It is great that League City’s Muslim American residents are asking the City Council to change the part of the recent anti-immigrant resolution which refers to “radical Islamist terror groups.” Councilmember Heidi Theiss’ ugly response to these community members is based on fabrications and misleading statements which reek of racism and religious bigotry.
Theiss has no facts to support the claim that “radical Islamist terror groups” are working with drug cartels to infiltrate our country. She appears unaware that Gov. Rick Perry’s recent assertion about record numbers of migrants arriving from terrorist havens was denounced as a “pants on fire” falsehood by Politifact.com. Such migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria are often seeking asylum and routinely arrive by plane, not by foot. Today, we may need to be more concerned about native-born Americans who embrace different kinds of terrorist ideology.
To what “threats” or “intimidation tactics” by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) does Theiss refer? Certainly, she would have reported any unlawful “threat” or “intimidation” to the League City Police Department, and she apparently has not done so. Theiss may not like community members’ strong criticisms or political challenges to her racism and religious bigotry. But all of that is part of democracy, and she will just have to get used to it.
Theiss reveals more about herself than about CAIR when she claims it has “a disreputable history and intentions.” In fact, CAIR is the largest, most influential Muslim-American civil rights organization. It has played a leading role in combating anti-Muslim discrimination for two decades.
CAIR has also strongly condemned the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the terrorist bombings in Madrid, the massacre at Fort Hood and other acts of extremism committed in the name of religion. CAIR has worked successfully with law enforcement agencies, civil liberties organizations, educational organizations and many other groups.
Theiss is terribly misleading when she claims CAIR is “indisputably linked with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.” If this was the case, CAIR and its leaders would have been indicted and tried in federal court a long time ago.
CAIR once had ties to the Holy Land Foundation, which sent humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people. In what many people consider a grotesque miscarriage of justice, Holy Land Foundation was closed and a few of its leaders were sent to prison because Hamas helped distribute this humanitarian assistance. The same fate has not befallen CAIR, and the organization has not violated the law. CAIR has unequivocally denounced acts of violence against civilians by Hamas just as they have with Israel.
Theiss apparently has difficulty understanding that racism and religious bigotry do not have much of a future in our country. She may aspire to be the Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann of Galveston County, but she would do well to consider how quickly their political fortunes have declined. The entire League City anti-immigrant resolution, which was more of a political stunt than a legally meaningful measure, should be rescinded.
David Michael Smith is a former professor of government.