Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

January 20, 2005

CAIR’s Double Standard

Filed under: — Different River @ 11:50 am

I’m not sure if this counts as another case of syllogistic hypocrisy, but let’s see:

Daniel Pipes reports on two criminal cases on which the Council on American-Islamic Relations has taken a stand. In Case #1, they take the position that someone who sent them some nasty e-mails should be prosecuted for “threatening” them, and in Case #2 they take the position that someone who said he was going to blow up a Best Buy store should not be prosecuted, since it was a misunderstanding caused by “language barriers.”

The first criminal case concerns Dale Ehrgott, a non-Muslim insurance broker living in Reno, Nev. Appalled by CAIR’s record of apologizing for terrorism, plus the then-recent arrest on terrorism-related charges of its former employee Ismail Royer, Mr. Ehrgott dashed off four angry e-mails to CAIR in mid-2003.

One read: “We accept you [sic] holy war. Looking forward to it very much. We can deal with you easily especially since you are on our soil. You have taught us much about terrorism so get ready to be the receiver.” In another message, some weeks later, he wrote: “You are making a lot of people angry and you idiots are sitting ducks.”

“It wasn’t a threat, just a nasty email,” Mr. Ehrgott told The Associated Press. He described CAIR as “an anti-American organization” and pointed out that at no time did he physically intimidate it. CAIR saw matters differently and forwarded the notes to law enforcement agencies, which came down heavily on Mr. Ehrgott, perhaps because the Department of Justice decided to make an example of him.

The second case concerns Taiser Hosien Okashah, a Muslim food broker (and an illegal immigrant from Syria) living in Miami Beach. On June 3, 2004, Mr. Okashah threatened to destroy the Best Buy store in Plantation, Fla., because, according to the store clerk’s sworn testimony, he was displeased with a rebate offer on a laptop computer. “I am going to come back and blow up this place if I do not get my money this time,” the clerk quotes him as saying. On June 29, the authorities arrested Mr. Okashah, charged him with threatening to detonate an explosive, and briefly jailed him without bond.

The executive director of CAIR’s Florida office, Altaf Ali, leapt to Mr. Okashah’s defense. Muslims, he said, are “very concerned that a very humble member of the community, for asking a question about a rebate, can be put in jail.”

Mr. Ali attributed Mr. Okashah’s travails to a miscommunication exacerbated by the negative stereotyping of Muslims. A CAIR press release further specified that the arrest stemmed from “language barriers and overreactions by store employees and law enforcement officials.”

Now I’m not going to endorse the behavior of either of these people, but it seems to me they are on about the same level — except for the fact that in the the second case there was an actual threat of violence, and in the first case there was just someone exercising his First Amendment rights.

But Pipes points out that CAIR’s differring positions on the two cases can be justified based on traditional views of radical Islamists:

The mentality of radical Islam includes several main components, of which one is Muslim supremacism: A belief that believers alone should rule and otherwise enjoy an exalted status over non-Muslims. This outlook dominates the Islamist worldview as much in the streets of Paris as in the caves of Afghanistan.

So, I guess it’s not syllogistic hypocrisy after all. Or not any other kind of hypocrisy, either. Not that that makes it any better in my view.

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