Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sharia In A Bowl?

Remember Pamela Geller?  The gal who stirred up the GroundZero Mosque controversy, even though the proposed building was not at Ground Zero, was not a mosque, and had been approved by the local community association (i.e., the people most affected by 9/11)?  She's baaaaaaack - and madder than ever.  This time?  Ms. Geller is taking aim at Campbell's Soup, for issuing a line of halal soups in Canada.  Or, more correctly, she has nothing against halal foods - but she claims that the company providing the halal certification funds terrorist organizations and is tied to the Muslim Brotherhood.  All this, despite the fact that, according to the Washington Post,

ISNA has denied any ties to Hamas or to officials of a defunct charity called Holy Land Foundation, who were convicted in the conspiracy case. It has specifically condemned religious extremism and violence. In the wake of the conspiracy trial, Jewish and Protestant organizations issued statements in support of ISNA. 

In addition,

Campbell investigated ISNA's background and found "no issues of concern," according to Faulkner.  The group was referred to Campbell by a Canadian trade organization whose member companies have used ISNA for their halal certification for years. "We point out to the people supporting this [boycott] that they are a very legitimate entity," Faulkner said. "We feel very comfortable working with them." 

Yet Ms. Geller keeps repeating her accusations, as if the simple repetition of such will make them true.   And, for once, she is correct - you repeat something often enough, people accept it for fact.  Remember Death Panels?  Or Obama's secret Muslim identity? 

This woman is certainly entitled to her own opinion, but (to paraphrase the late Senator Moynihan) she is most certainly not entitled to her own facts.  Unless, of course, our silence gives tacit permission for her to keep peddling her fearmongering falsehoods to a gullible public...

Speak up, people.  Speak up.

[Soup image credit: TheMuslim.ca]
[Panic image credit: MySpace Forums]


  1. Apparently I live in a deep dark cave. Or I don't watch TV. or something. Had no idea this was even an ISSUE!

  2. You know how I feel about this. Sigh.

    Yes, repeating a non-truth as though it were a truth seems to work on a large segment of the population.

  3. Ahhh, sheeple. Gotta love 'em.

  4. Heard about this on Colbert last night...utterly ridiculous. But kudos to you for a brilliant post title!

  5. Who needs the truth when you have emotion?

  6. I heard about this nutjob from The Colbert Report, right after Stephen pointed out that bananas were crescent-shaped.

    Want to join me at the Rally to Restore Sanity?

  7. How do you KNOW she is "peddling fearmongering falsehoods?" With all due respect, serious people - who read various news sources - have questioned the ISNA. They are affiliated with the Muslim Student Association, which is an extremely anti-Semitic organization that also condones terrorism. ISNA has been named an "unindicted co-conspirator and an entity that was or is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 2007 Holy Land terrorism trial." That's off Wikipedia, not the most reliable source, but it gives you an idea. Stephen Schwartz has said that ISNA is the chief conduit through which Wahhabism passes through to the US. Schwartz is an outspoken critic of militant Muslim groups - and a Muslim. I do care about this, and certainly cannot say that Ms. Geller is wrong to speak up. It takes bravery to question a powerful organization like Campbell's, and know that you will be considered an ignorant "fearmongering" fool by a certain segment of the population, including many people in influential positions in the media. Yes, speak up. Speak up, Ms. Geller.

  8. @Anonymous - When I first read about Ms. Geller's campaign, I agreed with her. I thought, "Hey! Why can't Campbells Canada find someone decent to certify their halal soups? I have nothing against halal, myself; but I don't condone companies who have a violent agenda!"

    That was my kneejerk reaction, to be honest. And then I remembered I needed to check if what Ms. Geller were saying were true or if it merely contained a germ of truth that made it plausible. Key difference. Many demagogues gain traction by telling not out-and-out falsehoods, but incorrect interpretations of indisputable facts. I hate to drag Hitler into this, but some of what he said was true - Jews were prominent in banking and business in Germany post-WWI. The conclusions he drew from this fact, however, were not correct.

    Please note that I am not comparing Ms. Geller to Hitler, except insofar as they share(d) certain traits of demagoguery. I know Ms. Geller is not a mass murderer.

    So I researched ISNA. They were named as a co-conspirator - there is the germ of truth you found. But, as far as I could tell, they were never convicted. Still, I was suspicious. Maybe they got off on a technicality. Maybe there just wasn't enough evidence to convict, but the company was guilty anyway. I still agreed with Ms. Geller.

    Then, I read what I have posted above: In the wake of the conspiracy trial, Jewish and Protestant organizations issued statements in support of ISNA. Hmmm....why would they do that for a known terrorist sympathizer? Protestant organizations in the US tend to be extremely pro-Israel. Jewish organizations? Goes without saying...it didn't make sense. Still, maybe they were kneejerk liberals, willing to give anyone the benefit of the doubt in the name of civil rights and due process. Possible....

