Islamophobia @ the Hammer

By Ari Bussel

Muslims in America are striving for new heights. They are interested in the Jewish suffering of ages, craving for nothing less than misery.

At a recent event hosted by the Hammer Museum in Westwood (Los Angeles, California), the panelists were focused on Islamophobia, real or imagined. Apparently, this is the new magic word adorned by each: A Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) representative, a Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) representative, a “liberal-progressive” radio show host, a Jewish Rabbi who works for an interfaith organization founded (and likely funded) by MPAC and a professor who professed to liberalism, but in the setting of this very respected panel suddenly morphed into a “conservative.”

All is indeed relative, and this was the stage for a controversial evening at the Hammer. “Controversial,” only insofar as all the opinions expressed as “facts” were so extreme, one was left agape with the Shock Effect.

A calming chill engulfed me from the very start: No photography allowed. No recording of any type. There must be something of shame or sinister associated with the event. The Director of Programming started by a very severe warning: She came to listen. No interruptions will be allowed. The place is surrounded with trained guards who will immediately escort out anyone who does not subscribe to sitting tight, not moving right or left or breathing regularly.

Was the warning to the pro-Muslim portion of the crowd that routinely interrupts and disrupts speakers and considers it a “right” to prevent anyone else from speaking? I was ill at ease, as the warning seemed directed to me, a first time visitor to the Hammer who actually came to listen and learn.

I do not want to sit in events that are considered “controversial” if one is ostracized for not agreeing with the mandated message. I prefer to remain open, inviting, encouraging and listen to conflicting points of view and then make my own judgments. What ever happened to respect for differing opinions?

I, for one, am tired of people who blame others. I hope for the day when Muslims spring into action to take control over their own community’s behavior. Until then, I cannot respect them as they do not respect themselves.

I do use the word Terrorism and the phrase Islamic fanaticism. When an attack starts with “Allah U Akbar,” it is neither a Jewish terrorist nor a Christian one. When a head of a liberal, Jewish, American reporter is severed from his body, as was the fate of Daniel Pearl of blessed memory, I do not sing Kumbaya.

I do not wish this great country of ours to become a Muslim country. I am glad it is a Christian country, as it was founded, tolerant of others, including the small minority of which I am part—the Jewish community.

I sat horrified, as a museum associated with my Alma Mater UCLA became a breeding ground for hatred and fear, a platform for spreading lies and instilling fear. Everything was “nicely” said, beautifully camouflaged and applied in a neat, one-sided package. This must not continue or be tolerated.

This was my first time at the Hammer, although not the first at Muslim-progressive-kumbaya (aka “interfaith”) events.

According to Wikipedia, Kumbaya is a song “originally associated with human and spiritual unity, closeness and compassion, … but more recently it is also cited or alluded to in satirical or cynical ways that suggest false moralizing, hypocrisy or naively optimistic views of the world and human nature.”

Indeed, Kumbaya encapsulates the evening at the Hammer: False and alarmingly moralizing, mixed with hypocrisy, feeding on the “naively optimistic views of the world and human nature” of misguided progressive-liberals, Jews and Christians alike.

The Muslims cannot comprehend why Anti-Semitism is so widely applied toward Jews whereas society shies away from granting them the same compassion. They envy the Jewish assimilation into mainstream American society, and the CAIR panelist explained he wishes that face-less Muslims covered head-to-toe with a fashionable Hijab will become synonymous with America the way a NY Jew, Seinfeld, is perceived as the all- or typical-American. Amen!

They yearn for underdog status, thirst to be unjustly oppressed. So much so that MPAC has targeted Japanese Americans and claim to suffer the same fate as they did during the interment camps of WWII. My going to the Hammer was highlighted by a history lesson: that of Executive Order 9066 issued on the 19th of February, 1924, by FDR.

There were dozens of murders in Los Angeles in December 2012, proclaimed the CAIR representative, compared with less than 200 convictions over the past decade of Muslims (so called “terrorists” or “would-be terrorists”) in the USA! he proudly announced. Of the latter, he noted with a sneer, about 25% were entrapments by the FBI and the authorities.

He ignored the enormity of each attack or potential terrorist act. He also misled by using conviction rate as a barometer of reality. It would be erroneous to conclude that with so few convictions, there were no other attempts to carry out terrorist attacks by Muslim Americans, Muslims here illegally or Muslim terrorists trying to infiltrate the USA to commit mayhem and murder.

