ACT! for America has a problem. Its first problem is that it was founded by Brigitte Gabriel. Yes, the same Brigitte Gabriel the New York Times called a “radical Islamophobe” and who in the past has made statements like “Arabs have no soul,” and “Arabs are barbarians.” She might be novel eye candy for some (which I’m guessing is the reason Bill Maher had her on his show) but it is clear that Brigitte Gabriel is a whacked out fundamentalist with a seething rage against Muslims and a determination on the one hand to destroy Islam and on the other to make as much profit in the process.
The other problem with ACT! is that it is an organization filled with the types of people we see at Tea Party rallies. You know the ones who dress up in late 18th century regalia a la George Washington or carry around posters about Obama being a Kenyan, or Hitler, or Joker or a Marxist Mooslim anti-Christ coming to change America from a Christian nation into the Soviet Union.
The ACT! for America scheme essentially boils down to an organization masquerading as a “defender of Western Civilization” akin to the claims of other Islamophobes such as Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller. They have a binary view of the world, the Bush mantra of “you’re either with us or against us.”
Brigitte Gabriel pretentiously declares on the ACT! site, “I founded this organization to give Americans their voice back…” Brigitte, Americans never lost their “voice,” unless the “voice” you want to give back is the Jim Crow voice that unleashed the dogs and water hoses on Southern blacks fighting for civil rights and against White racism because that is the historical parallel which fits into your rhetoric.
Those White racists were saying the same thing Brigitte is saying today, that we need to “defend Western civilization.” To the White racists of the South, Western civilization equaled White and Christian. Today Brigitte claims a bigger tent though it is bigoted just the same, to her Western Civilization equals Judeo-Christian and de facto excludes any Muslim.
ACT! is an organization shot through and through with Christian fundamentalists. That is why at many of their events one will see a Christian missionary preaching the Gospel while other ACT! custodians will be passing out anti-Islam literature.
In this video a representative for a Florida Chapter of ACT! for America spews his hate filled beliefs about Islam. He brags about using the Quran as toilet paper and urinating in Muslim ablution sinks (starts at 45 seconds):
I guess that is defending Western Civilization for you. The original user (an ACT! member) who put up the above video on YouTube has removed it. Obviously realizing that it hurts their credibility, but luckily someone else downloaded it.
Also in Florida where they seem to be the most active, ACT! for America chapters were angered at the appointment of Parvez Ahmed to Jacksonville’s Human Rights Commission. They couldn’t countenance a Muslim being appointed to anything in an official capacity (even though 90% of them probably believe that Barack Obama is a Mooslim). So they began a campaign to smear Parvez, saying he was filled with Taqiyyah, that he was a terrorist, a terrorist supporter, etc. To do so they brought up his time as an employee with CAIR. ACT! members falsely held the belief that they could shout “CAIR!” and it would be enough to stop the train and ruin someones career and reputation.
An anti-Muslim organization is lobbying Jacksonville City Council members to vote against confirming a University of North Florida professor to the city’s Human Rights Commission.
Parvez Ahmed, who is Muslim, was appointed to the voluntary advisory board by Mayor John Peyton and recommended for confirmation by the council Rules Committee. A vote on his confirmation is scheduled to occur at Tuesday’s council meeting.
The group ACT! for America caught wind of his appointment last week and e-mailed a 20-page report Friday accusing Ahmed of having ties to extremist groups through his service on the board of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“When it comes to a human rights commissioner, Jacksonville can do better than this nomination,” said Randy McDaniels, leader of ACT’s Jacksonville chapter.
The mayor’s office and some City Council members dispute the organizations’ claims and said there is no proof Ahmed has radical ties. Deputy General Counsel Cindy Laquidara will attend Tuesday’s council meeting to answer questions about Ahmed’s background.
Councilman John Crescimbeni, who initially suggested Ahmed to the mayor’s office for a nomination, said the group and its last-minute claims against the professor have no credibility.
“In fact, I checked out some of those allegations made in the original e-mail that came out last Friday,” Crescimbeni said. “It looked like a cut and paste job. It’s pure hate on their part.”
