One of the first responses to my last Ibishblog posting, which was about the anti-Arab hate-speech website Ikhras, was a tweet by a gentleman who, to put it kindly, is best known for his uncomfortable relationship with words. He seemed intimidated by its (modest) length, and urged me to keep my postings under 8,000 words (it was not over 3,000, in fact). So, for the attention deficit disorder set, I'll repeat my concerns in bullet point fashion:
This is an anonymous site, which means it has no credibility or seriousness.
Nonetheless, the fact that they have launched vicious an highly personal attacks on an exceptionally broad range of Arab-American groups and targets shows they are opposed to any effort, from any perspective, to purposefully engage with the rest of our society.
This range of targets precisely mimics those of most anti-Arab and Islamophobic groups, raising serious questions about the motives of these anonymous bloggers.
Everyone has to ask who these people are and what they are hiding.
There is the further issue of who, if anyone, pays for this site in any way, even indirectly.
No matter how marginal Ikhras no doubt is and will remain, these questions should now be asked, especially given the absurdly wide range of Arab and Muslim American targets of their hate speech.
Those are the main points. As a side note, I directly asked my former co-author, Ali Abunimah, who is one of the few people Ikhras openly likes, if he was involved with the site in any way. I have to ask this publically since years ago he cut off all direct communications with me. He tweeted that he has no knowledge of or involvement with Ikhras, though he does not say whether or not any of his writing has ever appeared there. Ikhras issued a similar comment. Without any other verifiable facts, I am happy to take him at his word, and I assume that his comment also implies, though it does not state, that he has never written for Ikhras either. As I pointed out in my posting, the reason I asked outright is that every single person I know who has considered the issue suspected he might well have been involved with it in some way, and that includes both people who like and do not like him. As far as I am concerned, unless further information comes to light, this puts a minor side-issue to rest, and I made that clear on twitter as soon as he made his comment.
Of course that leaves us with all major questions totally unanswered. We still have no idea who these people are, who supports them (if anyone), or what their real agenda or motives might be. It's exceptionally revealing that some people took raising the very question of someone's possible involvement with Ikhras to be an "attack." That tells you all you need to know about the site: it's deeply threatening even to ask the question if someone is involved with it or not. No wonder the authors and editors are anonymous if this is the reaction to someone being asked whether or not they are involved with it. Ali's reaction and others clearly shows that it would be a huge embarrassment at the very least to be known to be associated with it, so much so that even the question is apparently some kind of affront. As a former ADC staffer, I am sometimes misidentified as someone who used to work for AAI or CAIR or other Arab or Muslim American groups, but I do not take offense. It is a good barometer of how low this discourse is happy to sink that one of its main defenders on twitter — naturally yet another anonymous writer, quite possibly (if not probably) involved in some way with Ikhras — made disgusting "jokes" about the Arab-American comedian Maysoon Zayid, who has cerebral palsy, being "lame."
In addition to pointing out how much this overwrought reaction demonstrates about the nature and role of Ikhras, I would also note that if anyone is annoyed that I ask people if they are involved with it or not, clearly the proper place to lodge complaints about that is not with me, but with Ikhras. Is it not completely obvious that by working so hard to remain anonymous while viciously attacking almost all noted Arab and Muslim American groups and individuals, it is Ikhras itself that not only invites but ensures this kind of speculation? I do not know anyone at all who is aware of Ikhras — whether sympathetic, hostile or neutral (not a lot in the third camp, I grant) — who has not wondered aloud and at some length about the unavoidable question: who are these people and why are they acting like this? If they signed their names to their own ghastly writings like normal human beings, no one would be forced to speculate. But since they will not, that is inevitable. It is yet another consequence of their own cowardly decision to hide behind an elaborate veil of secrecy. If people do not like those inevitable consequences, they should hold them to account for it, not anyone else.
The bottom-line is that the scoundrels at Ikhras have done a lot in the past 24 hours to add to the bill of particulars building against them in all sane elements of the Arab and Muslim American communities. They have pledged to continue their malignant activities and I have no doubt that they will. But let me repeat my conclusion from yesterday, only with more reason and force than ever: if and when their identities are revealed or discovered, and they are as they claim Arab Americans, the community should neither forgive nor forget their conduct but hold them, their friends and allies, and patrons (if any), responsible for it.