Wednesday -- 23 April 2003

Dear Friends of the Interfaith Freedom Foundation:

The struggle continues against the nomination of Daniel Pipes, the nation's most prominent Islamophobe and religious bigot, to the Board of Directors of the US Institute of Peace. The Washington POST and Dallas Morning NEWS have both taken editorial positions against Pipes' confirmation. The FORWARD ran an article critical of Pipes, quoting several foreign policy scholars who are opposed to Pipes.

The FORWARD quoted Hussein Ibish of the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee, who got off one of the best quotes yet regarding the entire controversy. Pipes' nomination, Ibish said, was a "sad, Orwellian, symbolic" gesture of an administration influenced by "far-right, pro-Likud neoconservatives and other extremists."

Just how extreme Pipes is prepared to be was revealed when he appeared over the weekend on "Democracy Now," an interview program on National Public Radio. Pipes advocated suspension of civil liberties for Muslims, as he usually does. When asked if he endorsed the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War Two, he refused to take a position, saying that he hadn't really studied the matter.

During an appearance on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal," Pipes again refused to condemn the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War Two! ("It's not a subject I know enough about to comment on," he said.) He again advocated increased government profiling of Muslims and Arab-Americans.

Most people are not going to be fooled by Pipes' claim that he knows nothing of internment of Japanese-Americans. (He has degrees in history from Harvard and knows perfectly well what happened during World War Two.) Pipes is simply sending a message in political code.

And his message, quite frankly, is that internment of Muslims and Arab-Americans should not be ruled out.

Pipes continues to make inflammatory statements. Yesterday he was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that President Bush was wrong to characterize Islam as a "peaceful religion." He supported this by claiming that "most mosques and Muslim organizations" in the US are dominated by extremists, according to AP reporter Rachel Zoll.

(Pipes has often said that he believes that the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the moderate Muslim civil rights organization, has a secret plan to take over the US and set up an Islamic government.)

It would seem obvious that no rational elected official would support Pipes' nomination. Yet this nomination should be taken in context. It appears to be a rather calculated trial balloon launched by some neoconservatives and some very rightwing Republicans to determine if Islamophobic rhetoric can pay political dividends for the Republican party. The Bush administration may also be under pressure from the religious right to go along with the nomination, since Pipes has recently made an alliance of sorts with Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

Furthermore, Pipes' many outrageous allegations are an almost perfect example of the Big Lie. What he says is so extreme that many people may conclude that there MUST be something to what he is saying.

It is therefore all the more important that we speak out against his confirmation to the USIP.

The Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will either confirm or defeat Pipes' nomination. The leader of the Democrats on the committee is Senator Edward Kennedy. He will speak later this week to the Arab American Institute, which has a fair amount of political clout in Washington. Will he take that opportunity to come out against the Pipes nomination?

He might, if he receives enough e-mail about it. Kennedy's e-mail address is as follows:

senator@kennedy.senate.gov

Please take the time to send Senator Kennedy a short e-mail opposing the nomination of Daniel Pipes to the Board of Directors of the US Institute of Peace. If confirmed to the Board of Directors of the USIP, Pipes would help allocate grants, which are supposed to go to people studying conflict resolution. You can imagine the kind of bigots and extremists Pipes would want to give money to! His confirmation to the USIP would be a disaster for peace studies.

It would also be a disaster for religious liberty, since his entire belief-system rests on guilt by association based solely on religious affiliation.

Please send an e-mail. As always, be firm but polite.

Lawrence Swaim
Director
Interfaith Freedom Foundation
PS: I just read in the Japanese-American Citizens' League newspaper, the PACIFIC CITIZEN, that Howard Coble was prevented from speaking at Commencement at his alma mater, Guilford College. (Coble was the Republican in the House of Representatives who endorsed internment of Japanese-Americans during World War Two, and who stated that Arab-Americans might also have to be interned.) It seems that the graduating seniors presented Coble with a petition asking him not to speak! The seniors not only criticized him for his endorsement of internment, but also pointed out that his support of the war in Iraq was not consistent with the pacifist tradition of the Quakers who founded Guilford College.