Muslim spokesmen in the U.S. are outraged over remarks made last Friday by Bud Day, a key supporter of John McCain. Day, a much-decorated Air Force Colonel and Medal of Honor recipient who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam with McCain, said during a conference call organized by the Florida Republican Party that “the Muslims have said either we kneel, or they’re going to kill us.” Day added: “I don’t intend to kneel, and I don’t advocate to anybody that we kneel, and John doesn’t advocate to anybody that we kneel.”
The reaction was swift. Saif Ishoof, president of the Center for Voter Advocacy, said that Day’s remarks were “perpetuating a form of Islamophobia.” Khaled Saffuri, the Executive Director of the Islamic Institute (which he co-founded with Grover Norquist), was also deeply offended. “‘This is as close to racist as it gets,” he declared. “These are cheap street tactics. Even if this is called a mistake or a slip of the tongue, it shows a bigger problem with racism. McCain and the Republican party should denounce this.” (Keith Olbermann also termed Day’s words “racism and religious hatred,” although neither he nor Saffuri explained what race Islam is.)
Corey Saylor, national legislative director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), also called on McCain to distance himself from Day, stating that “CAIR would like to see Senator McCain come out and make a clear statement repudiating these remarks. We don’t believe they’re helpful at all in either putting out the campaign’s message or winning the hearts and minds in the Muslim world that America needs to be winning.”
However, a repudiation from McCain was not immediately forthcoming. McCain campaign spokesman Michael Goldfarb said only: “The threat we face is from radical Islamic extremism.” However, a spokeswoman for the Republican Party, according to the Miami Herald, “said later that Day acknowledged he misspoke and ‘made an unfortunate mistake’ because he meant to say ‘terrorists’ and not ‘Muslims.’ The Herald itself took for granted that Day had said something wrong, calling his remarks a “gaffe on Muslims.”
Unnoticed, however, in the controversy over Day’s remarks was the fact that what he said was essentially accurate. While it is certainly true that not all Muslims are trying to “make us kneel,” there can be no legitimate question whatsoever that there are indeed Muslims who are engaged in such an effort. The Muslim Brotherhood in the United States is, according to a Brotherhood operative, engaged in a “grand jihad” aimed at “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 is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”
What’s more, there is considerable reason to suspect that some of the Muslim leaders who have been most indignant over Day’s words are involved in this “grand jihad.” Investigative journalist Kenneth Timmerman wrote in 2004 of Khaled Saffuri’s considerable influence in Washington, and then noted that “some of the very people Saffuri introduced to Bush and Rove are in federal prison on terrorism-related charges. Others have been expelled from the country. Still other former colleagues and donors have become subjects of a massive federal probe into U.S. funding of terrorist organizations that is code-named Operation Greenquest….Saffuri’s ties to radical Islamists and apologists for terror are neither superficial nor coincidental.” And CAIR, of course, was in 2007 named an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation Hamas terror funding case, and has had several of its officials arrested and convicted on terrorism-related charges.
Why was none of this been mentioned in mainstream media coverage of this story? It isn’t really surprising that it wasn’t, given the tendencies and perspectives of the mainstream media – indeed, it would have been more surprising if they had mentioned it. But Bud Day’s remarks should have been judged for their accuracy: are there, or are there not, Muslims trying to make us kneel? No one would have objected in 1944 if a military spokesman had said that “the Germans are trying to make us kneel,” and someone who took offense to such a statement on the grounds that not all Germans were pro-Nazi would only have been ridiculed. However, CAIR has shown in the past that the accuracy of statements to which it takes umbrage does nothing to mitigate their hurt feelings. And now the primacy of hurt feelings has been enshrined into law in Canada: as we have seen in the Mark Steyn trials in Canada, truth and accuracy is no defense against charges of “hate speech.” In a sane world, instead of taking offense, Islamic spokesmen in the U.S. would have been assuring reporters that they were working energetically within Muslim communities against those who wished to make non-Muslims kneel. But sanity is at a premium in the public debate on Islamic jihad today.
Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of seven books, eight monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His next book, Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs, is coming this November from Regnery Publishing.