If anti-Muslim hate crimes do not exist, they must be invented. They’re simply too politically useful to do without. And so it is that the Minnesota chapter of the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) held a press conference Monday to demand the firing of a Starbucks barista who was so “Islamophobic” as to write “ISIS” on a Muslim woman’s coffee cup. CAIR also announced that it had filed a discrimination complaint with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights about the incident. If you think that the world is on fire and that CAIR should find more important things to be enraged about, you’re right, but there is a method to CAIR’s obsession with triviality, albeit a sinister one.
According to Sahan Journal, the hate crime took place last Wednesday, when a hijab-wearing Muslim woman went into the Starbucks that is inside the Midway Target in St. Paul, Minn., and ordered a drink. She told the barista her name, and the barista wrote it on a cup.
So far so good. But “Islamophobia” broke out when the customer received her drink and found that the barista had written “ISIS” on the cup.
The woman’s name? Aishah.
Anyone who has ever been in a Starbucks anywhere knows how easy it would be for a barista, without any malice whatsoever, to mix up two words that sound as similar to each other as “ISIS,” “eye-sis,” and “Aishah,” “eye-shah.” Anyone who has ever been in a Starbucks also knows that many baristas are not exactly intellectual giants, and for many, English is not their first language. Mistakes on names abound at Starbucks outlets all over the country, and most people shrug or laugh them off.
But not Aishah. “When I first received the drink I was in shock,” she said at CAIR’s press conference Monday. “I felt humiliated, I felt enraged, I felt belittled.”
Jaylani Hussein, executive director of CAIR’s Minnesota chapter, explained that the problem was a certain Islamic jihad terror group called ISIS that, he contended, Muslims abhorred so much that it was an open-and-shut case that the hapless barista had malicious intent: “Unfortunately, with Islamophobia, the No. 1 thing Muslims are … discriminatorily identified (as) is terrorists. Using this word for us would be the same as a Black man today being … (called) the N-word.”
The Target Starbucks manager, however, was less inclined to think that “Islamophobia” had broken out in his coffee house. He tried to recall Aishah to some sensible standard: “What is the issue? People get their names wrong all the time.”
His efforts, however, were to no avail. “The employee claimed that she had not heard her name correctly,” CAIR-MN stated in the press release. “Later, a supervisor told the Muslim customer that ‘mistakes’ sometimes happen with customers’ names, suggesting that this is not the first incident in which a customer felt targeted or harassed by a Target employee’s conduct when receiving their coffee order.” Or maybe the customers in question just noted that their names were wrong and then moved on with life and forgot about it: not everyone assumes that a mistake means one is being targeted or harassed.
Target also did its best to smooth over the situation: “We are very sorry for this guest’s experience at our store and immediately apologized to her when she made our store leaders aware of the situation. We have investigated the matter and believe that it was not a deliberate act but an unfortunate mistake that could have been avoided with a simple clarification. We’re taking appropriate actions with the team member, including additional training, to ensure this does not occur again.”
This isn’t going to work. Hamas-linked CAIR knows how to use cases such as this one to intimidate big companies and shake them down for money in the name of “diversity” and “inclusion.” In 2018, CAIR won a $1.5 million settlement from Cargill Meat Solutions over the firing of 138 Muslim workers who were demanding special breaks for Islamic prayers. Cargill Beef President John Keating defended his company’s actions: “The terminations at Fort Morgan appear to be based on a misunderstanding, or misinformation, about a perceived change in our religious accommodation policy that did not occur. Allegations that we were not going to allow prayer any longer are false. The result is that nearly 150 people found themselves in violation of our attendance policy and we had no alternative to termination. This change will provide for an orderly and expeditious reapplication process for people seeking an opportunity to potentially fill vacant positions at our beef plants.”
Nonetheless, Cargill was still out $1.5 million. And that’s just one of many such suits that CAIR has successfully pursued. Today’s nationwide race hysteria makes spurious claims of racial or religious discrimination all the easier to make stick. And so what is the likelihood that Target Starbucks will give Aishah and Hamas-linked CAIR a massive payout to make this whole thing go away? Oh, about 120%.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 21 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.