Choi’s Shameful Smear

The Irvine Chamber of Commerce hosted a breakfast last Friday for the candidates for Mayor and City Council.  Council member Steven Choi, running for re-election despite already having a committee to raise funds for a run at Chuck DeVore assembly seat in 2010, by luck of the draw, was selected to be the final speaker.

A tipster sent email describing Choi’s closing statement that went along the lines of: “And you should all be careful of one candidate who represents the Islamic terrorist group CAIR.” CAIR is, of course, the Council for American-Islamic Relations, of which there are attempts to tie this group to radical Islam.  Choi’s statements were an obvious dig at Todd Gallinger, who is a devout Muslim and is a lawyer who represents the California Chapter of CAIR in matters of citizenship applications.  Gallinger is also involved with other area Muslim charitable activities.

Choi was confronted by some people from the audience, and he implied to them that that Muslims (and at least one person viewed the statement as applying to all non-Christians)have no place in public office and can’t be trusted.

According to Irvine Lawyer Kamran Malik, a Gallinger supporter, “After the forum, I approached Choi and (Christina) Shea about Choi’s comments.  During our conversation Choi and Shea told me that they have done their research into CAIR and know it to be a terrorist organization.  When I asked about their research, they both told me to read and the Irvine Tattler.  I asked if they had meet with the CAIR leadership, to which they both said no, that they would never meet with “those people”.

Specifically, Choi went on to say that Todd is a born-again Muslim and has stated that he is the attorney for this “dangerous organization.”  That makes him question Todd.  I immediately asked if his problem is that Todd is a Muslim, or it is that he represents CAIR, Choi said yes to both.  Choi went on the explain that as a Christian, he would support putting a cross in a building, but others would find it offensive.  Choi implied that as a “born-again Muslim”, Todd would act support dangerous activities.  Honestly, it reminded me of  anti-Kennedy comments solely because Kennedy was a Catholic and would only listen to the Pope. 

Later, after (Pat) Rodgers joined the conversation, I asked him if he has met with the CAIR leadership.  He told me that he “would rather fight them in the street.”  He echoed Choi and Shea about going to and the Irvine Tattler.”

From CAIR’s Orange County website:

  • CAIR’s vision is to be a leading advocate for justice and mutual understanding.
  • CAIR’s mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
  • CAIR supports free enterprise, freedom of religion and freedom of expression.
  • CAIR is committed to protecting the civil rights of all Americans, regardless of faith.
  • CAIR supports domestic policies that promote civil rights, diversity and freedom of religion.
  • CAIR opposes domestic policies that limit civil rights, permit racial, ethnic or religious profiling, infringe on due process, or that prevent Muslims and others from participating fully in American civic life.
  • CAIR is a natural ally of groups, religious or secular, that advocate justice and human rights in America and around the world.
  • CAIR supports foreign policies that help create free and equitable trade, encourage human rights and promote representative government based on socio-economic justice.
  • CAIR believes the active practice of Islam strengthens the social and religious fabric of our nation.
  • CAIR condemns all acts of violence against civilians by any individual, group or state.
  • CAIR advocates dialogue between faith communities both in America and worldwide.
  • CAIR supports equal and complementary rights and responsibilities for men and women.

Now, takeout the word “Islam” or “Muslim” and replace it with “Catholic” and “Christian.”  Does this sound like a terrorist organization to you?

So, taking a tip from Shea and Choi, I went to the Irvine Tattler site and clicked on the New York Times story posted by Tattler “publisher’ Stephen Smith that proves CAIR is a terrorist organization.  Here are excerpts from the story:

Government officials in Washington said they were not aware of any criminal investigation of the group. More than one described the standards used by critics to link CAIR to terrorism as akin to McCarthyism, essentially guilt by association.

“Of all the groups, there is probably more suspicion about CAIR, but when you ask people for cold hard facts, you get blank stares,” said Michael Rolince, a retired F.B.I. official who directed counterterrorism in the Washington field office from 2002 to 2005.
Broadly summarized, critics accuse CAIR of pursuing an extreme Islamist political agenda and say at least five figures with ties to the group or its leadership have either been convicted or deported for links to terrorist groups. They include Mousa Abu Marzook, a Hamas leader deported in 1997 after the United States failed to produce any evidence directly linking him to any attacks. There were no charges linked to CAIR in any of the cases involved, and law enforcement officials said that in the current climate, any hint of suspicious behavior would have resulted in a racketeering charge.
When the Southern California chapter threw itself a birthday party last November, nearly 2,000 people packed the Anaheim Hilton’s ballroom to hear guests of honor praise the organization, including J. Stephen Tidwell, the director of the F.B.I.’s Los Angeles office. “I am very excited to be here,” Mr. Tidwell told a reporter covering the fund-raiser for an Arab-American television news channel, calling CAIR “an important bridge for the F.B.I. into the Muslim, Arab-American community.”

The article is hardly the damning evidence one requires to paint an entire organization as evil.  It would, for example, be unfair to brand all Republicans as perverts and deviants due to the actions of people like Larry Craig, Mark Foley, or Dick Morris.  Branding CAIR as a terrorist organization is a bit much.  How did the Register miss this comment in the story over the weekend?

This whole debate kind of takes me back to what I missed in Irvine in the late 80s/early 90’s when Shea led a drive against gays and lesbians to roll back same sex partner benefits enacted by Larry Agran. 

Choi’s divisiness history extends to his time on the school board where he pitted parents of GATE kids against those who received mandatede special education, forgetting of course, that some parents have one of both types of kids at home.

