H/T Charlie Sykes
Story Published: Sep 24, 2008
Dear Mr. Sykes,
I have been a Community Columnist for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel for the past year. During that time, they have published over a dozen of my opinion pieces, most of which took provocative positions on controversial issues.
This week I submitted a column rebutting a recent editorial written by Mr. Othman Atta, the president of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee.
Mabel Wong, the Perspectives Editor of the paper and my superior during my tenure as a Community Columnist, referred the column to Ricardo Pimentel, who killed the column.
The explanation that I received was that the column "made generalizations that were too broad, that the issue was a touchy one and that the paper feared it would fan the flames of controversy". I stand behind the accuracy of the content which highlighted specific incidents which failed to elicit any response from Mr. Atta and his organization.
I have attached a copy of the column to this message, so that you may judge for yourself whether the Mr. Pimentel's rationale was accurate or not.
I am very concerned that many media outlets are allowing themselves to be intimidated into silence by the implied threat of Islamic violence. If that is the case, the long term implications for free speech are ominous.
If you have an interest in this issue, I will be happy to discuss it with you.
HERE IS THE COLUMN:
“Suicide Bombers and Their Enablers”
By: Al Smith
Mr. Othman Atta, president of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee, is outraged. He’s angry because the September 14 edition of Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel included a DVD about Muslim terrorism.
According to Atta, this was the result of a vast conspiracy involving evil Zionists, right wing hate groups, Christian fundamentalists and other folks who don’t enjoy having their heads sawn off by masked jihadists. Mr. Atta’s opinion piece was published on September 21, in the very issue that featured reports of the terrorist bombing of the Marriott in Pakistan, in which dozens were killed by his coreligionists. How ironic.
Of course, it would be unfair to blame Mr. Atta for this bad timing, since barely a day goes by without some new atrocity committed by deranged Muslim zealots. Unfortunately, it appears that Mr. Atta and his organization follow a wavering and very selective moral compass.
Where, for example, is his outrage over Iran ’s practice of stoning women to death for the crime of adultery? Was he angry that young girls were burned alive in Egypt because Muslim police locked them inside a flaming school until they were fully concealed in their burkhas?
When did Mr. Atta protest against fatwa’s, religious edicts issued by Islamic clerics, calling for the assassinations of writers, filmmakers and artists with whom they take issue? When mullahs in Afghanistan sentenced a man to death for wishing to covert to Christianity, did Mr. Atta come out publicly against that?
Did Mr. Atta’s group place any paid ads, write any opinion pieces or offer any broadcast condolences when men, women and children were blown to bits on trains in Madrid ? Did they respond sympathetically when the same murderous fanaticism killed innocents on the London subway?
“People who do not understand something tend to fear it,” said Mr. Atta in 2006. He’s absolutely correct and, perhaps, would benefit from knowing exactly what it is that Wisconsinites don’t understand.
We don’t understand why your organization’s website doesn’t contain a single word condemning suicide bombers who destroy the lives of the innocents in countries all over the globe. We don’t understand why you fail to denounce extremist mullahs by name.
We don’t understand why you and other American Muslim leaders remain silent when Bin Laden and his henchmen release widely publicized videos urging members of your religion to kill American citizens in this country. We don’t understand why members of your religious community protect, conceal and support known terrorists. We don’t understand why you aren’t angry when Islamic mobs blow up Hindu temples, Christian churches and Jewish synagogues.
Most of all, Mr. Atta himself needs to understand that by making excuses for Islamic holy war, and then blaming us for misunderstanding Muslims he is, in effect, enabling terrorism.
Patriotic Muslim-Americans are actively serving in our military. Muslim soldiers from friendly nations are also fighting alongside our own troops on many battlefields in the global war against fanatic jihadists.
Americans are a fair minded and tolerant people, and Mr. Atta should worry more about extremists of his own faith than he does about conservative commentators.
He should spend less time ranting about talk radio and Zionist plots, and more time denouncing radical Muslims who have hijacked his theology and are converting his religion into a medieval death cult.
Finally, he should understand that Americans do not, and never will, fear Islam. We are, however, losing patience with apologists who disguise murder under the veil of faith.