    Then, I read that Campbell Soups claims they thoroughly investigated this agency. Campbells is a big company that depends on the good will of its consumers to survive. Why would they associate with an organization that they found shady? Yes, they are courting the Muslim market; but, please, Muslims make up 2.5 percent of the Canadian population. Even if they are disproportionately represented among that nation's soup eaters, it's not a big enough market to warrant Cambells's alienating the rest of its consumer base.

    Finally, I went to the ISNA website. If they are militant Muslims, they are going to great lengths to conceal it. Let's see...

    ISNA Joins Interfaith Leaders to Support Peace in Jerusalem

    In partnership with the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and Hartford Seminary, ISNA will host an innovative roundtable discussion, “Judaism and Islam in America Today"

    ISNA Hosts U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Philip Crowley for Local Town Hall Meeting

    Wow - doesn't really sound like someone who would be on the US's sh*t list, does it?

    SO - to assume that Ms. Geller is correct, I would also have to assume that everyone else involved is misguided (including the US gov't) and that she alone is in possession of the truth. That's a little sketchy, in and of itself. Then, when I combine that with the fact that she was one of the fearmongering leaders of the movement to ban the (not) Ground Zero (not) Mosque, I begin to question her credibility.

    It's called logic, Anonymous. Research and logic - something that is in short supply in our public discourse lately.

  9. I agree - research and logic are in short supply in our public discourse. Few people work the way you do to locate the facts. However, I also believe that many organizations of all kinds do go to great lengths to hide their criminal activities. Still, just because federal prosecutors named ISNA as co-conspirators in the Holy Land trial does not mean they are proven terrorists. Not at all. But the question does loom. The ISNA grew out of the MSA, which I do worry about given its agenda. MSA - certainly not on its website - in its activities has shown itself to be incredibly anti-Semitic. Remember the student who told David Horowitz she wants a second Holocaust? She may not be representative of all MSA members, but I would guess that peace loving Muslims do not want to be represented by organizations that have these kinds of people in their midst. See the website for the Center for Islamic Pluralism. This group is much less well connected than ISNA and gets far less attention, yet struggles to give moderate Muslims a chance to diminish the effect of militant Islam in America.

    By all means, we should question what we hear from "both sides." Perhaps ISNA is not guilty of spreading Wahhabism, as Schwartz charges. Still, I'd like to see the public support a group like CIP rather than a somewhat questionable group like ISNA in order to reach out to the majority of Muslims who denounce violence and terrorism.

  10. ISNA is a completely different type of organization than CIP. CIP is a thinktank, while ISNA is more a standard North American religious organization, offering religious services, holding conventions, doing humanitarian outreach. I don't think CIP offers services such as halal certification - there would be no reason for Campbell's to be involved with them.

    And how does "the question" loom? According to the ISNA website,

    ...the listing of ISNA [in the US gov't lawsuit] was not to imply that ISNA was part of a criminal conspiracy or that it acted with any criminal intent, but rather, it was a legal tactic to permit the government to seek the admission of evidence that would otherwise be excluded.

    Does the ISNA receive money from the Wahhabis? That, to me, would be alarming, if somehow this organization is Saudi Wahhabi funded. I am well aware of their brand of Islamic fundamentalism and I am no fan of a bunch of religious zealots who would let schoolgirls burn alive rather than let them out of their burning school without their headscarves on. But is ISNA receiving funds from the Wahhabis? I can't find any reliable evidence supporting that assertion.

    It's true that many jihadist or militant Muslim groups will try to hide under the cloak of moderation. But that doesn't mean that every moderate Muslim group is secretly harboring a militant agenda. To assume so is to tar many Muslim groups unfairly.

    Until there is evidence to the contrary, I would have to trust ISNA's assertion, as follows:

    ISNA remains consistent in its rejection of terrorism and violence. ISNA rejects all acts of terrorism, including those perpetrated by Hamas, Hizbullah and any other group that claims Islam as their inspiration. ISNA has encouraged and continues to encourage a just and fair settlement of disputes between Israel, the Palestinians and their neighbors through diplomacy and other peaceful means.

    Certainly, its actions and the testimonies of non-Muslim groups who have worked with ISNA bear out the truth of the above statement. On the other hand, Ms. Geller is a proven alarmist, seeing terrorists under every bed, as it were. Her involvement with the Ground Zero Mosque controversy demonstrates that. Even so, I was willing to consider her claims about ISNA and investigate them. Just because someone is wrong once, doesn't mean they are always wrong. Maybe she was the lady who cried "Terrorist!" Maybe, I thought, this was a real issue.

    But it isn't.

