IN a heated exchange on MSNBC’s Allan Keyes show recently, Daniel Pipes
was so badly beaten on the merits of the argument that he was reduced to
shouting at me to “shut up.” Having failed to convince me to silence my
advocacy on behalf of the Arab-American community voluntarily, Pipes now
seeks to have me banned from the TV shows where I have repeatedly
carried the day. In the pages of the New York Post he urges the media
to “close their doors” to me.
Pipes accuses me of being “anti-American” because I have criticized some
aspects of US foreign policy, something he does all the time. He calls
me “anti-Semitic,” but provides not a single piece of evidence of this
because none exists.
Almost all his “evidence” that I should not be allowed to defeat him in
television debates any more is quotes ripped out of their context and
misrepresented, mainly from articles I wrote as a university student
many years ago. It is truly touching to think of poor old Dan pouring
over musty issues of the Massachusetts Daily Collegian in a futile
search for means to discredit me.
This is not the first time that Pipes, who is a veritable geyser of
falsehoods, has resorted to such fabrications. In August 2000, he
labeled me a “fundamentalist Muslim,” whose goal is “the Islamization of
America.” This nonsense fell completely flat, and has occasionally come
back to haunt him, since I was then and remain an ardent secularist. It
has now given way to equally absurd claims that I promote “a set of far
So, in Pipes’ mind, I’ve suddenly gone, in the space of less than two
years, from being a far right-wing fundamentalist to an extreme leftist.
Pipes gets everything wrong, including his idea that I am an “immigrant
from Lebanon.” In fact, though born in Beirut, I have been an American
citizen all my life, and am the direct descendent of one of the founders of
Brooklyn, Jan Schenck. His house, built in 1675, is, by the way, on
display at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
Perhaps the most pathetic element of Pipes’ article is his attack on my
“immoral lifestyle.” The accusation, as I understand it, is that when I
was in university, I enjoyed smoking cigars, drinking a beer or two and
meeting girls. Guilty as charged!
I suppose I should take all of this as a compliment. After all, professional Arab-bashers would hardly go to this much trouble if the views of the Arab-American community were not reaching an ever-increasing audience with ever-increasing effectiveness.
[NOTE: when the same slanderous's Pipes column was reprinted in the Jerusalem Post, they printed the following letter from me, on August 18, 2000:
Daniel Pipes completely misrepresents my religious and political beliefs in his op-ed ("American Islamists and Lieberman," August 8) by putting me in the category of "Islamists - also known as fundamentalist Moslems." Indeed, my voice is the very first he cites among "Islamist" and "fundamentalist Moslem" perspectives in the US. This is a preposterous misrepresentation and an outright falsehood. For better or worse, not only am I not an "Islamist" or a "fundamentalist Moslem," I am not a religious man.
I work for a completely secular Arab-American organization, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), whose staff and membership includes both Christians and Moslems, and whose mission statement specifically declares it to be "non-sectarian." Pipes's mischaracterization of my political and religious stance is not a laughable error. It is a deliberate and malicious slander against the work I do on behalf of my community and my organization.
Pipes claims that "whatever their differences, however, all Islamists (which according to him includes me) have the same ambition, which is what they call the 'Islamization of America.'" Pipes is familiar with my work, and I challenge him to produce a single citation, quote, article or any other statement I have made which can be in any way construed as advocating the "Islamization of America," whatever that might be.
There is more than a touch of racism in Pipes's outrageous misrepresentation of my views. He has simply found a politically active Arab-American with a Moslem name ("Hussein") and labeled him with a whole set of beliefs, both religious and political, that are not held by him. The process whereby any politically active American born into a Moslem family or with origins in a Moslem society automatically becomes a "fundamentalist" is nothing more than raw prejudice.]