internment of 110,000 Japanese-Americans in 1942-1945. And during the Cold War, charges of “Jewish Bolshevism” were rampant in the paranoid midst of the McCarthy-era “Red Scare.” The arrest and subsequent execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for espionage on behalf of the Soviets only served to inflame such reprehensible claims. “Islamo-Fascism” is simply plagiarism of the earlier smear “Jewish-Bolshevism.”
America is a exceptional nation. Unlike many other nations, it is not defined by race or religion or ethnicity. America is united in its commitment to individual liberty, to the Constitution and the creation and maintenance of a free people, with each individual free to choose his or her own destiny.
Those who have tried to ostracize religious and ethnic minorities in America have always failed. Over time. Conservatives of all faiths should stand in the forefront of opposing bigotry and defending the Constitution.
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