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Bad Advice: Phares and Gaffney Join Trump and Cruz Teams

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MuslimVoicesMatter

For once, Donald Trump was the honest one.

Asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program whom he consults with on foreign policy issues, he said “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things.”

He has surely said a lot of things. But even someone with a brain as “good” as his needs advisors. All leaders do. A savvy and dedicated leader seeks the input of people with knowledge, people who are expert in their fields.

On Monday, March 21 Trump met with the Washington Post editorial board. Finally sharing the names of his proposed policy advisors, he gave them a revealing list of men with varying degrees of competency and experience.

Among them is Walid Phares, a self-styled anti-terrorism expert with a long history of promoting the idea that America is in peril of a takeover by Muslims bent on “instituting shariah.”

Walid Phares

Phares was a controversial member of Mitt Romney’s foreign policy advisor team during Romney’s 2012 presidential run. At that time there was public question about Phares’ role in the Lebanese Christian militia during the country’s civil war in the eighties. According to an October 24, 2011 article in the New Republic, there was thought that Phares might have been chosen to attract the “anti-sharia zealots.” The article goes on to say that this group of purported “zealots”:

…cares little for impeccable credentials or decades-old foreign conflicts, it cares a great deal about the threat of Sharia law. By tapping Phares, Romney could get in the good graces of this group and inoculate himself against the possibility of being labeled “soft on Sharia.”

The choice of Phares would dovetail nicely with the Trump “ban all Muslims” plan. He did qualify his ban, after all.

“Ban all Muslims,” he said, “until our elected leaders can figure out what the hell is going on.”

Maybe he sees Phares as the person who can provide an answer. By choosing him, however, Trump shows either deliberate malice or his usual ignorance.

Ted Cruz, a more experienced politician and ideologue, has also named as a policy advisor a man with a long and well-documented history of opposition to Muslims, Frank Gaffney. He is not just anti-Muslim. He is a paranoid extremist who pushes irrational conspiracy theories.

FrankGaffney1

The Southern Policy Law Center has a profile of Gaffney on the “Extremist” page of their website. They say of him:

In Gaffney’s mind, America is in peril, and bringing back the notorious Cold War-era House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) would expose the subversives he imagines are working to implement Shariah religious law throughout the land.

The SPLC describes Gaffney as a well-educated Reagan-era government staffer who they say in the late eighties “seemed to go off the rails,” developing an obsession with the idea that the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated the U.S. After losing his appointment as Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense, he founded the Center for Security Policy, a purported think tank that serves mostly as a platform for him to share his conspiracy theories, of which he has developed many; the Huffington Post has listed a number of them here. They target a range of public figures, from Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan to the Pope. He also created the discredited poll that Trump cited to support his “Muslim ban.”

When Wolf Blitzer questioned Cruz about some of Gaffney’s expressed beliefs, Cruz backed away, using the timeworn technique of accusing the anchor of “gotcha” questions. He called the questions “silliness.”

“Listen, I don’t know what he said in 2009,” scoffed Cruz in the interview, seemingly admitting that he was unaware of the background of a man he praised as knowledgeable and whom he thought highly enough of to add to his advisory team.

He is either irresponsible in his choices or dismissive of what a presidential team requires, and perhaps thus dismissive of the well-being of the country.

***

There is no perfect candidate. There is no perfect elected official. In 2016 there may not even be good candidates. But the team around a leader should be the best – the fairest, the strongest, representing the best of our values and serving the people in the best way possible.

There are candidates this year whom we must reject. They are marked by the people whose counsel they seek.

Imagine what the response to an attack like that in Brussels would look like under the guidance of Phares or Gaffney. Paranoid haters of Muslims would be in the oval office discussing responses with presidents guided by their own mistrusts and bigotry.

Above all, we cannot allow Trump to become president, especially not with Phares at his ear.

Jennifer Rubin wrote in today’s Washington Post:

Cruz is on firm ground both in arguing that Trump is entirely clueless on the specifics of foreign policy and in emphasizing that rather than “Make America great,” Trump’s policies would double down on the Obama approach of retreat and retrenchment, making the United States and our allies that much more vulnerable.

Ross Douthat wrote in today’s New York Times:

This is the man who will be the Republican nominee for president, representing the party of Eisenhower and Nixon and Reagan and George H.W. Bush, at a moment when the Western/liberal order is more fragile than it’s been since 1991. And of all the leaders of the Republican Party, all the men and women who hold high office, is history really going to record that this demagogic, blathering clown was opposed forthrightly and absolutely only by a defeated presidential nominee, a Senate backbencher, and a retired Senator lately recovered from cancer? Really?

I had not thought Trump had undone so many.

Nor had I.

 

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Ten Reasons You Should Support MuslimMatters This #GivingTuesday

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MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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A Letter From The Executive Director

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

AssalamuAlaikum Dear MM Fam,

Alhamdulillah in 2007, I was fortunate to be a part of the team that started up a little website called MuslimMatters.org. It’s hard to believe it’s been over a decade. In that time MM has grown from a group blog into a full-blown media entity giving an independent and authentic Islamic voice to contemporary spiritual, social, and political issues that we face.

