Sunday, January 18, 2009

Obama Prayer Leader "Linked" to Hamas; So Is Jimmy Carter, I Presume

Fox News and other right-wingers are now playing gotcha with what they see as a vulnerability in an otherwise almost invulnerable celebration/inauguration - drawing a "connection" between someone on Obama's lineup of religious leaders, hence his "side", and .... lots of ooohs and ahhhs and looks of fear and loathing, please ... TERRORISM.

Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America, is one of many religious leaders scheduled to speak at the prayer service at Washington's National Cathedral.

Mattson has been the guest of honor at State Department dinners and has met with senior Pentagon officials during the Bush administration. She also spoke at a prayer service at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Mattson, who was elected president of the society in 2006, is a professor of Islamic studies at Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Conn.

But in 2007 and as recently as last July, federal prosecutors in Dallas filed court documents linking the Plainfield, Ind.-based Islamic society to the group Hamas, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization.

Neither Mattson nor her organization have been charged. But prosecutors wrote in July that they had "a wide array of testimonial and documentary evidence expressly linking" the group to Hamas and other radical groups.

Note that it says "federal prosecutors" were the sources for this alleged affiliation. Then note that Hamas, named as a "terrorist organization" by the United States, also happens to have been the political party that was voted into power by the Palestinians in a "free and fair election" that was overseen by none other than former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Yes, Jimmy Carter, the right-wing's favorite whipping boy, who also happened to have overseen a number of other foreign elections, to the approval of the United States, or at least, certainly not to his condemnation.

Yet clearly, by this, and by his inflammatory book entitled - wouldn't he be booted off dailykos for this? - "Peace, Not Apartheid" - Jimmy Carter is obviously linked to Hamas and linked to terrorism. How dare he make such inflammatory statements against Israel as accusing them of apartheid? How dare he criticize Israel? Israel is our friend, right or wrong. Wasn't the invasion of Lebanon "conducted" with impunity? Never mind that Lebanon is a sovereign nation. Flying in the face of national sovereignty is a Neocon Calling Card, or should I say right of passage. And Israel's government is the quintessential neocon's dream. Security always trumps compassion, or even cooperation. Compassion is always there basically, or so it appears, for PR.

In fact, Jimmy Carter's links to Hamas and terrorism are stronger than those of Ingrid Mattson, that - do we shudder at the word? - Muslim. She wears a terrorist hijab, in solidarity with terrorism and Islam, which are of course, one and the same. But she never wrote a book entitled Peace Not Apartheid. She did not oversee the election that put Hamas in power. And the allegations are against her organization, not her personally. Never mind that her organization is widely considered to be the most moderate mainstream organization for Muslims in America.

And Jimmy Carter's association with Hamas was not just the allegations of a prosecutor. And nobody even knows the "basis" on which those allegations were made. Jimmy Carter actually wants Palestinians' rights to be considered in negotiations regarding middle east peace in the region. Now that's a tie to terrorism, since Palestinians' rights are right there on Hamas' charter, along with the destruction of Israel. So by these "ties", Jimmy Carter is clearly asking for the destruction of Israel.

And of course, Obama, by having a Muslim give a prayer, is giving in to terrorism. And since any Muslim can probably be linked to terrorism with the flick of a switch, sort of at will, he should have known. But you know, maybe we can forgive him.

After all, Ingrid Mattson also has "ties" to anti-terror efforts.

Law enforcement agencies have used the organization's annual convention as part of its outreach to the Muslim community. The group has provided religious training to the FBI, according to court documents. Karen Hughes, a former Bush confidant and under secretary of state, called Mattson "a wonderful leader and role model for many, many people."

And to Jewish groups. And to the U.S. government.

Mark Pelavin, director of inter-religious affairs for the Union for Reform Judaism, another organization participating in the prayer service, called Mattson "a really important voice denouncing terrorism."

"Clearly, Dr. Mattson has been welcome throughout the government," he said. "I haven't found anyone anywhere who's found anything Dr. Mattson has said that's anything other than clearly denouncing terrorism in quite explicit Islamic terms."

Pelavin's group has a partnership with the Islamic Society to encourage members of mosques and synagogues to build ties nationwide.

Attorneys for Mattson's group wrote in court documents that it is not a subject or target of the Holy Land investigation. The group has worked with the Bush administration's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, according to court documents.

Wait! Isn't that what neocons and other Islamophobes are always taunting Muslims to do? Denounce terrorism? Then when someone actually does, some prosecutor is dragged out to create a damning "link" to terrorism, thus undercutting the efforts of the terrorism-denouncer and harming their credibility. How can you expect Muslims to come out and denounce terrorism when that in itself could create a "keyword" that would be picked up by "echelon" or some other spying "entity" and would brand that already-under-suspicion Muslim as a "terrorist"? If someone like Ingrid Mattson, who has been praised for her efforts by people from all sides of the equation, can be "linked" to terrorism, what about the rest of us?

This heavy-handedness only makes the situation worse and keeps moderates in hiding while extremists have lots of fuel for the fire. Extremists have nothing to lose, basically. Moderates have everything to lose.

As to the prosecutor "source", that may be about to disappear:
According to e-mails filed in the court case, one of the prosecutors seemed willing to ask the judge to remove the group from the list.

If this is some sort of tactic to dampen down the Obama inauguration's high ground and excitement, it's also typical of the previous 8 years' path toward destruction that wants to use smear tactics and lies to prevent goodwill and cooperation.

The whole world needs more goodwill and cooperation, and Ingrid Mattson, a woman convert to Islam and Islamic scholar - talk about breaking down barriers! - is the kind of leader we need more of. Obama and his team should be proud, not wary, of their choice. It's not like he's the first one to recognize Mattson's importance and beneficial, outspoken stance.

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