Cinnamon Stillwell's recent column in SF Gate, "Savage vs. CAIR: The battle over free speech" on Dec. 19 offers a holiday assortment of misleading truths and omissions of facts. In her misguided defense of the "Savage Nation" radio show, Stillwell essentially defends anarchistic hate against minority groups including African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Muslims, Catholics, Jews, immigrants and women. She does so under the pretense of defending free speech.
Of course, most elementary school students will tell you that hate speech is not to be confused with free speech.
CAIR, the California Council of Churches, Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak and other Hate Hurts America Coalition coalition members cherish America's tradition of freedom of speech. HHA is practicing its own freedom of speech when it calls people of conscience to stand up against Michael Savage's hate-filled anti-minority tirades.
Stillwell's wrath against CAIR and other HHA members as a mere consequence of their advocacy against hate speech puts in question her credibility as a columnist.
Is Stillwell arguing that the incitement of violence against minorities is protected under free speech, or did she just never chance upon the numerous times Savage has advocated hateful acts against many other minority groups?
It cannot possibly be the latter because Savage's record is out there for all to see. In 2004, Savage stated "I think (Muslims) need to be forcibly converted to Christianity ... It's the only thing that can probably turn them into human beings." In 2006, he called for a ban on Muslim immigration and recommended making "the construction of mosques illegal in America." Also that year, he advocated "kill(ing) 100 million" Muslims.
Luckily, many Americans who become familiar with his divisive hatemongering have not fallen prey to Stillwell's expediency. A growing list of companies including AutoZone, Citrix, TrustedID, JC Penney, OfficeMax, Wal-Mart, and AT&T have pulled their sponsorship from the Savage Nation radio show in compliance with their companies' policy of not supporting hate speech.
Stillwell's column takes the Savage controversy as an excuse to publish yet another attack against CAIR using the same old tired allegations favored by the likes of Daniel Pipes, a Campuswatch.org colleague of Stillwell.
But when it comes to CAIR, Stillwell, like Pipes, is neither an objective journalist nor a neutral scholar. Stillwell does not initiate her research of CAIR by asking questions for which she seeks answers, but by providing answers for which she cherry-picks evidence. A quick review of Stillwell's writings leaves one to wonder whether she bears an agenda against Muslims and the organizations that represent them.
Readers deserve to get the straight record on CAIR:
CAIR, along with all major American Muslim organizations, has consistently condemned terrorism in all its forms, including attacks against Israeli civilians. A section on CAIR's Web site includes comprehensive information that demystifies the list of recycled smears and distortions used by Stillwell to defame CAIR. The fact that CAIR comes under attack by the likes of Stillwell and Savage is no surprise to anyone who works for positive social change. All proponents of justice have faced similar attacks designed to silence their voices. (MORE)
Safaa Ibrahim is Executive Director, CAIR-San Francisco Bay Area.