Lantos, Emerson and Pipes 

By Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute


There is an old joke that goes like this:  How do you know when a politician is lying?  His lips are moving.  There is a certain type of politician, however, who goes in for the really Big Lie.  A lie so monumentally false that is more than untrue, it is a complete inversion of the truth.  Hitler’s propagandist Josef Goebbles made the strategy famous.  Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), a Holocaust survivor currently employing this strategy to bolster support for the Israeli apartheid state’s persecution of the Palestinians.

Lantos, it should be recalled was the Congressman who dismissed Laila al-Maryati’s minority-of-one report on Israeli oppression of Muslims and Christians with a self-incriminating remark about people who can’t distinguish between security measures and oppression.  (Somewhere in Hell, Goebbles’ eternal torment is compounded now by the realization that he persecuted such an excellent student.)  But that was just a warm-up act for Mr. Lantos.  Lantos’ office has been flooded with calls from irate Muslims since he alleged that Arafat signed the Oslo accords without ever meaning to keep them, and asserted that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) signed the treaty of Hudaybiyat without ever meaning to keep it!

There is more to this than the historical falsehood of ignoring the fact that it was the polytheists, not the Muslims, who broke the treaty of Hudaybiyat.  The sinister irony is that it is Israel that has not only failed to meet deadline after deadline, but even ignored international law, both U.N. resolutions and the Geneva Conventions throughout the process.

For two years the young Muslim community faithfully kept the Treaty of Hudaybiyat.  Similarly, for seven years (long past the five-year deadline for final status negotiations) the Palestinians stood by the great concession of the Oslo accords, recognizing the state of Israel, abandoning any claim to sovereignty over 78% of their land.  They did this in the hope that Israel would fulfill its pledge to withdraw from the other 22% and confront the final status issues.

Lantos’ contempt for history is such that he characterizes the Prophet’s actions with regard to the Treaty of Hudaybiyat as “treacherous.”  The historical facts are that the Treaty of Hudaybiyat was broken by allies of the Quraish; that even after the Treaty was broken, the Messenger of God declared a four-month immunity before any action would be taken against the guilty tribes and their allies; that the Treaty was not dissolved with those who had maintained good faith with the Muslims.  On top of all that, when the four-month immunity was over and he entered Mecca at the head of an army 10,000 strong, Muhammad granted a general amnesty to his defeated enemies.

This, Mr. Lantos, perversely calls “treachery.”   Ah, the irony.  It is the Israelis who treacherously continue to violate U.N. Resolutions and the Geneva conventions, and it is with the aid of Mr. Lantos’ efforts that the U.S. Congress continues to reward them with billions of dollars in annual aid for their treachery.

But politicians need the aid of professional propagandists. Continuing aid to Israel at a time when a war criminal is its prime minister is no easy task.  Passing legislation like the secret evidence provisions of the Counter-Terrorism Act in a country as committed to liberty and due process as is America can’t be done without the aid of the likes of Steven Emerson.  Emerson’s well-timed (albeit absurd) claim that the Oklahoma City bombing was a “Middle Eastern” act of terrorism served its purpose in whipping up the necessary frenzy of hatred and fear to pass the Counter-terrorism Act.  Although the terrorism inflicted on the country by Timothy McVeigh was real, the Counter-terrorism Act was a false prophylactic.  Its secret evidence provisions could not be used against American citizens like McVeigh.  The real targets of the act are immigrants, primarily immigrants from Muslim countries.

Propagandists need allies too.  Goebbles depended on the intellectuals of the eugenics movement to lend credibility to his ranting against “inferior” peoples.  Emerson’s repeated bungling in his attacks on American Muslims severely eroded his credibility until an academician came to his rescue.  After Emerson’s excesses in propagandizing had been exposed one too many times, and American newspaper editors began to shy away from printing any more of his screeds, Emerson accused them of caving in to “Muslim terrorists.”  (Did he mean the Muslim and other activists and intellectuals who had exposed his false allegations?)  Emerson found his academic defender in Dr. Daniel Pipes, who published Emerson’s allegations of cowardliness in the media. 

