On March 3 the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) introduced North Carolina State Senator Larry Shaw as the group's new chairman. A week later the Fayetteville Observer, a leading newspaper in Shaw's district, published a shameless, unsigned editorial whitewashing CAIR's radicalism and demonizing the "McCarthyite tone" of those who dare point it out:
Critics of State Sen. Larry Shaw's affiliation with the Council on American-Islamic Relations need to back off, at least long enough to ask themselves two questions:
1. Do I have any incriminating evidence against this organization, or am I just spreading bigotry, prejudice, gossip, and Internet conjecture?
2. How would I feel about having my own religious and political associations judged by the kinds of standards I'm applying to CAIR?
The first answer is simple: yes, we do. So is the second: quite comfortable, thanks.
From CAIR's troubling origins to its Islamist agenda, there is enough "incriminating evidence" to fill a ten-part dossier assembled by the Investigative Project (IPT) in 2008. The Observer mentions none of this, however, stating only that IPT founder Steven Emerson's "conditions" for accepting CAIR seem to "include breaking the annoying habit of defending itself against his attacks." The editors then go after U.S. Congresswoman Sue Myrick, signer of January's "Beware of CAIR" letter. "It's not clear that she had any reasons of her own" for speaking out, the paper opines, suggesting that she is under the spell of Emerson's fervid imaginings.
More able editors would have acknowledged the numerous red flags raised by federal law enforcement: CAIR was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the terrorism financing trial of the Holy Land Foundation, which ended in guilty verdicts on all 108 counts last November. During the trial FBI agent Lara Burns testified that CAIR is a front group for Islamists linked to Hamas. Recently the FBI cut off contact with CAIR due to these concerns.
Furthermore, senators from Shaw's own Democratic Party are among CAIR's harshest critics: Charles Schumer (NY) calls CAIR an organization "which we know has ties to terrorism." Dick Durbin (IL) notes that it is "unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its associations with groups that are suspect." Barbara Boxer (CA) even rescinded an award given to a local CAIR leader.
In the pièce de résistance, the Observer mocks the notion that CAIR is "Hamas' kinder, gentler face": If so, "it's been too surreptitious by half. Hamas' message of hate could have been delivered more clearly and more forcefully by almost anyone who tried." Not only does this feeble argument neglect the radical statements that senior CAIR officials have let slip on occasion, but it betrays a shocking ignorance of the purpose and tactics of stealth jihad.
With the Fayetteville Observer writing editorials like this, does CAIR still need a PR staff?