The Irvine Chamber of Commerce hosted a breakfast last Friday for the candidates for Mayor and City Council.Â 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:Â ”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 radicalÂ Islam.Â 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.Â Gallinger is also involved with other area Muslim charitable activities.
Choi was confronted by some peopleÂ 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 canâ€™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.Â During our conversation Choi and Shea told me that they have done their research into CAIR and know it to be a terrorist organization.Â When I asked about their research, they both told me to read anti-CAIR.com and the Irvine Tattler.Â 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.”Â That makes him question Todd.Â I immediately asked if his problem is that Todd is a Muslim, or it is that he represents CAIR, Choi said yes to both.Â Choi went on the explain that as a Christian, he would support putting a cross in a building, but others would find it offensive.Â Choi implied that as a “born-again Muslim”, Todd would act supportÂ dangerous activities.Â Honestly, it remindedÂ me ofÂ anti-Kennedy comments solely because Kennedy was a Catholic and would only listen to the Pope.Â
Later, after (Pat) Rodgers joined the conversation, I asked him if he has met with the CAIR leadership.Â He told me that he “would rather fight them in the street.”Â He echoed Choi and Shea about going to anti-CAIR.com 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.”Â 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.Â 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.
â€œOf all the groups, there is probably more suspicion about CAIR, but when you ask people for cold hard facts, you get blank stares,â€ 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 Hiltonâ€™s ballroom to hear guests of honor praise the organization, including J. Stephen Tidwell, the director of the F.B.I.â€™s Los Angeles office. â€œI am very excited to be here,â€ Mr. Tidwell told a reporter covering the fund-raiser for an Arab-American television news channel, calling CAIR â€œan important bridge for the F.B.I. into the Muslim, Arab-American community.â€
The article is hardly the damning evidence one requires to paint an entire organization as evil.Â 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.Â Branding CAIR as a terrorist organization is a bit much.Â 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.Â
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.Â It’s hate speech coming from elected officials and candidates for office against Muslims.Â And its candidates with points of view like this the voters of Irvine should reject.Â 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.