Another week, another threat of lawsuit by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. This time, the group behind the Minneapolis "flying imams" lawsuit are targeting the Young America's Foundation, the nonprofit that owns President Reagan's Santa Barbara Ranch. YAF's "offense": Inviting author and terrorism analyst Robert Spencer to speak at a conference yesterday afternoon for a lecture titled "The Truth About the Council on American-Islamic Relations." Among other things, the real CAIR story features less-than-flattering facts, such as the "unindicted co-conspirator" label CAIR earned in June in a Hamas terror-funding case, and the several people in the group's orbit who have been indicted on terrorism-related charges. CAIR would rather try to frighten its critics than debate them.
As CAIR's lawyer warned YAF Wednesday: "Our clients have instructed us to pursue every available and appropriate legal remedy to redress any false and defamatory statements that are made at the session." This comes from a group which claims to "encourage dialogue."
This is an outrageous bid at intimidation. A more normal advocacy organization would seek to debate its opponents. Sadly, this litigiousness is commonplace for CAIR, whose activities could be scarcely more different from its mission statement. CAIR claims to strive to "be a leading advocate for justice and mutual understanding" and to "enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding." It could scarcely do less of each.
Recall that CAIR is behind one of the most troubling recent lawsuits, the case of the "flying imams," in which unnamed U.S. Airways "John Does" are targeted. The anonymous passengers tipped authorities to what they believed was suspicious activity by six imams on a Minneapolis airplane last November. For their troubles, they got sued. Even House Democrats buckled last week on tipster immunity because they recognize that to be associated with CAIR's contention that good-faith tipsters should be liable in court over false alarms would be politically suicidal. Recall also that CAIR is the group which bullied Boeing Corp. to stop advertising in the conservative magazine National Review over the latter's sale of the books "The Life and Religion of Mohammed" and "The Sword of the Prophet." Some "dialogue" this is.
If CAIR has nothing to hide, it should simply debate. Mr. Spencer is one of the most outspoken critics of radical Islam in the country; it would be a lively debate. Instead, it sues.