This is the sort of divide the community approach the people on this side of the ticket have tried to do the past few elections in Irvine.  It’s hate speech coming from elected officials and candidates for office against Muslims.  And its candidates with points of view like this the voters of Irvine should reject.  Might I suggest a new slogan for Team Irvine: “Bigots and Proud of it!”

Better idea: there’s a City Council meeting tonight. Go and tell them how you feel.

  12 comments for “Choi’s Shameful Smear

  1. just...asking?
    September 23, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    No suprise!

    Choi is the most uninformed/inarticulate/unpolished councilmember I have ever met! How he ever got elected is amazing, even Korean American groups are wary of him.

    My theory is that some confused him with Sukee Kang and just voted for both Korean candidates. It’s hard to unseat an incumbent but everybody I know who has met Choi is thoroughly underwelmed. Hopefully Irvine will look a little more closely and do the right thing and retire Choi.

    p.s. He has no chance to replace DeVore, reeps won’t support him and there are several frothing at the mouth for this seat.

  2. September 24, 2008 at 1:52 am

    And people wonder why there is supposed to be a separation between church and state. There is no “Christian” test to be an elected official in this country. A person’s faith is not a qualification for office. The only terrorists in Irvine are those who use their political positions to promote hate, fear, and terror on the basis of the religious faith of others.


    Ter”ror*ist\, n. [F. terroriste.] One who governs by terrorism or intimidation; specifically, an agent or partisan of the revolutionary tribunal during the Reign of Terror in France. –Burke.

    Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.

    Yes, Choi and Shea are at least acting like terrorists.

  3. Nate Hawke
    September 24, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    At least be accurate in your writing and reporting – no one has to \”make an attempt to tie this group (CAIR) to radical Islam\” because its origins are actually in radical Islam. You well know that Sami Al-Arian co- founded the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) which later ended up as CAIR. Of course, Al-Arian today is in prison having been convicted for his participation in PIJ, thus the tie between CAIR and radical Islam is obvious and cannot be denied
    Furthermore, anyone with ties to, doing work for, or receiving support from CAIR, needs to have that relationship publically exposed so voters are aware. If your Mr. Gallinger has any of those ties – he should proudly bear the consequences of his decisions. You\’re not a good enough writer to make Americans forget 9/11.

  4. Dan Chmielewski
    September 24, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    In 2004, CAIR officials met with senior FBI officers at their headquarters in Washington D.C. At that meeting, the FBI told CAIR officials that they have researched the allegations against CAIR and have concluded that all these false claims originate from one or two biased sources.

  5. Dan Chmielewski
    September 24, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    “Like the good folks standing with me, the American people were appalled and outraged at last Tuesday’s attacks…This is a great country. It’s a great country because we share the same values of respect and dignity and human worth. And it is my honor to be meeting with leaders who feel just the same way I do. They’re outraged, they’re sad. They love America just as much as I do.” –President George W. Bush, September 17, 2001

  6. ed rollins
    September 24, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    CAIR is full of terrorists including its founders. Choi is right. Suck it!!!

  7. Dan Chmielewski
    September 24, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Since Choi alludes that only Christians make good candidates, I’d say the comment was anti-Semitic as well.

  8. September 24, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Thanks Dan for your post. It is a shame that a public official or candidate will use politics of fear, lies, and bigotry to gain votes. If anything, this exposes this public official’s lack of integrity and ethics.

    Promoting anti-Muslim bigotry or any form of racism is not befitting for someone who wants to hold a public office.

    I work for CAIR and I am proud of our record in promoting peace, justice and interfaith collaboration. CAIR and all mainstream Muslims reject terrorism and those who promote it. We equally reject people like Choi who wish to divide our country, cities, and communities along religious or racial lines in order to advance their selfish political aspirations.

    Read what Muslims and CAIR say about terrorism:

    Read what other leaders say about CAIR and its work:

  9. David
    September 24, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    Did I miss something or was this not picked up by the OC register? In any case, I feel sad that such bigotry and racism still run rampant, especially amongst these people who are supposed to be our leaders. I’m actually quite surprised that Mr. Choi would candidly express such racisim in public… somewhat of a moronic political move if you ask me. Sounds like the same BS that opponents of Barack Obama are saying now, and what people said to Keith Ellison when he was running. LIke when that idiot Glenn Beck asked Ellison “Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies”
    Whatever happened to our first amendment and the freedom of religion.

  10. TruthPrevails
    September 25, 2008 at 4:53 am

    “Let there be no doubt that the Council on American-Islamic Relations
    is a terrorist supporting front organization that is partially funded
    by terrorists, founded by terrorists, and that CAIR wishes nothing
    more than the implementation of Sharia Law in America”

    “It is clear that CAIR has had a number of people in positions of power within the organization that have been directly connected to terrorism and have either been prosecuted or thrown out of the country” … despite Rolince’s contention, “there are no blank stares from people working in counterterrorism in the U.S., and it is troubling that CAIR seems unable to directly and specifically condemn terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.”

  11. Omar
    September 28, 2008 at 11:49 am

    I have one question that has yet to be responded to accurately:

    If CAIR is a “terrorist organization,” why has local and federal law enforcement failed to close down or even investigate a single chapter in the US, as it has to other Muslim and non-Muslim organizations around the country? I personally trust our law enforcement and legal system, especially when compared to fear mongering bigots and anti-Semites.

    This is the same question I posed to Choi’s running mate, Pat Rogers, himself a former law man. “Blank stares” indeed…

    In fact Pat Rogers used the analogy of police officers accused, tried, and sentenced for illegal activity and how that should not taint the image of law enforcement everywhere or even an entire department. Maybe Choi should take some advice from his running mate, or from what I gather of Rogers’ most recent comments, maybe he should take his own advice.

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