The Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) weighed in Saturday on the Confederate flag controversy, calling for the banning of the offending ensign at the Lorain County Fair in Wellington, Ohio. But why would an Islamic advocacy group that doesn’t even consider itself American at all (hence the hyphenated “American-Islamic” in its name, as if they were two distinct entities) care to enter into a conflict over America’s racial divide?
CAIR’s officials claim that it’s because of their concern for civil rights. CAIR-Cincinnati Executive Director Karen Dabdoub explained: “Those who wish to traffic in racist symbols that only serve to marginalize their fellow Americans should not be permitted to do so in a public facility at a community celebration. Instead they should seriously consider putting their time and talents toward positive pursuits that make their community stronger and more inclusive.” How the community could become more inclusive by exclusion, she didn’t say.
Meanwhile, CAIR’s notoriously prickly National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper was more direct: “Symbols glorifying and honoring white supremacy, slavery and treason should be repudiated by all Americans, not put on display at mainstream venues. Those who reject white supremacy and racism can best demonstrate that rejection by avoiding any enterprise that seeks to profit from hate.”
It is important to remember when reading these statements that CAIR is not actually as high-minded and opposed to “hate” as Dabdoub and Hooper would have you believe. CAIR is an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas terror funding case — so named by the Justice Department. CAIR officials have repeatedly refused to denounce Hamas and Hizballah as terrorist groups. Several former CAIR officials have been convicted of various crimes related to jihad terror. CAIR’s cofounder and longtime Board chairman (Omar Ahmad), as well as its chief spokesman (Hooper himself), have made Islamic supremacist statements about how Islamic law should be imposed in the U.S. (Ahmad denies this, but the original reporter stands by her story.) CAIR chapters frequently distribute pamphlets telling Muslims not to cooperate with law enforcement. CAIR has opposed virtually every anti-terror measure that has been proposed or implemented and has been declared a terror organization by the United Arab Emirates. CAIR’s Hussam Ayloush in 2017 called for the overthrow of the U.S. government. CAIR’s national outreach manager is an open supporter of Hamas.
But even aside from all that, the idea that the Confederate flag represents the endorsement of white supremacy and racism, and its rejection amounts to taking a stand against those things, is not as cut and dried as CAIR contends. The Left today, of which CAIR is a foremost exponent, has gone all-in for the idea that life is very simple: you are either good or evil, Left or Right, woke or racist, multicultural or white supremacist. There are no gray areas in CAIR’s world.
Real life, however, is more complicated. Abraham Lincoln was aware of this 154 years ago; CAIR is not. In his Second Inaugural Address, Lincoln criticized slavery and the Confederates who were fighting for it: “It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces.” He also ascribed the Civil War itself to God’s judgment for slavery: “If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’”
However, later in the same address Lincoln sounded one of the moving and eloquent conciliatory notes ever penned in all of human history: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
It was in the spirit of “malice toward none” and “charity for all” that the federal government allowed Southern states to build monuments to Confederate heroes and fly the Confederate flag. For decades in the South, this was not seen as an endorsement of secession or slavery, but a recognition that men such as Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson and others were, despite the undeniable evils of the Confederacy, noble and courageous men who could be honored without that honor constituting an endorsement of a terrible cause.
CAIR, by contrast, like the rest of the Left, considers the individuals who fought for the Confederacy to be evil, and the Confederate flag to be repudiated for standing for nothing other than racism and slavery.
This represents the new attitude of charity toward none and malice toward all. CAIR’s parent organization, the Islamic Association for Palestine, was named in a May 1991 Muslim Brotherhood document, “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America” as one of the Brotherhood’s “organizations of our friends” that shared the common goal of “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 falls, and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”
“By their hands and the hands of the believers.” That is, the destruction of Western civilization will be brought about not only by the hands of Muslim Brotherhood operatives, but by the hands of non-Muslim Westerners themselves. In this particular, we have CAIR reinforcing the idea that the Confederate flag must in all cases mean racism and hatred, and only racism and hatred and demonizing those Americans who think that flag should not be banned because Americans should be aware of and celebrate their common history, without denying or glossing over its evils: with malice toward none and charity for all.
The effect of CAIR’s call to ban the Confederate flag will be, in short, more division and conflict among Americans. What could be a better result for a group dedicated to “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within”?
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His new book is The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.