Crescimbeni said Ahmed, who is a Fulbright Scholar with decades of public service under his belt, would be an asset to the Human Rights Commission.
“I can’t think of a better person to serve on that commission than him,” he said. “He is the guy that’s all about peace, and he’s all about getting along.”
Council President Richard Clark said Ahmed’s appointment is currently included on the consent agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, meaning it would be approved quickly with several other items. However, he said, any council member can request that it be taken off the consent agenda and discussed separately.
“I have no intention of pulling it,” Clark said. “If people felt that strongly about it, they should have spoken up long before the confirmation process at Rules.”
McDaniels said ACT learned of Ahmed’s nomination after media reports surfaced about the Rules Committee vote and Councilman Clay Yarborough’s questioning of the professor’s opinion on separation of church and state and gay marriage.
Yarborough voted to recommend the professor after receiving responses he considered satisfactory, but he now says the ACT report has given him pause. He said he wants to know more about its claims before deciding whether he will vote for Ahmed’s confirmation.
“If need be, I will adamantly oppose confirmation of his appointment on the floor tomorrow if there are established links here that are of concern,” Yarborough said Monday.
The ACT report ties Council on American-Islamic Relations to extremists because it was listed as one of 300 unindicted co-conspirators in a Department of Justice terrorism financing trial. That matter ended in mistrial, and CAIR was never accused of wrongdoing.
McDaniels’ group offered no evidence that Ahmed had directly attempted to support terrorist groups.
The mayor’s office is standing by its decision to nominate Ahmed to the Human Rights Commission, saying it conducted the same criminal background and reference checks as all other nominees to a board or commission.
Ahmed said the scrutiny he has experienced in recent days has not deterred him from wanting to serve on the commission, but he worries about the message it is sending.
“I am afraid other qualified individuals may be discouraged to pursue public service,” he said. “Hate groups like ACT do not belong in our Democratic process.”
Councilman Art Shad, who is chairman of the Rules Committee, expressed the same concern and said the next two weeks will be important for the City Council as Ahmed and two others come up for confirmation to the Human Rights Commission.
“We want to be very careful in how we act because we need to set the example of being level-headed, although we want to be thorough in our view,” Shad said.
He said any council member has a right to ask questions of nominees, but he hopes there is an air of respect to the process and to those who want to volunteer their time.
Unfortunately for ACT! people aren’t buying into the conspiracies anymore, and their cries about CAIR are falling on unsympathetic ears.
After nearly two weeks of controversy, the City Council Rules Committee voted 4-1 today to recommend University of North Florida professor Pervez Ahmed as a member of the city’s Human Rights Commission.
The nomination now goes to the full council for approval.
Only Councilman Clay Yarborough voted against Ahmed. He had voted to approve Ahmed at the last Rules meeting.
“I have too much of a reasonable doubt based on the research I’ve done over the last week and a half,” Yarborough said.
Voting in favor were Art Shad, John Crescimbeni, Denise Lee and Bill Bishop. Council Vice President Jack Webb left the room before the vote was taken; he told The Times-Union he stepped out to get a soft drink and was surprised that the vote came so soon.
The meeting was interrupted by shouting and several people walked out.
Ahmed said of the vote, “It’s a vindication for the City of Jacksonville more than for me … The city needed an outcome that demonstrated courage, that demonstrated moral clarity.”
Ahmed’s nomination was opposed by ACT! for America, an anti-Islamist group. Randy McDaniels, head of the group’s Jacksonville chapter, said, “It is surprising that so many people are pushing this individual and I would ask why.”
This story isn’t over but it is clear that the days of maligning Muslims for standing up for their civil rights will not get a free pass. However, the dogged persistence of hate groups such as ACT! for America means Americans of all stripes will have to be vigilante and work hard to fight hate.
ACT! for America maybe more properly known as Hate! for America because that is what they represent, as is evident by the bigotry of their founder Brigitte Gabriel, the witch hunt against Parvez Ahmed and the video of the hate filled ACT! for America representative make plain.