Smears of American presidential candidates have a venerable history.
In the “Daisy Girl” television spot, a mushroom cloud obliterated a child as a warning that Senator Barry Goldwater’s finger on the nuclear trigger spelled doomsday. Four years ago, Vice President Joe Biden told a mostly black audience in New Jersey that Republicans wanted to “put you back in chains.” During the current campaign, Hillary R. Clinton and her media echo chamber have flogged remarks by former Klansman David Duke and an American Nazi Party chief to accuse Donald J. Trump of sharing the racist doctrines.
Clinton went full-Holocaust last year, when she speculated that Trump would “round up” illegals and ship them off in “boxcars.” That there is nothing in Trump’s long public record suggesting that any of this is true hasn’t prevented the media from retailing the smears — not only against the candidate but also against his prospective voters. Oddly enough, the evidence at hand suggests that racism isn’t much of a selling point in United States politics. The American Nazi Party numbers perhaps a few dozen, and the remains of the various Klans are rump groups incapable of mustering sufficient numbers for a rally, according to a 2015 study by the Anti-Defamation League (for which this writer used to work). Hate groups on the right have negligible numbers, negligible funds, and, most important, negligible political influence.
The Clinton campaign has also leveled charges of “Islamophobia” at Trump. It’s a neat pivot that not only smears Trump but also deflects attention from the substantial problems with radical Islam and the Democratic party.
Far from skulking at the margins, front men for the Muslim Brotherhood have expanded their political influence under the current administration. The leaders of a veritable alphabet soup of Islamic groups have met scores of times with White House officials and attended receptions hosted by President Obama. The scion of a Brotherhood elder statesman has been appointed to a White House post. Others with a history of ties to Islamist front groups and their allies have also enjoyed government appointments. In September, the head of Homeland Security addressed the national convention of the largest such group, Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).
All this has occurred despite evidence and findings flowing from the 2007-2009 Holy Land Fund terror-financing case that described links among many U.S. Islamist groups and the terrorist front that shipped more than $12 million to Hamas.
In 2009, Federal Judge Jorge A. Solis found “ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR, ISNA and NAIT [North American Islamic Trust] with [the Holy Land Fund] HLF, the Islamic Association for Palestine, and with Hamas.” He also cited government exhibits pointing to ISNA as an “‘apparatus‘ of the [Muslim] Brotherhood.” These findings were contained in a ruling in which Solis refused to strike the groups’ names from the court record.
Let’s start with the Muslim Brotherhood. That the Brotherhood’s intentions aren’t benign is evident. Internal documents entered in the case declare: “The Ikhwan [Brotherhood’s]…work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”
Yet the Brotherhood has not so much infiltrated our government, as been welcomed and legitimized in the dominant political culture by President Obama’s and then-Secretary of State Clinton’s domestic and international policies. It has shielded itself from scrutiny by wielding the “Islamophobia” slur in an effort to shut down free inquiry and debate.
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), mentioned in Judge Solis’s findings, leads the campaign. Before he co-founded CAIR, Nihad Awad — who remains the group’s executive director — worked for the Islamic Association of Palestine, Hamas’s American propaganda arm. To CAIR’s fury, in 2009 evidence of its intimate links to Hamas prompted the FBI to halt “community engagement” meetings with CAIR.
Despite the FBI’s hands-off policy, Obama administration officials quickly brought CAIR and allied groups in from the cold. More than a score of current and former officials of CAIR, the Islamic Society of North America, the International Institute of Islamic Thought, and allies, including the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), have met with Obama White House officials dozens of times. Some met with officials as senior as Quintan Wiktorowicz, a member of President Obama’s National Security Council.
This is the CAIR whose Executive Director declares Israel “the biggest threat to world peace and security.” And the CAIR whose New York board member, Lamis Deek called for freeing the “Holy Land [Fund] Five,” describes Israel as the “genocidal Zionist regime,” and declares that “‘Israel’ won’t last.” This is moderation that buys White House entre?
This September, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson addressed ISNA’s annual conclave. According to Judge Solis’s opinion, ISNA’s bank account was used to transfer hundreds of thousands of dollars to Hamas. The judge found that “ISNA checks . . . were often made payable to ‘the Palestinian Mujahadeen,’ the original name for the Hamas military wing.”
An accident on Homeland Security’s part or an expression of policy?
In May 2016, Zaki Barzinji landed a job with the Obama Office of Public Liaison. He had been deputy director of Intergovernmental Affairs for Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. Besides being the grandson of a Brotherhood kingpin, Barzinji also has his own Islamist credentials, as past president of the ISNA subsidiary, Muslim Youth of North America. Other appointments have put people with ties to Islamist groups, some thin some substantial, on a Homeland Security Advisory Council and on delegations representing the United States at international organizations.
CAIR and its Islamist and leftist allies routinely smear their critics as “Islamophobes.” CAIR reserves its strongest vitriol for Muslim liberals and ex-Muslims. Ayaan Hirsi Ai, the Somali-born author, scholar, and campaigner for women’s rights, is “one of the worst of the worst of Islam haters in America, not only in America but worldwide,” says Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR’s communications director. Hirsi Ali, at the Belfer Center at Harvard, has called for a “reformation” of Islam.
Curiously for Democrats who want to wear the mantle of liberalism, it is precisely liberals such as Hirsi Ali who have been marginalized by the administration’s canoodling with the most anti-liberal Islamic elements in the U.S. The moderates and rationalists are disinvited from the public discourse shaped by Hamas frontmen, and the smears — as we can see from CAIR — aren’t targeted only at Republicans.
Is there any reason to expect a Clinton administration to depart from this pattern? As Secretary of State Clinton chaired the founding meeting of the so-called Istanbul Process, in which the U.S. has joined with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which has pushed for global curtailment of speech that might constitute “denigration” of Islam. You could almost think that Qatar didn’t need to drop an unreported million on Clinton’s family foundation.