Ayaan Hirsi Ali comes to Yale

Ayaan Hirsi Ali spoke to a full house at Yale last night under the auspices of the William F. Buckley Program. The Yale Daily News reports that she spoke “without significant interruption or disturbance.”

The YDN notes the lack of disruption because Hirsi Ali’s appearance provoked the vehement opposition of the Muslim Students Association at Yale under the leadership of one Abrar Omeish. The MSA at Yale “sent a letter signed by over 30 other student organizations to all students, expressing concerns over Hirsi Ali’s lack of academic credentials to speak on Islam, as well as over the allegedly hateful anti-Islam statements that she had made in the past.”

Ms. Omeish discusses the letter in a YDN column in which she discusses her meeting with the Buckley Program in advance of Hirsi Ali’s appearance last night. According to Ms. Omeish, at the meeting she “expressed concerns about the speaker and explained how offensive many people find her commentary. I explained my view that Hirsi Ali does not have the scholarly credentials to speak on Islam and asked that the event be limited to subjects she can speak on from her personal experiences. I also requested that another speaker be included in the discussion with Hirsi Ali to provide a more balanced talk.”

Coincidentally, Andrew McCarthy’s NRO column “In search of the ‘moderate Islamists’” provides helpful context to the controversy generated by Omeish and the MSA in advance of Hirsi Ali’s appearance at Yale. Andy reminds us that the Muslim Students Association constitutes the foundation of the Muslim Brotherhood’s American infrastructure. Andy mentions in passing one Esam Omeish, a Democrat who was forced to resign from a state-government immigration panel after the emergence of videos showing his praise for “the jihad way” against Israel. Abrar Omeish is the daughter of Esam Omeish.

This is the YDN’s report on Hirsi Ali’s appearance at Yale last night:

The talk was attended by over 300 individuals, with lines to enter the auditorium stretching more than a block. While the MSA did not organize any formal demonstration during the actual event, the organization did maintain a booth outside of the lecture hall with educational leaflets about Islam.

During her speech, Hirsi Ali reiterated her views on the religion in which she was raised, focusing on her childhood and adolescence in a Muslim community in Somalia. She said she believes her experiences are relevant to the current state of Islam, which she described as violent, intolerant and in need of reform.

Growing up, Hirsi Ali said religious teachers taught her the duties of being a Muslim, such as worshipping Allah, telling the truth, looking after those in need and being obedient and modest. She said in her community, those who neglected their religious duties were never ostracized or attacked, but rather were “left alone” or “nudged gently” at most.

When she was 15, Hirsi Ali said she encountered a different kind of religious teacher — whom she referred to as a “Preacher Teacher” — who encouraged youths to enforce the religious duty of Islam and wage jihad against those who did not obey. Witnessing this process of “indoctrination,” she said, makes her statements relevant to Islam today.

Hirsi Ali added that this “indoctrination” is at the source of radical Islam and leads to intolerance and violence. Therefore, she said, in order to fight the symptoms of radical Islam, the “core creed” of Islam — the Qur’an and hadith — must be reformed. Hirsi Ali called on Muslims to listen to their consciences and stand up to Allah, rather than bending to his will.

Hirsi Ali repeated many times that the western world acts with “restraint” when dealing with conflicts of Islamic terrorism and radical groups.

“The clash is there, but what we follow up with is restraint. And restraint is what we’ve been showing for the last 30 years,” Hirsi Ali said to the audience.

Although she said she did not blame U.S. President Barack Obama for his reservations in handling situations such as the current rise of ISIS, she also spoke in favor of perceiving her former religion as “one Islam” whose core creed involves complete submission to Allah, the Islamic god that she previously deemed “fire-breathing.”

The MSA’s campus-wide letter last week announced the group’s worries over Hirsi Ali’s talk and brought attention to her history of anti-Islamic statements.

Hirsi Ali directly addressed the MSA during her speech, asking why the organization took the time and resources to “silence the reformers and dissidents of Islam,” including herself, rather than fighting against the violence, intolerance and indoctrination Hirsi Ali associates with Islam.

