Washington Gadfly

CAIR Disavows Sirhan Sirhan

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Evan Gahr Investigative Journalist

CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper last night quickly pushed back with wit and verve against suggestions that his group might donate to the DNC in honor of the Palestinian who assassinated Bobby Kennedy in 1968. After all, why would the Dems reject such an offering now that they just accepted a donation in memory of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg?

Regardless, it is a scary day for Washington when the chief propagandist for the Hamas agitprop group that passes itself off as a Muslim civil rights organization proves more honest and revealing than anybody else since this column started.

With the exception of none other than Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery, literally everybody else mocked has been too cowardly to respond publicly. But just under two hours after the Rosenbergs story was published Hooper sent an email with the subject header “not very good for ‘investigative reporter’.”

“You didn’t know that Sirhan Sirhan is Christian, eh,” Hooper wrote, quoting the Wikipedia entry that Sirhan “was born into a Palestinian Christian family in Jerusalem, Mandatory Palestine.”

Actually, I did know that.

That is why I did not say Sirhan is Muslim; even though doing so would have made the story stronger.  Unlike Washington Post reporter Janell Ross I do not knowingly publish falsehoods.

Regardless, Hooper’s rejoinder is kind of funny. And using the single quotes around “investigative reporter” turns the tables on me. Contrast that with WaPo reporter Wesley Lowery sputtered in an email last month demanding a retraction that I had wrongly called him “an obscure affirmative action hire” until his supposed wrongful arrest in Ferguson. Or “Rachel Maddow Show” producer Steve Benen, to paraphrase lefty journalist Alexander Cockburn, huffing and puffing like an elderly walrus as he contended that The Daily Caller is not a legitimate news publication.  

Benen, of course, recently hung up when asked to defend his assertion.

But why is Hooper suddenly so determined to distance himself from Sirhan? After all, in 1982 Sirhan suggested to an interview, he is the victim of discrimination and argued Bobby Kennedy would support his parole. If CAIR is a civil rights organization shouldn’t they support people of other religions and ethnicity whose rights are supposedly violated? Like the way the Anti-Defamation League does?

Sirhan, serving a life sentence but with the possibility of parole at a San Diego federal prison, claims he is innocent despite being caught with the gun in his hand in front of hundreds of people. If he converted to Islam would they champion his “cause?”

Would CAIR want Sirhan to speak via closed circuit from prison to one of their star-studded banquets? Is he any less deplorable than other previous guests? Like Imam Siraj Wahhaj, an unindicted  co-conspirator for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and character witness for the Blind Sheik.

If you think all this is just comic exaggeration consider the following: In 1968, the late Arab-American activist M.T. Mehdi, a slick propagandist like Hooper, actually wrote a book that tried to rationalize Sirhan killing Kennedy. “Sirhan was defending himself against those 50 Phantom jets Kennedy was sending to Israel.”

Meanwhile, I am determined to find more common ground with Hooper.  And very optimistic we can bridge our differences. Like Barack Obama, I believe there are no good or bad players in this world. And every conflict can be solved through the sheer magnetism of my personality.

I have invited myself over to CAIR’s Washington headquarters on Monday to chat with Hooper while I inspect his group’s 990 form.  Under IRS regulation, public inspections are required even if the form is available online; maximum $25,000 fine for non-compliance.

Pretty hefty; CAIR presumably does not want to blow a hole in their budget. In case Sirhan converts and they need to earmark a generous DNC donation for him.

Hooper has not yet responded to the entreaty. But it is a safe bet that when reached on the phone he won’t hang up like almost everybody else.

Stay tuned.