Call it the NGO that cried Islamophobe. In its recently released “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists,” it names some fifteen public figures and labels them as dangerous anti-Muslim bigots. Who made the list? Well, perhaps some names do conceivably fit the bill. One can see why Pamela Geller, the organizer of the “Draw the Prophet“ cartoon contest, or the incendiary ex-Muslim Walid Shoebat, made the list. But what about people such as Professor Daniel Pipes, or Ayaan Hirsi Ali?
The SPLC labels Pipes, a well-known Middle East expert who graduated from Harvard and is currently a visiting professor at Pepperdine University, a major funder of anti-Muslim bashing and clearly views him as a dangerous anti-Muslim subversive. Yet, Pipes himself has stated in public forums that “radical Islam is the problem and moderate Islam the solution,” and has vigorously argued with those who claim that such moderates do not exist. Elsewhere, Pipes claimed that only a small portion (ten to fifteen percent) of Muslims are sympathetic to militancy while the vast majority would opt for a more moderate view. “Not being a Muslim, I by definition do not believe in the mission of the Prophet Muhammad; but I have enormous respect for the faith of those who do. I note how deeply rewarding Muslims find Islam as well as the extraordinary inner strength it imbues them with. Having studied the history and civilization of the classical period, I am vividly aware of the great Muslim cultural achievements.”
Such sentiments are hardly what one would expect of a rabid anti-Muslim bigot.
Or what about Maajid Nawaz? Nawaz runs the Quilliam Foundation, an organization devoted to empowering the moderate voices of Islam. Nawaz has publicly contested the claim that Islam is innately violent, arguing instead that Islam in its true version is a religion of peace. But the SPLC has determined that, actually, Nawaz must be anti-Muslim. The proof? Nawaz “tweeted out a cartoon of Jesus and Muhammad — despite the fact that many Muslims see it as blasphemous to draw Muhammad,” and, as if that wasn’t enough, also stated that “where a balaclava, motorcycle helmet, or face mask would be deemed inappropriate,” Muslim niqabs, or face veils, should be removed. Disturbed by the SPLC’s characterization, Nawaz wrote:
To be able to successfully do what I care deeply about — working toward the emancipation of my Muslim communities from the oppressive yoke of theocrats — it is crucial that reforming liberal Muslims like me are not smeared as “anti-Muslim… And so I say to the Southern Poverty Law Center: You were supposed to stand up for us, not intimidate us.”
Of course, the truth is that the SPLC has shown its true colors for a good while. (Previously, they put Dr. Ben Carson, perhaps the gentlest man to occupy a presidential debate stage ever, in an “Extremist Watch List.“ As proof of Professor David Horowitz’s supposed anti-Muslim views, they muster his history of “reckless attacks on the American left.“) Like the boy who cried wolf, the SPLC’s overdone rhetoric and McCarthy-like attacks only serve to protect true bigots, anti-semites, and racists by making accusations of racism just another weapon in the attempt to discredit those who hold different, but legitimate, views.