“MSA students of Yale, you live at a time when Muslims are at a crossroads,” she said. “The Muslim world is on fire and those fanning the fire are using more creed. With every atrocity [they underscore] your commitment to Allah … Will you submit passively or actively, or will you finally stand up to Allah?”

Hirsi Ali also responded to the MSA’s critique of her lack of academic credentials by saying that even scholars with substantial credentials who have criticized Islam have been “bullied into silence.”

The bullying into silence or, failing that, the stigmatization of Ms. Ali as requiring special rules to govern her appearance, was of course the whole point of the MSA production all along. The YDN reports:

The MSA declined to comment, pointing instead to previous statements made in the email to students, which articulated concern and disappointment over Hirsi Ali’s invitation, but ultimately conveyed hope that the discussion would be constructive and respectful.

Still, individual Muslim students interviewed expressed a variety of reactions to Hirsi Ali’s talk, but declined to attribute their names out of fear of retribution. Some said Hirsi Ali’s presence made them feel uncomfortable being on campus, and others felt that Hirsi Ali’s talk invalidated their experiences as Muslims.

I’m not clear what the unnamed Muslm students mean by “invalidation” of their experiences as Muslims. When the religion demands the “submission” to which Hirsi Ali alluded in her remarks, however, you can see how she might indeed be the great invalidator.

Islamist sympathizing advisor finally gets the boot from DHS

In 2010, the Obama administration appointed Mohamed Elibiary to DHS’ Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC). It reappointed him in 2013 with the upgraded title of senior fellow.

Last week, however, DHS let Elibiary go. Given Elibiary’s record, I would like to think that his sacking was over-determined. But given the Obama administration’s affinity for Elibiary’s bizarre views about Islamic radicals, we’re probably lucky that Elibiary won’t be staying on.

The Washington Free Beacon identifies two possible reasons why Elibiary had to go. The first is his record of sympathetic comments about radical Islamists.

Elibiary has said on twitter that America is “an Islamic country with an Islamically compliant constitution.” He has also opined that the Muslim Brotherhood poses no threat to the United States.

The rise of ISIS also seems not have bothered Elibiary. In his view, the “return” of a Muslim caliphate was “inevitable.” This comment drew praise from affiliates of ISIS.

It was enough to make one wag wonder whose homeland Elibiary wants to secure.

Are Elibiary’s views antithetical to the Obama administration’s? Maybe. But Elibiary’s loss of his perch on the Homeland Security Advisory Council seems to have more to do with allegations that he was involved in inappropriate disclosure of sensitive law enforcement documents.

The essence of these allegations is that Elibiary improperly accessed classified documents from a secure site and may have attempted to pass them to reporters. The DHS maintains that it investigated the allegations against Elibiary and found no wrongdoing.

However, Judicial Watch says that the response by DHS to a request for documents pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act indicates that a proper investigation into Elibiary’s actions never took place. Judicial Watch requested documents pertaining to DHS’s alleged investigation. DHS responded that no such documents were found.

It seems likely that DHS cut Elibiary loose in the hope that members of Congress who have been pressing it about the alleged investigation will move on.

The apparent lack of an investigation by DHS into Elibiary’s alleged security breach remains interesting even with Elibiary gone. But the big question is how a guy with such obvious sympathy for Islamic radicals could hold down a position on DHS’ Homeland Security Advisory Council for all these years.

The answer, I think, is that his views are not antithetical to those of the Obama administration. Obama himself has been quite sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood, which he seems to consider the wave of the future in the Middle East. And he was untroubled by the expansion of ISIS (the “jayvee”) until very recently.

I guess we should be grateful that Team Obama didn’t place Jeremiah Wright on the HSAC.

Democratic Party Media Run Interference for Hillary

Sarah Palin vs. Hillary Clinton: whom do you think the Democratic Party media prefers? Don’t worry, that isn’t a trick question. Still, no matter how reporters and editors may feel about the two women, it is obvious which one is more newsworthy. Sarah Palin served one-half of one term as Governor of Alaska. While she was, of course, the Republican vice-presidential nominee in 2008, she is not now, and most likely will not be in the future, a candidate for public office. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is not only a former First Lady, Senator from New York and Secretary of State, she is said to be the odds-on favorite to be the next president of the United States.

