Politics & Policy

CAIR: Censor or Free-Speech Champion?

The group opposes a law curtailing Jew hatred.

Breaking news: CAIR, perennial agitator for language purges and “hate speech” regulation, is suddenly the champion of First Amendment free expression. It proves, once again, that Islamists and leftists are just like defense lawyers.

A defense lawyer who has a good case can be very persuasive. If the defendant really is innocent, or if the prosecution’s case really is flawed, defense counsel can take one main line of defense and pound away at it relentlessly. That is how doubt is sown, which is the defense lawyer’s objective. A credible story that the prosecutor cannot completely refute is the roadmap to acquittal.

This, however, is not the lot of most defense lawyers. In the vast majority of cases, the client really is guilty, and the state really does have ironclad proof. So defense counsel becomes the charlatan for whom every trial day is a new day. On Monday, he tries a false-identification theory, suggesting that the defendant was not even at the scene of the crime. When that doesn’t fly, on Tuesday he runs with, “Well, maybe he was there, but he didn’t know the three guys he was with.” Once that blows up, Wednesday’s gambit is: “Well, sure, he knew them, but he didn’t know they were going to rob the bank.” By Thursday, it’s: “Well, maybe he said he’d help them, but one was a government informant, so he must have been entrapped.”

Our defense lawyer is put in this untenable position because his true objective is fundamentally different from his lofty pretense. He purports to be on a quest for justice, but the only thing he really cares about is getting the defendant off, by any means that might work. Thus, he tries all means he can think of, even if they are contradictory — even if positing the first defense undermines the next, ultimately destroying his overall credibility as an advocate.

#ad#Although it does more than its share of litigating, the Council on American-Islamic Relations operates mainly in the court of public opinion. CAIR is the Muslim Brotherhood bullhorn created to cheerlead for sharia, for Hamas, and for sundry other jihadists — all under the guise of “civil rights.” In unison with its “social justice” collaborators on the left, CAIR is most often found campaigning against “Islamophobia.” This is a term strategically created by the Brotherhood to slur as “defamation” or “incitement” (collectively, “hate speech”) any criticism of Islamic supremacism. That includes the ideology’s undeniable roots in Muslim scripture; its vow to destroy the West from within; and its promotion of terrorism against legitimate sovereign authority, spun as “resistance” against “occupation.”

It is farce. CAIR has no real interest in hate speech per se. Indeed, it has no real interest in civil rights — no proponent of sharia could. Its sole actual imperative is Islamic supremacism: promoting any cause that increases Islamic influence and protesting any effort either to reduce Islamic influence or to subject Islamic-supremacist doctrine to scrutiny. Consequently, CAIR’s precious fretting over hate speech extends only so far as Islam is advanced or imperiled.

The same is true of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation — the supranational caliphate in the making — whose top goal at the moment is suppression of speech about Islam. Like its CAIR confederates, the OIC pretends to be a champion of universal “human rights.” Thus it feigns opposition to defamation or incitement against what it calls “religion.” But we know this is fraudulent — or at least we would know if examination of Islamist ideology were not so adamantly discouraged. It is a plain, irrefutable fact that Islamic countries repress the practice of other religions. Indeed, the practice of religions other than Islam is illegal in Saudi Arabia, the OIC’s de facto leader. Patently, it is not “religion” that the OIC cares about; it is Islam. “Religion” is invoked as a smokescreen, enabling these Islamist activists to pose as guardians of civil rights rather than the vanguard of Islamic supremacism.

All of this is worth sorting out because, unexpectedly, we have a teachable moment. The state of California has adopted a resolution decreeing that “no public resources will be allowed to be used for any anti-Semitic or any intolerant agitation.”

#page#It is right up the Islamist alley — or it would be if, as CAIR and the OIC maintain, their concern is hate speech against “religion.” Yet CAIR has come out against the resolution. As Robert Spencer notes, CAIR’s Golden State chapter has issued a statement pleading with the legislature to reconsider. The resolution, according to the Islamists, “stifles robust political debate on university campuses.” Yes, with a curb on Jew hatred at issue, the guys who want to put you in jail for noticing that violent jihadists accurately quote Muslim scripture are suddenly worried that the marketplace of ideas may be shuttered!

#ad#Islamic supremacists have to take this position. To be sure, it flies in the face of their long-running defamation scam. But the code is broken once we decipher that CAIR’s reverence is for sharia — that these Islamists reject a universal, rather than a sharia-dictated, construction of civil rights. We then realize it makes perfect sense that Islamists would oppose critical examination of Islam but favor incitement against Jews. It makes perfect sense that, like our defense lawyer, CAIR is the scourge of “hate speech” one day and the avatar of free expression the next.

In a trial court, the defense lawyer’s dizzying assertion of contradictory positions never works, for two reasons. The first is that a jury is a captive audience: For as long as the trial lasts, other occupations are suspended and deciding the case is the jurors’ only job. They therefore pay close attention, and their common sense cannot but take account of the lawyerly legerdemain.

Second, even if the jurors’ attention wanders or they have memory lapses about the testimony, the trial has a record: The stenographer transcribes all of the testimony. An able prosecutor can thus easily show that while he has presented a straightforward case, the defense has responded with inconsistent bunkum.

Alas, Islamists romp in the court of public opinion. It is not a trial court, and there is no captive audience to judge its goings-on. People are busy living their lives. CAIR is obviously fraudulent, but who has time to notice? Or, better to say, the public cannot be expected to notice unless we have a responsible stenographer to make an honest record and a good-faith prosecutor to highlight the contradictions.

Today, in those roles, we have a left-leaning media that colludes in CAIR’s “civil rights” pretensions, and a pusillanimous political class that coddles Islamists while scalding their detractors. That’s how the charlatans win.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.

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