The speakers followed a very effective method: throw out statistics, confuse the listener with outwardly “factual data” and talk so sleekly and quickly one does not have time to digest the information. Furthermore, minimize, dismiss and ignore any signs of wrongdoings by the Muslims, and deny all blame. They are innocent and honest and the embodiment of goodness, the pinnacle of perfection, inside and out.

Everything Muslims do is good. Jihad, for instance, explained one speaker, only means “struggle,” the Struggle of a seven year old to tie his shoes. This is according to the CAIR representative who heads student activities at the University of Southern California in his role as the director of Muslim Student Life. It is a very frightening promise of the future.

The CAIR representative subscribes to the notion he has every right to do as he pleases, and is constantly being harassed and persecuted for no reason. He gets the “VIP treatment” at the airport. Really? Does he? How so? The TSA is not allowed to profile, so every time my mother goes by, she is patted and searched. But why focus on him? Ours is a culture of great tolerance, lest his very sensitive emotions be hurt and he would sue the “authorities” and everyone present for targeting him.

The most basic premise conveniently escapes his argument: The only reason we are unable to go to the gate to greet a loved one departing or arriving is because of terrorist attacks by Muslims. The society at large pays a very dear price, both in the cost of the TSA and the inconvenience we all endure, so any complaints must be addressed within the Muslim community. Do not ask for sharing of responsibility from me, as your community – or elements thereof – is the instigator of a new post-9/11 life.

I, too, look Middle Eastern, except my heart is not filled with hatred toward the West, and I have nothing to hide. Thus, at times when I am stopped at an airport, I take it lightly, with courtesy and understanding.

I understand what is happening is designed to protect me and my fellow passengers from mad men and women who subscribe to some convoluted version of Islam. I do not blame all Muslims, but I do not appreciate their whining that they suffer as a result. We all suffer.

There are two point something million Muslims in the USA. This is a tiny minority in a country that is most accommodating to minorities of all kinds. Unlike what some claim, the United States of America was not founded on Islamic principles nor is it a Muslim country and is unlikely to change in the future.

According to the speakers on the panel, a majority of Muslims in the USA—61% of 2.6M—are afraid of extremism in their own midst. Clearly, that “fear” does not translate to proper action. Blaming the world is not the remedy.

The speakers all lamented Islamophobia. How Anti-Semitism is addressed and anti-Semitic attacks against Jews are on the decline (one of the speakers quoted a reduction of about ten percent from over a thousand attacks a year), whereas attacks against Muslims are ever on the rise numbering 100 or so. They are striving to reach the heights of Jewish misery and misfortune, so they might have a legitimization for their concocted grievances. What a miserable way to view life.

Moreover, they use a one-way, distorted prism: Muslims found guilty on terrorism charges—false of course. Complaints of hatred—valid as charged! Deflate the former, inflate the latter. You can do no wrong. Muslims are peace-loving Americans and unjustly persecuted and hated.

The only “fear” I felt throughout the evening is one of not saying the “right” thing in terms of being politically correct and acceptable to the panelists. They were a quick-witted bunch with tongues sharper than daggers. They knew how to expect and demand, but practiced nothing of what they preach. Blame others. Seed and cultivate fear. Sow the rewards.

Imagine a world in which Muslims in America, the majority of which fear extremism, take action against terrorism. Inventing and propagating a new word (“Islamophbia” or “Islamaphobia”) and blaming the FBI won’t fight extremism.

Paying lip service when terrorist attacks occur regularly by Islamists is insufficient when there is no real action or substance to support the words. Truly fighting extremism is not pre-conditioned upon one’s political ideology, partisan affiliation or connection to (more correctly disconnection from and hatred of) Israel. Also, Muslims do not need my understanding and compassion if they are truly determined to fight extremism from within. Extremism starts at mosques and community centers. Isolationism and actions that disrespect all others do not show sincerity.

I left mesmerized by how effective CAIR and MPAC are at what they do. They enlist liberal Jews and progressive Christians who believe conservatives and Evangelicals (or anyone else with values or who might support Israel) is a sinner and an obstacle. They utilize the most sophisticated speakers, bar none, where style and maneuvering surpass any other message.

We must fight back, lest we fall into the trap of “blamism” and the refusal to own responsibility for one’s own actions. The honey around is still dripping, the picture beautifully painted and the late Armand Hammer turning in his grave.