So by any normal journalistic standard, it is far more important to inform the public about Hillary Clinton than Sarah Palin, especially as to matters that may bear on Clinton’s fitness for the nation’s highest office. That being the case, the Democratic Party media’s frenzy over a supposed brawl in Wasilla, Alaska, that involved the Palin family is revealing. Even though, as John Nolte points out, the source of information about the altercation was a left-wing blogger who is viciously hostile to Palin and who freely acknowledged that she hadn’t tried to “track down the details of the brawl,” supposedly mainstream news outlets couldn’t get enough of the Palin story. This screen shot shows that the search “Palin brawl” generates almost 86,000 results:

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 7.45.35 PM

OK, that’s unseemly, but maybe it was just a slow news day, right? Just kidding. Meanwhile, another story has emerged: an eyewitness report by a former high-ranking State Department official who said that he observed Hillary Clinton’s representatives removing damaging documents from the supposedly comprehensive materials they provided to the Benghazi Accountability Review Board. This story would seem to be the ultimate bombshell: it involves the person who, according to conventional wisdom, will likely be the next president; it relates to the biggest scandal of her public career, in which four Americans, including an ambassador, died; and it reflects directly on her honesty and fitness for office. By rights, this story should receive roughly one million times the coverage of the Palin brawl in Wasilla.

So far, though, that hasn’t happened. The Democratic Party media, desperate to protect their party’s presumed nominee, have tried to bury the story. The Google News search “Clinton state department benghazi documents” returns a mere 2,060 results, about one forty-third the number of articles devoted to the Palin altercation:

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 7.54.20 PM

And note what outlets have reported on the Benghazi document scandal: not the New York Times, the Washington Post or the Associated Press, but Fox News, Human Events, Daily Caller, Paul’s Power Line post earlier today, and–somewhat ironically–London’s Daily Mail. This may be another instance where we have to read the British papers to get American news. Here, the exception proves the rule: Media Matters is the only Democratic Party organization to talk about the Clinton document allegations, and it tries to debunk them.

Maybe the liberal press hasn’t had time yet to pick up on Sharyl Attkisson’s report on former Deputy Assistant Secretary Raymond Maxwell’s allegations, which appeared early this morning. Of course, it didn’t take them that long to jump on the Palin story. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. We will be watching the Democratic Party press over the next few days to see whether its appetite for first-hand, eyewitness accounts of dishonesty by Hillary Clinton and her agents equals its thirst for rumors about Alaska’s former governor.

Is Pelosi a GOP Plant?

Like the email John mentions below, there are ample other reasons to wonder about Nancy Pelosi’s probity. I’ve always heard that she is very skillful at the back-room aspects of party management in the House, and she better be, because when she opens her mouth to speak, you can expect a disaster that could make even John Kerry cringe.

Last Friday on Bill Maher’s HBO “comedy” show, she said, “Civilization as we know it today would be in jeopardy if the Republicans win the Senate.” If you can bear to watch nine minutes of Pelosi and Maher, here’s the tape:

But wait, there’s more! Last week she sent out the following tweet:

Pelosi Taxes copy

Apparently Pelosi has never heard of people moving to Tennessee, Texas, or Nevada (among others) to reduce their income taxes.

Really—is it possible that Pelosi is actually a deep-cover Republican plant, just emerging now to do her maximum damage to Democrats?

DON’T SEND THAT EMAIL

That was the subject heading on the Democrats’ latest fund-raising missive, possibly their most hysterical yet. Today’s email is the latest in a long series; some of the most recent were headed “They’re 100% sure we’ll lose,” “please don’t say no john” and “John, we’re PLEADING.” Democrats know no shame. This is how DON’T SEND THAT EMAIL begins:

From: alert@dccc.org [mailto:dccc@dccc.org]
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2014 10:05 AM
To: Hinderaker, John H.
Subject: DON’T SEND THAT EMAIL

John, there was a lot of discussion about whether we should send you this email. After much debate, we decided to let you know the hard truth. Here it is:

After “John, we’re PLEADING,” they expect us to believe that they debated whether to send this email?

There’s no good news in this email.

