A READER ON THE CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS PRIMARILY BETWEEN THE MUSLIM WORLD AND THE JUDEO-CHRISTIAN WEST, BUT ALSO THE HINDU, THE CONFUCIAN, THE BUDDHIST AND A MYRIAD OF OTHER FAITHS AND DENOMINATIONS WHO SUFFER AT MUSLIM HANDS.
M. Zuhdi Jasser is a physician, a Navy veteran, an American patriot and a Muslim who does not hold with those who preach that Islam commands its followers to take part in a war against unbelievers.
"The Third Jihad: Radical Islam's Vision for America," a documentary film Jasser narrated, takes a hard look at those Muslims who are waging this war -- both with bombs and by stealthier means. The film had been among the educational materials used to train New York City police officers. Then, last month, The New York Times went on what one might call a crusade against the movie, publishing a series of articles branding it a "hate-filled film about Muslims," suggesting it was scandalous for the New York Police Department to have screened it, and calling on Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly to "apologize for the film ... and make clear that his department does not tolerate such noxious and dangerous stereotyping."
In the first of its stories, the Times charged that the film "casts a broad shadow over American Muslims." That ignores the unambiguous statement with which the documentary opens: "This is not a film about Islam. It is about the threat of radical Islam. Only a small percentage of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims are radical."
The story quotes Jasser as saying in the film: "This is the true agenda of Islam in America." What Jasser actually said in the film is that jihad is "the true agenda of much of the Muslim leadership here in America."
Jasser has long argued -- and he is not alone in this -- that the leaders of some of the most powerful organizations claiming to represent American Muslims are not as moderate as they would have you believe. Prominent among such organizations is CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, apparently the driving force behind the Times coverage.
The Times chooses not to inform its readers that CAIR was an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism-financing trial in the U.S. to date, the 2007 U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation, et al. The Times also neglects to report that the FBI has broken all ties with CAIR.
The paper never bothered to interview Jasser. Nor did the Times quote Robert Jackson, the only Muslim on the New York City Council, who told other reporters that while he "initially thought from reading about (the film) that it cast a negative image on all Muslims ... it does not. It focuses on the extreme Muslims that are trying to hurt other people." The Times turned down an op-ed by former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge and former CIA Director Jim Woolsey defending the documentary.
The Times' stories present not a single factual error. However, illustrating the first story was an image of the White House with a black Islamic flag flying above it. The Times called that "a doctored photograph," leaving readers to infer that the filmmakers had done the doctoring. In fact, that image was found on a jihadist website. (Such images are common on such sites, as any reporter working the terrorism beat should know.)
CAIR calls itself a Muslim "civil rights" organization and most of the major media take it at its word. Jasser has pointed out that one of its main missions is to silence critics, to deprive them of the right to free speech. One of the ways this is done, Jasser says, is by making it appear that Muslim reformers are themselves extremists: "That is what the vicious distortions about this film do to my work and the work of so many others within the House of Islam who are trying to publicly take on the American Islamist establishment."
Jasser adds: "Were Americans ever to finally become educated to the slippery slope between nonviolent Islamism (political Islam) and Islamist militancy, the legitimacy of these Muslim Brotherhood-legacy groups would evaporate."
The barriers to providing such education are growing. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has denounced "The Third Jihad." The NYPD has stopped showing it. CAIR is not satisfied. The organization has demanded that Kelly resign and that the police department "offer a concrete plan to help counter the misinformation about Islam and Muslims provided to almost 1,500 officers through the screening of 'The Third Jihad.'"
This week, I happened to be in New York's Penn Station, where I heard an announcement on the public address system: "If you see something, say something." Zuhdi Jasser has seen something. CAIR wants him to shut up about it. And CAIR has friends in high places.
(Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, an institute focusing on national security and foreign policy. Email May at cliff(at)defenddemocracy.org.)