American Rhetoric: Rhetorical Relay Races (With Color-Changing Batons!)

The hand-off...

The hand-off…

     About five days ago, I wrote an article on CAIR-MISSOURI director Faizan Syed, and his call for free speech on the internet to be controlled by, and accountable to Sharia law. Mr. Syed is a proponent of the U.S. justice system’s adoption of Sharia, and he has made this crystal clear on several occasions, including in his 2012 post, which after heightened media scrutiny, has magically disappeared from the CAIR website. (Luckily though, a number of people were able to perform screen captures and PDF conversions of the post, so the proof of what has been said is far from gone.)

     Which brings me to earlier today. A friend of mine asked for my input on an article that he had come across, which stated that another publication had stated that a third focus group had dug up video of a Virginia-area imam, advocating for armed jihad on U.S. soil. According to the article on BizPac Review, Iman Sheik Shaker Elsayed was giving a speech to a group of Ethiopian Muslims last week (which is incorrect, but keep reading!) in Alexandria, during which the imam made this supposed statement. (1) Once again, the customary “Cybersattva skepticism” kicked in, and I grabbed my pick and shovel.

     The BizPac Review article linked to their source at the Investigative Project on Terrorism’s website, and their article on the matter. The IPT Blog piece was written by one John Rossamondo, who states that his information comes from a video unearthed by the “Creeping Sharia” blog, right back here on WordPress! Mr. Rossamondo’s article quotes Imam Shaker as having stated the following;

“You are a terrorist because you are a Muslim,” Elsayed said. “Well give them a run for their money. Make it worth it. Make this title worth it, and be good a Muslim.” (2)

     The article also makes mention of a 2005 interview that Imam Shaker gave on National Public Radio, during which he stated that;

“I believe there is no apology for terrorism. We condemned it; we condemned it on 9/11, I personally signed a paper on behalf of the organization I worked for at that time and sent it everywhere to the press. I spoke with the press,” (3)

     Something was amiss, and I felt it in my bones. There was more to this than what either BizPac Review or IPT were conveying, so I clicked on the link to the video itself, on You Tube. The actual speech, lasting about 24 minutes, was presented back in late January, at TC Williams High School, in Alexandria. (I would encourage you, my fine young readers, to click through and watch the speech for yourself.) (4)

     Now we come to the reason behind the title of this piece. There’s an exercise that communications speakers like to perform with large groups, where the speaker has the group sit in a circle. Then, the presenter will tell the first person in the circle a small story, and have that person pass the story along to the next person. That person passes it along the line to the next, until it gets back to the first person. The point of this exercise is to illustrate how a story can change between sources, based upon that source’s observational skills, preconceptions and communication abilities.

     [SOAPBOX=ON] Ladies and gentlemen, I do believe that this is what we have here. Three websites, all with a singular agenda, taking a speech by Imam Shaker presented to Ethiopian Muslims, with regards to events and conditions in Ethiopia, and cherry-picking it to make their case against Muslims in the U.S. At no time and in no way during his speech, did this Imam advocate for armed jihad, by American Muslims, on American soil.

     In effect, the green baton that Imam Shaker was carrying was taken by the folks at Creeping Sharia, spray painted yellow, and passed off to IPT. IPT in turn, spray painted it red, and handed it off to the folks at BizPac Review. By the time that my friend on Facebook had gotten a hold of it, the baton was something completely different than what it had started out as. (To my friend’s credit, once I brought this to his attention, he acknowledged not having vetted the story himself, as he had been trying to handle multiple tasks at one time. He summarily deleted his link from his page.)

     This type of alarmist, knee-jerk reporting by the neoconservative right has been a bane to the cause of journalistic integrity since September 11th of 2001. Sure, it has lessened as time has passed, however it is still out there, and does nothing to improve the dialogue between Muslims in the U.S. and others. It paints every Muslim as being part and parcel of a vast conspiracy to overthrow the government, and institute an Islamic theocracy on our shores and within our borders. Well folks, I don’t see that happening anytime soon, contrary to what the anti-Muslim tub-thumpers are inundating us with.

     The point that I’m trying to make here, if I’m saying anything, is to not simply buy the bill of goods that someone tries to sell you. Do your due diligence, do your research. Caveat emptor. I’ve advocated for this many times in the past, and this time is no exception.

__________________________________________________

Footnotes:

1) “Imam in Virginia calls for armed Jihad”, published 23 February 2013, BizPac Review. Last retrieved 24 February, 2013.

2) “Dar al-Hijrah Imam Calls For Armed Jihad”, published 22 February 2013, The Investigative Project on Terrorism. Last retrieved 24 February, 2013.

3) “Dialogue: In the Name of Islam”, published 04 August, 2005, PBS NewsHour. Last retrieved 24 February, 2013.

4) “Full speech of Imam Shakir at the Marking of the 1st anniversary of Ethio-Muslims movement.”, posted 13 February, 2013, You Tube. Last retrieved on 24 February, 2013.

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