The Koch Brothers are crushing Democrats with their unlimited, secret money.

Despite that ritual reference to Charles and David Koch, all the numbers I have seen indicate that the Democrats are outspending the GOP this election cycle, as usual.

Now some are predicting Boehner will win the largest Republican majority in decades.

We’ll be blunt: President Obama’s final 2 years are at stake. And right now…it’s not looking good.

If we’re going to avoid disaster, we can’t afford to fail ONCE between now and Election Day.

John — we need your help before tonight’s do-or-die mid-month fundraising deadline.

“Do-or-die mid-month fundraising deadline”? There is no FEC deadline in mid-September.

We need 13,658 more donations TODAY if we want any shot at giving President Obama a Democratic House for his final two years.

We’re pleading, John. Can you step up for the President right now?

MIDNIGHT DEADLINE: ALL GIFTS MATCHED!

Thanks,

DCCC

You might think that Nancy Pelosi and her minions would be embarrassed to send out such groveling appeals. But, as Mick Jagger once said in a completely different context, they don’t embarrass easy.

Report: “Queen” Clinton’s “henchmen” scrubbed Benghazi documents

Raymond Maxwell was the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Maghreb (North Africa) Affairs at the State Department’s Bureau of Near East Affairs from 2011-2012. When Hillary Clinton removed him from this position and placed him on leave in the aftermath of the Benghazi attacks, Maxwell wrote a poem called “Invitation” which we posted here. The “invitation” as the poem made clear, was to “lynching” and it came from the “henchmen” of “the Queen” (Hillary Clinton).

Now, Maxwell is back in the news, and this time not for poetry. Maxwell tells Sharyl Attkisson that Hillary Clinton’s henchmen were part of an operation to “separate” damaging material before documents were turned over to the Accountability Review Board investigating security lapses in connection with the Benghazi attacks.

The alleged weeding out of documents took place during a weekend in a basement operations-type center at State Department headquarters in Washington, says Maxwell. He received no “invitation” to this event, but “heard about it and decided to check it out on a Sunday afternoon.” At this point, he had not yet been scapegoated for Benghazi.

When Maxwell arrived, he noticed boxes and stacks of documents. A State Department office director who, according to Maxwell was close to Clinton’s top advisers, was present. Although technically this office director worked for him, Maxwell says she didn’t consult with him about her weekend assignment.

Here’s what happened next, according to what Maxwell told Attkisson:

[The office director] told me, “Ray, we are to go through these stacks and pull out anything that might put anybody in the [Near Eastern Affairs] front office or the seventh floor [where Clinton and her principal advisors worked] in a bad light. I asked her, “But isn’t that unethical?” She responded, “Ray, those are our orders.”

A few minutes later, says Maxwell, two high-ranking State Department officials entered the room. The two have been identified by Rep. Josh Chaffetz as Cheryl Mills and Jake Sullivan — the leading henchmen at the Queen’s disposal. Mills, who first came to prominence defending Bill Clinton during his impeachment, was not pleased to see Maxwell:

“Who are you?” [Mills snapped]. Jake explained, “That’s Ray Maxwell, an NEA Deputy Assistant Secretary.” She conceded, “Well, OK.”

The Accountability Review Board has been criticized for, among other things, a lack of thoroughness. Its co-chairmen have countered by claiming that they had “unfettered access to everyone and everything including all the documentation we needed.” But Maxwell’s account, if true, shows that the ARB’s access was not “unfettered.”

Maxwell’s allegations are of obvious interest to the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Attkisson reports that Trey Gowdy, the chairman of that body, has already interviewed Maxwell.

Josh Chaffetz, who has also spoken to Maxwell, tells Attkisson that his allegations “go to the heart of the integrity of the State Department” and “are as serious as it gets.” He adds that they have been “followed up and pursued.”

That can’t be good news for the Queen.

Is ISIS really a threat to U.S. security?

Two articles in the Washington Post raise a question worth considering: how much of a threat does ISIS actually pose to the U.S.? The question has two components. First, how threatening is ISIS by virtue of what it can do in the Middle East; second, how much of a threat is ISIS by virtue of what it can do within the U.S. homeland?

