- The Washington Times - Friday, May 30, 2003

Do you believe that a “post-September 11 backlash” has resulted in a nationwide wave of violence and bigotry against Muslims in the United States? The hype artists and book-cookers at the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) want you to think so. The group’s new report purports to document “a massive increase” of hate crimes targeting Arab-Americans.

But in order to concoct a Muslim hate-crime epidemic, the ADC report lumps together faulty citations, dubious anecdotes and grossly overinflated claims.

As an example of a typical post-September 11 campus hate crime, the ADC report highlights an alleged incident in Tempe, Ariz., where “a Muslim student was pelted with eggs at Arizona State University.” Where did the information about the incident come from? The ADC refers to a student op-ed piece in the Sept. 17, 2001, edition of the Arizona Daily Wildcat, which attributes the egg-pelting incident to a “National Public Radio report.”

What the ADC is not telling you: Of two egg-pelting incidents involving ASU students logged by campus police, one was a complete hoax and the other was a nonracial, nonreligious juvenile prank.

As I reported in a column back in October 2001, ASU student Ahmad Saad Nasim lied to cops about being assaulted and pelted with eggs in a parking lot while assailants screamed “Die, Muslim, die.” Mr. Nasim confessed to fabricating the attack when cops interviewed him after he attempted a second hate-crime hoax in which he locked himself in a library restroom with the word “Die” written on his forehead, a plastic bag tied over his head and a racist note stuffed in his mouth.

Bill Fitzgerald, spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, told me last week that Mr. Nasim recently pled guilty to two counts of providing false information to police. His punishment? A measly one year’s probation, 50 hours of community service and an order to seek psychological counseling.

The other egg-pelting incident at ASU involved two 18-year-olds and two juveniles who threw an egg at an unidentified, 31-year-old ASU student. University spokeswoman Nancy Neff told me it was never classified as a hate crime by police. No racial or ethnic slurs were allegedly uttered, according to a police account. “It was a bunch of guys on a joy ride,” Ms. Neff said.

The ADC researchers’ approach to creating the myth of the Muslim hate-crime epidemic is simple: throw in everything plus the kitchen sink. The ADC report trivializes a few truly heinous, violent attacks — such as the post-September 11 murder of Sikh gas station owner Balbir Singh Sodhi in Mesa, Ariz. — by mixing in unverified reports by schoolchildren who say classmates made fun of their Arabic names, gave them “dirty looks” or pulled off their head coverings. Obnoxious behavior, for sure. But “hate crimes”?

The report cites a female student complaining that someone told her to “go back to wherever she came from.” I get one or two idiotic e-mails expressing the same sentiment every week. Small-mindedness can sting. But should it be a reportable physical offense?

To further pad the hate-crimes report, the ADC decries the “hostile commentary” of Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes, terrorism expert Steven Emerson, syndicated columnists Mona Charen, Jonah Goldberg and Ann Coulter, Washington Post columnists Richard Cohen and Charles Krauthammer, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, the Weekly Standard, National Review and jewishworldreview.com, not to mention talk radio and the entertainment industry as part of an orchestrated “campaign of racism.”

The ADC report suggests that every expression of support for law-enforcement profiling, every analysis of how the Muslim terrorist network has infiltrated American universities, mosques, prisons and charities, and every condemnation of radical Islam, qualifies as “defamation” that leads to widespread anti-Muslim crimes.

Herein lies the real agenda of the ADC and other apologists for Islamic extremism: to liken outspoken critics to murderers, to equate speech with violence and to exploit victimhood status in a cynical attempt to distract attention from the true sources of terrorism in the United States.

Michelle Malkin is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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