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With 2020 around the corner, we are at a critical juncture. Traffic has grown beyond our current capacity – yes, we’re basically the masjid that now has an expansion project lol – and we have to grow in order to meet our community’s media needs.

Your help is needed to invest in the MM infrastructure so we can not only keep up with our current growth but also develop new content such as podcasts and videos to continue to reach more readers all across the globe.

Your contribution on #GivingTuesday is particularly vital as it will count as double with a Facebook match. We need your help to make vital improvements that will enable MuslimMatters to continue being a voice for the voiceless and a platform for mainstream Islam in the media.

This #GivingTuesday I’m raising money for Muslimmatters Inc and your contribution will make an impact, whether you donate $5 or $500. Every little bit helps. And on GivingTuesday Dec 3, Facebook will match a total of $7 million in donations first come, first served. Thank you for your support.

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SaveUighur Urges Muslim Community To Support Black Friday Boycott Of “Made in China” Clothing

Cotton made in China
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SaveUighur.org is urging Masjids and Islamic organizations to call for a Black Friday/Cyber Monday boycott of any clothing made in China this week.

Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, is the busiest shopping day of the year in the United States, with retailers offering deals and discounts in stores and online.

China is currently engaged in a campaign of cultural genocide and forced assimilation of its Uighur Muslim community in East Turkestan (Xinjiang) in northwest China.

SaveUighur.org is a campaign to raise awareness about this human rights tragedy.

Clothing is specifically being targeted for boycott because experts say 80% of cotton used in Chinese clothing comes from East Turkestan, where forced labor is routinely used. As well, 30% of all U.S. clothing comes from China.

“Americans must send a message to the Chinese government that its horrific abuse of Uighurs will not be tolerated,” said Aydin Anwar, an Uighur-American activist with SaveUighur.org. “We must avoid buying clothing made in China because it would mean tacit approval of the Chinese government’s genocide of Uighurs. Boycotting products made in the country will send a strong message.”

Since April 2017, the Chinese government has thrown about 800,000 to two million Uighurs and other Muslims into the largest concentration camps since those of Nazi Germany during World War II. Prisoners have been subjected to torture, gang rape, and medical experimentation. It has also forcibly separated families, sending children to state-run child welfare institutions and boarding schools without access to their parents, and without parental consent.

Outside of the camps, Uighurs are subjected to strict surveillance of all communication within and outside of China, and spies are sent to live in Uighur homes.

SaveUighur.org is calling for the Muslim community to support this campaign and to encourage family, friends, and followers on social media to do the same using hashtags like #SaveUighur #BoycottMadeInChina #boycottchina #china #uighurs #uighur #FastFromChina

(1) Take a picture of the Made In China item.

(2) Write a message saying you are NOT buying it since it comes from China.

(3) Mention you are supporting the people of East Turkestan. Tag the manufacturer and shop, if possible.

(4) Use the hashtags #SaveUighur #BoycottMadeInChina #boycottchina #china #uighurs #uighur #FreeEastTurkestan

For more information about the campaign, please visit SaveUighur.org

CONTACT: Aydin Anwar, C: 571-344-3885

“We must avoid buying clothing made in China because it would mean tacit approval of the Chinese government's genocide of Uighurs. Boycotting products made in the country will send a strong message.”Click To Tweet
SaveUighur.org is calling for the Muslim community to boycott Made in China clothing, using hashtags like #SaveUighur #BoycottMadeInChina #boycottchina #china #uyghur #uighur #FastFromChina Click To Tweet
(1) Take a picture of the Made In China item. (2) Write a message saying you are NOT buying it since it comes from China. (3) Mention you are supporting the people of East Turkestan. Tag the manufacturer and shop, if possible. (4) Use the hashtags #SaveUighur #BoycottMadeInChina #boycottchina #china #uighurs #uighur #FreeEastTurkestan For more information about the campaign, please visit SaveUighur.orgClick To Tweet

 

“The South China Morning Post reports that U.S.-based scholars and experts spoke before legislators about how Uighurs who have been forcibly held in detention centers have been put to work in factory jobs. Companies that used these factories staffed by Uighurs and other Turkic minorities would receive government subsidies for each individual trained and employed, along with shipping subsidies. This cheap labor along with the government subsidies would result in very low manufacturing costs, “undercutting global prices,” according to testimony presented at the hearing by the Center of Strategic and International Studies. This could turn Xinjiang into a hub for low-cost manufacturing.

According to reliable sources such as the agricultural research company Gro Intelligence, a vast cotton-producing industry has been developed in Xinjiang which supplies 80 percent of the country’s total cotton output. This would mean that any cotton clothing sourced from China would be suspect of containing cotton grown using slave labor.

Furthermore, the Chinese Communist Party is transferring Uighur and other Turkic people to other parts of China forcibly, so the task of tracking forced labor of Uighur is no longer limited to Xinjiang (East Turkestan) but to the rest of the country, making it virtually impossible to track the forced labor of prisoners. How can third-party auditors ensure that the workers in these factories are not Uighurs removed from Xinjiang (East Turkestan)?”

Open Letter to Costco On Chinese Products Made by Forced Labor

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