As to the first question, Ramzy Mardini of the Atlantic Council argues that ISIS finds itself isolated and encircled by hostile forces — Shiite militias to the East, mobilized Kurds to the North, the Syrian regime and Jordan to the West. According to Mardini, ISIS’s expansionist days are over.

As to the second question, Post reporters Greg Miller and Juliet Eilperin point out that President Obama’s description of ISIS as a threat to the homeland “leaned heavily on what-ifs.” They note, as does Mardini (and as I have), that ISIS has seemed focused on establishing a caliphate in the Levant rather than on committing acts of terrorism in the U.S.

Both the Post reporters (citing Paul Pillar) and Mardini worry that U.S. military action against ISIS will prompt these terrorists to target the U.S. in revenge. This danger might increase if ISIS stalls in the Levant, as Mardini predicts it will.

Given these considerations, does it make sense to wage war (or whatever it is Obama says we’re waging) against ISIS? I think so.

Mardini may well be right that ISIS has peaked as an expansionist force. But, though he points to problems ISIS likely will face within its “caliphate,” he is careful not to say that it will be rolled back any time soon if the U.S. does not intervene militarily.

One can debate the wisdom of U.S. military intervention — even if confined largely to bombing — for the geopolitical purpose of rolling back ISIS. For interventionists decisively to win the debate, there needs to be a direct homeland security justification for fighting ISIS.

I think there is. It’s true that ISIS is focused on the Levant. But it has also talked about attacking the U.S. and Europe. Talk is cheap, but considering the stakes, it’s unwise to ignore what well-organized, well-financed terrorists say about their intentions.

Moreover, ISIS’s threats aren’t just talk. One of its torturers killed four people in an attack in a Jewish museum in Belgium. And an ISIS fighter arrested in France possessed a stockpile of explosives.

But will a successful military campaign against ISIS diminish this sort of threat? I believe so based on the following analysis:

First, the threat ISIS poses to the homeland comes primarily from ISIS fighters holding European and (especially) American passports. The more of these there are, the greater the threat to the homeland.

Second, these passports holders are flocking to ISIS primarily because it has succeeded in establishing a caliphate and, more generally, appears to be the answer to the dreams of Islamists everywhere. As Miller and Eilperin point out, the CIA estimates that ISIS’s ranks doubled, or possibly even tripled, following its successes in Iraq.

Third, if ISIS is “degraded and destroyed” the flow of foreign fighters presumably will stop. Its caliphate will no longer be an attraction. And, of course, ISIS’s existing force will be decimated.

Fourth, if ISIS is not “degraded and destroyed,” it will continue to attract recruits from Europe and the U.S. And if it is contained, as Mardini reasonably predicts will happen, it likely will turn its gaze to Europe and the U.S.

Against these considerations, we must weigh the possibility of revenge attacks on the U.S. The “revenge” argument, though superficially plausible, overlooks the fact that, from the radical Islamist perspective, the U.S. has already committed more than enough offenses to avenge.

Keep in mind that ISIS started out as “al Qaeda in Iraq.” The U.S. helped rout this outfit in 2007. More broadly, we have been in Iraq, killing Islamists and others, since 2003. And we have already killed ISIS members as part of our recent bombing in Northern Iraq. The grievances of radical Islamists against us are legion.

Keep in mind too that fanatical outfits like ISIS don’t require current instances of U.S. military action to feel aggrieved. No then-current use of U.S. force prompted the 9/11 attacks. They were ideologically-based. At root, ISIS is driven by the same fanatical ideology as al Qaeda, from which it sprang.

Mardini argues, foolishly I think, that ISIS has focused on the Levant rather than on the U.S. because of Obama’s “restraint” in the Middle East. In reality, as Mardini argues at length elsewhere in his article, ISIS focused on the Levant out of opportunism. The Syrian civil war, the abuses of Maliki in Iraq, and Obama’s abdication (which Mardini calls “restraint’) provided ISIS with an enormous opportunity for vast territorial expansion.

Naturally, ISIS took advantage of the opportunity. We should not believe for a minute that this means ISIS fighters won’t terrorize the U.S. now that the caliphate is established.