The week of October 22-26 witnessed the largest, most successful campus demonstrations by students not associated with the anti-American left in the history of campus protests. 114 college and university campuses participated in “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, which highlighted the threat from the Islamic jihad, and the oppression of Muslim women (http://www.incorrectu.com/).
It featured speakers such as former Senator Rick Santorum, Ann Coulter, Robert Spencer, Nonie Darwish, Wafa Sultan, Michael Medved, Dennis Prager and Daniel Pipes, and was organized by the David Horowitz Freedom Center with the help of Young America’s Foundation and the Leadership Institute.
At the beginning of the Week there were 6,000 website references to the protest. By its end there more than 500,000. There was coverage – often multiple news reports and opinion columns – in all the student papers on campuses where events took place and many more besides. In short, hundreds of thousands of members of the academic community were exposed to the message of the protests and the arguments over the issues they raised.
The events were also reported in the national media, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Seattle Times, the Washington Times and The Washington Post. There were syndicated op-ed columns by Maureen Dowd and Ann Coulter, there multiple columns on heavily trafficked blogs and webzines such as Slate, Huffington Post, DailyKos, Little Green Footballs, Atlantic Monthly, National Review Online, The Nation, and Townhall.com.
National Public Radio and talk show hosts Sean Hannity, Michael Medved Show, Michael Reagan, Martha Zoeller, Alan Nathan and many many others carried reports of the events and commentaries on the radio airwaves. The O’Reilly Factor, John Gibson’s Big Story, the Neil Cavuto Show, Hannity & Colmes, Fox Live and the Glenn Beck Show, brought Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week into the homes of millions.
In response, anti-American leftists and organizations supporting the Islamic jihad organized a national campaign of vitriol and hate almost as unprecedented. This campaign revealed the lengths to which the anti-American left will go to prevent the public from discussing the nature of the holy war that has been declared on them. It was characterized by a political McCarthyism whose levels of character assassination and slander had not been seen since the early days of the Cold War. Speakers for the events and students organizing them were attacked as religious bigots and anti-Muslim “racists” and “fascists.”
Leftwing activists at George Washington University posted a flyer fraudulently pretending to be put out by members of the Young America’s Foundation who organized and sponsored the event. The flyer was headlined “Who Hates Muslims? We Do,” with the intention of imputing a hate crime to students were in fact defending Muslims.
These verbal attacks were accompanied by physical threats, although violence was mercifully avoided by the security details that accompanied speakers to campus and campus police who watched over the events. Several ejections and arrests helped to maintain students’ safety and calm. Only at Emory University were these intellectual thugs successful in closing down a speech. This elicited an apology from Emory president James Wagner to the College Republicans who had sponsored the event.
The attacks on Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week exposed the broad scope of the alliance between radical Islam and American leftists who regard it as their political task to run interference for America’s enemies: Iraq yesterday, Iran today. These attacks were spear-headed by the misnamed American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee whose founder James Abourezk is an open supporter of the terrorist army, Hizbollah, and an outspoken enemy of his own country (http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1551.htm).
Under the Orwellian banner of defending tolerance, Abourezk’s group sent letters to the presidents of all the colleges hosting events, in an attempt to get administrators to shut them down and silence their speakers in advance. Abourezk’s Committee was joined by offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, including the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Muslim American Society, the Council on America Islamic Relations, and the Muslim Students Association, all of whom set out to stigmatize the students organizing the events as racists and bigots and haters of Muslims.
While the attackers pretended to speak in behalf of victims of ethnic prejudice, they in fact represented the radical wing of Islam that is persecuting Muslims. Leaders of the Muslim Students Association who attended our events, got up during the question periods to raise objections to the presentations.
The Vice President of the Muslim Students Association at Columbia protested my use of the word “jihad” during my speech, which she said meant spiritual “struggle” rather than “holy war.” The only problem was that I hadn’t used the word “jihad” in my speech at all. It was just one of the talking points she had been given in advance of the event. When I asked her whether she would denounce the terrorist group Hamas, which along with the Muslim Brotherhood created her organization, she evaded the question.
Supporting the Islamists’ efforts to discredit our concerns about Islamo-fascism was a panopoly of leftist websites and organizations that included the Revolutionary Communist Party, its front “World Can’t Wait,” another front “The Columbia Coalition Against the Iraq War,” the International Socialist Alliance, the Orwellian-named “National Project to Defend Dissent and Critical Thinking in Academia, the Nation Magazine, HuffingtonPost, Alternet.org., IndyMedia.org, Campus Progress (a campus organization created by the Soros and Clinton political network), the ACLU and College Democrats. Bloggers such as Joshua Micah Marshall and Matthew Yglesias piled on.
Cliopatria blogger Ralph Luker described our events as “Hate Your Neighbor Week,” which was accurate only if your neighbor were Osama bin Laden, Ayman Zawahiri or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The commotion caused by the witch-hunters did succeed in intimidating several student groups, who declined to sponsor the events. Some were prepared to give the counter-protesters the benefit of the doubt and meet their expressed concerns by holding the events under a different banner, calling them “Terrorism Awareness,” and leaving out the announced link to Islamo-fascism. This was fine with us, because our purpose was to foster a discussion not to impose a conclusion on the discussion itself.
Those students who attempted to meet the detractors half way were quickly disabused of their illusions, as they were attacked along with the rest of us. The campaign against Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week had nothing to do with style and everything to do with substance. The purpose of the character assassination and slander was to discredit all opposition to the left’s politically correct positions, and to suppress any discussion of the movement spawned by the Muslim Brotherhood which is behind all the terrorist attacks.
Our speakers showed admirable courage in their willingness to endure the slander and attacks they knew that challenging the left would entail. But it was our students who braved the fiercest attacks from members of their campus communities. I can’t say enough how proud I am of the students I met this week on the campuses I visited, and the many others who worked with us to make this week a success. Without their willingness to stand up and be counted, there would have been no Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.
I know why they did it. I have been speaking on college campuses for twenty years and I have never seen conservative students so ready to engage in conflicts that would invite such vicious attacks, alienate their professors and cause them to lose friends because of the vicious intimidations of the campus left. The reason they have become willing to do this now is simple. It is because of the example set by their brothers and sisters in the frontlines in Iraq.
When counter-protesters closed down my speech at Emory University, I remembered my first appearance in there in 2002, during the controversy over reparations. I had been invited by the chair of the College Republicans, a student named Lyle Rubin. Lyle was a bookish, intellectual type, a political science major. Our meeting left me concerned that he would not be aggressive enough to handle the attacks that were already coming his way not only from students and professors, but from “Student Life” deans who were instigator of the protests that attended my visit.
A few years later, I received an email from Lyle which he had sent to a list of his friends informing us that he was in his second week at Marine boot camp and asking if we would write him keep his spirits up so that he could survive the ordeals for which his previous life had not prepared him. Our students see members of their generation ready to put their lives on the line to defend their freedoms. They understand that the war is being waged at home as well. And they are not going to let their brothers and sisters in uniform shoulder the burden alone.
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