Inept or ignorant?
Published April 7, 2004
The Democratic Party, which gave America the proud legacies of men like Harry Truman and Henry "Scoop" Jackson, is poised to nominate for president a man who either doesn't understand the struggle against radical Islam or blindly went trolling for votes from a radical Islamic organization.
In December, when John Kerry was badly trailing Howard Dean, the Massachusetts senator spoke at the annual convention of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), an anti-Semitic organization that has defended infamous terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah. Addressing the Long Beach, Calif., audience by phone, Mr. Kerry told the crowd that he "really want to earn support of Muslim leaders across the United States." Mr. Kerry appealed to the crowd by strongly implying that the Bush administration is not protecting the First Amendment rights of Muslims. "I believe this administration is moving our country in a radically wrong direction and is cynically exploiting people in the country and has forgotten some of the heart of the Constitution of the United States of America," he said during his speech.
Mr. Kerry's words, though not justified by facts or any reasonable interpretation of reality, are not the primary problem. His willingness to address the group in the first place is. No presidential candidate should lend legitimacy to a group with MPAC's track record.
On the day of the September 11 attacks, MPAC's executive director and co-founder, Salam Al-Marayati, wasted no time launching into an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, saying on KCRW-FM's "Which Way, L.A.?" program that "we should put the state of Israel on the suspect list." MPAC has also defended the actions of terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah. Mr. Al-Marayati, at a speech at the University of Pennsylvania in 1997, lauded Hamas' "social and educational operations" and downplayed what he called "its quote unquote military operations." In a 1998 speech at the National Press Club, MPAC Senior Adviser Maher Hathout claimed that Hezbollah merely fights for the "American values" of "freedom and liberty."
It's possible, of course, that Mr. Kerry's campaign had no idea about the true nature of MPAC. But given the group's notoriety, particularly among many in Los Angeles, how could the Kerry staff have been so careless?
The other alternative is far worse. We don't suspect that Mr. Kerry shares any of MPAC's repugnant views. But knowing the ugly truth about MPAC and speaking there anyway would not be much better. We hope for Mr. Kerry's sake that his campaign staff were simply completely inept.