  11. Don't get me wrong - I think it is important that we watch out for Wahhabi influence in North American Islam. That is what our intelligence services are for. That is what they do. But even in the director of CIP's testimony before Congress, he was not able to really pin ISNA with anything. And I'm sure he tried. The closest he could come was this statement: "Both ISNA and CAIR, in particular, maintain open and close relations with the Saudi government."

    Guess what? The US gov't maintains open and close relations with the Saudi gov't. That's just not good enough, even though the Saudi gov't is beholden to its Wahhabi overlords, as it were. It may be that one of ISNA's affiliated member mosques has received money from Wahhabis at some point in the past. But I don't think that would be enough to incriminate ISNA for collusion with Wahhabism.

  12. I'm really done now. My poor children are being neglected.

  13. If the *$(%&#^@@@ press wouldn't give these idiots a forum, no one would be listening. Just sayin'.

  14. SC? I love your brain.

    If raising children kills brain cells, I'd shudder at the power of your mind BC (before children).

  15. I just have to weigh in once more. The perspective that you have is that Ms. Geller is a fearmongerer. Your words imply she is a rather ignorant liar, as well. Green Girl calls her an "idiot." Stephen Schwartz is a fervent Muslim who wants to save Islam from the militant forces that dominate it. He would agree with Ms. Geller on the Islamic center near Ground Zero as well as her concerns about ISNA. So, as a serious journalist and scholar of Islam, does that make him an idiot and fearmongerer as well?

    I don't know for certain who is right and who is wrong. But I see in your words and those of your readers a knee-jerk reaction. The "gal who stirred up the Ground Zero Mosque controversy" is not to be believed. Wait - does anyone here really believe there would have been no controversy if she could have been silenced? Please.

    If I say I am opposed to the Islamic Center at Ground Zero, does that make me an Islamophobe? What about those Muslims who take issue with people like Rauf and his plan? What about those Muslims who want to reclaim their religion from zealots? Objectively speaking, there is a problem with violence within Islam. We should give great attention to those who would fight to save Islam from any Wahhabi or jihadist influences. That's all I'm saying. And it's frustrating to hear that those kinds of ideas should not be given a forum, or belong in the category of fearmongering.

  16. I am not saying that Islam should not be saved from Wahhabi or jihadist influences. I am not saying that those ideas should not be given a forum. There are many reasonable people out there working to do just that. I know some of them. I am aware of the issues, believe me.

    And there is nothing wrong with someone saying, "Hey! Is this organization that Campbell's affiliating with a safe one?" That's what is supposed to happen. But, once the evidence for danger is examined and found lacking, one would expect someone like Ms. Geller to back down. And maybe even apologize.

    I am not against the issues Ms. Geller raises. I am against the way she raises them and the way she treats opposing evidence. She strikes me as ideologically-driven, not caring what facts stand in her way.

    Being opposed to an Islamic Center NOT at Ground Zero but 2 blocks from it does not make one an Islamophobe, per se. The issue needed to be raised. But I have not seen a single good reason given to violate our principles of religious tolerance. Rauf claims (and the record shows) that he is one of those Muslims who desire to reclaim their religion from zealots. There was even a memorial to the victims of 9/11 planned for the Center. But Ms. Geller insisted he was a jihadist, no matter what facts she was confronted with. She (and those like her) take one instance or one out-of-context quote and ignore everything else. That is what makes her a fearmonger, not the fact that she raises the alarm on important issues.

    But I am definitely not saying she should be silenced. I am saying that she is not a credible proponent of her ideas. Those of us against extremism in any religion need better representatives than that, people who respect all the facts, not just one or two of them.

    I am sorry that some of the comments offended you. I agree that there are a number of kneejerk liberals among my commenters; I, however, am not one of them. There are many issues on which I have been at (friendly) odds with them over the past few years. As I pointed out yesterday, I even agreed at first with Ms. Geller on the Campbells controversy. But when I realized that she had her facts wrong (or, rather, one fact right and the rest wrong), I changed my mind. That's not kneejerk.

    I believe that those who would compromise our constitutional principles in the name of protecting us from extremism are more dangerous to us than the extremists themselves. We must be careful in our accusations and remember that, in this country, one is innocent until proven guilty. If we start trampling people's legal and religious rights in the name of fighting extremism, then the terrorists have truly won.

    I'm guessing I know you personally - I'd be glad to continue this conversation face-to-face!

  17. Yes, I am lucky to know you in person! As usual you have presented the issue very reasonably. I want you and the commenters here to know I have not been offended. But maybe it's worth knowing that there is another side to the issue that is, perhaps, worthy of some attention. I think underneath these discussions there may be a common ground that could be discovered with a little work. We definitely all love SC...

    Now, we REALLY need to get back to those children!