Now, Dr. Pipes has coauthored a piece with Mr. Emerson in The Wall Street Journal using McCarthyite tactics of drawing a chain of guilt by association that begins with groups identified with the killing of civilians and ends with an intellectual who stands against state-sponsored terrorism and the persecution of innocents.  I will reserve my comments on that article for a piece written for The Wall Street Journal, but readers of this column will be interested in the following exchange between Dr. Pipes and myself.


In a previous article for Islamonline, (Ahmad 2001) I noted that just one month before Jamil Al-Amin was charged with the crime of cop-killing under very suspicious circumstances, Dr. Pipes had published an article in National Review identifying Imam Jamil as part of an emerging threat to America in that he had characterized the U.S. Constitution as being "in its main essence, diametrically opposed to what Allah has commanded." Dr. Pipes sent me an e-mail inquiry asking that I either explain the connection between the two events or make a clarification in a future column that I made a mistake.


Here is my clarification, as I informed Dr. Pipes that I would make it: My article was about the climate of hate and fear against Muslims provoking persecutions such as those in the instant case, e.g., a police department tampering with evidence in order to insure that a member of the vilified group be convicted on a charge for which the actual evidence seems, shall we say, questionable.  The only connection between these events and the National Review article of which I have knowledge is that the latter is an example of a type of article that fosters such a climate.  That article was especially apropos for a discussion of the disconcerting circumstances surrounding the arrest and prosecution of Jamil al-Amin because the National Review article targeted him for a statement which he has a constitutional right to make, notwithstanding any disagreement Dr. Pipes or I may have with that statement.


As a Muslim I am very sensitive to how some people take our words out of context to give them a sinister hue that was never intended, so I certainly wouldn’t want to be guilty of that same error, however inadvertently.  I have invited Dr. Pipes to follow my example:  “In making your call ‘to awaken Americans to this still incipient, but rapidly growing problem’ (exemplified by your quote from Imam Jamil) were you implying he should be held in suspicion of any illegal or violent intentions or activities for having expressed such a belief?  If so, please explain why he may not have been rather expressing a desire to see the Constitution amended or changed by other peaceful means (as he seems to be saying on p. 130 of Revolution by the Book)?  If not, then could you do the Muslim community a favor by publishing a clarification in the National Review that the ‘problem’ you seek to address is a philosophical challenge rather than a security issue.”


Dr. Pipes has responded: “As for my wish ‘to awaken Americans to this still incipient, but rapidly growing problem,’ this is a clear reference to the ‘kind of ideology’ that I discussed in the article – namely, one that turns American converts to Islam against their country.  I think it is self-evident that, as you put it, that I am discussing ‘a philosophical challenge rather than a security issue,’ but if you would like me to make that point explicitly, I would be happy to do so.”  He did not directly answer my request that he publish his clarification in the National Review saying only that he doubted they would print a clarification so long after the fact.


I leave to the reader to sort out whether Dr. Pipes is saying that Imam Jamil’s “ideology” is or is not a security threat.  However, his collaboration with Emerson in The Wall Street Journal leaves no room for doubt that he wants the government to shut down the “World and Islam Studies Enterprise” headed by University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian using “a 1996 law,” i.e. the Counter-terrorism Act.  (Even though Prof. Al-Arian is an American citizen, the Act was strangely made retroactive to the date Prof. Al-Arian obtained his citizenship!)  Dr. Pipes’ articles may have no direct connection to the persecution of Muslims, but their connection to the climate of hate and fear behind those persecutions is unmistakable. 


I am reminded of Louis Farrakhan’s famous statement just before the assassination of Malcolm X to the effect that that Malcolm deserved to die.  Farrakhan also insisted that it was not his intention that Malcolm be assassinated, but Farrakhan at least had the decency to apologize for contributing to the climate of hatred.


Ahmad, Imad-ad-Dean 2001.  “Jamil al-Amin Framed?” 7/25/2001 (last accessed 8/15/2001).