Islamists cannot tolerate open discussion of their faith and those who act in its name. We witness this phenomenon time and again from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which increasingly forgoes combat in the arena of ideas, preferring instead to intimidate or litigate opponents of the Islamist agenda into silence.
The latest example comes in response to the Clarion Fund distributing twenty-eight million DVDs of Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West via direct mail and newspaper supplements in September. The film exposes the teachings and consequences of Islamic extremism through media footage and commentary from experts, including Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes.
CAIR has filed complaints with both the Federal Election Commission and Internal Revenue Service, alleging that the Clarion Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness of national security issues, violated its tax-exempt status by using the DVD as an election prop in swing states. In its complaint to the FEC, CAIR wrote that "analysts say the distribution of the Obsession DVD was designed to benefit a particular presidential candidate, namely Sen. John McCain."
The extent of CAIR's evidence is that some polls show McCain with an edge over Obama on security policy. Yet while the argument may be as thin as gossamer, the objective is serious: to punish an organization disseminating truths about radical Islam and to convince others that the costs of speaking out are too high.
This action must been seen in context. As outlined in a 2006 article by Daniel Pipes and Sharon Chadha, CAIR has been bullying critics of Islamism for years and has accumulated many heads in its trophy case. Prominent examples include CAIR demanding that National Review pull two books about Islam from its online store, convincing Washington's WMAL to fire radio talk show host Michael Graham for lamenting modern Islam's ties to terrorism, and successfully placing public service announcements on Fox's 24 after arguing that a plotline had presented Muslims in a negative light.
Additionally, critics of CAIR find themselves targets of the group's litigiousness. In the most infamous case, it sued Andrew Whitehead, proprietor of the Anti-CAIR website, for defamation. The parties reached an out-of-court settlement that did not result in any modification of Anti-CAIR's online claims. Whitehead's attorney has noted that CAIR pulled back because it did not want to allow opposing counsel access to its internal records — which was probably a wise move.
For a group that touts itself as a champion of civil rights and liberties, CAIR sure gets ruffled when others exercise them.