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Saturday, April 26, 2008
Farah vs. CAIR: The 'It's A Joke!' Defense
Topic: WorldNetDaily

WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah is still be disingenuous about his tangle with the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

For the first time, in an April 26 column, Farah acknowledges to his readers that WND printed a column by Paul Sperry on Sept. 27, 2001, that suggested, among other things, telling Afghans that the U.S. has "enlisted Afghani moles to contaminate their water supplies with pig's blood" -- CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper had incorrectly attributed the claim to Farah. But Farah called the fact that CAIR spokesman Nadhira F. Al-Khalili, national legal counsel had pointed this out a "smarmy non-apology," then insisted it was just a harmless joke, as he says he wrote to Al-Khalili:

I continued: "Perhaps a second or third reading of Paul Sperry's column by Hooper and you will help you realize what anyone should be able to comprehend in the context of the complete column – that it was satire. Furthermore, the column was written two weeks after Sept. 11, 2001. I don't know if that date means anything to you. But it was long before the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan – meaning the clearly tongue-in-cheek suggestion was for a time much different than now.


"Now you recall, after my name has been tarnished by this lie, that it was actually someone else writing who made the suggestion. But you fail to mention the critical timing of the piece and the fact that it was clearly over-the-top satire.

"Perhaps it has also escaped your attention that viewpoints are expressed every day in WND's commentary section with which I disagree. In fact, unless I write the commentaries, I don't accept any ownership of the ideas expressed in them. We publish columnists every day with whom I disagree vehemently.

"Hooper also made the charge that WND daily published anti-Muslim hatred. He provided one example, from seven years ago, and it was a satirical piece published before CAIR had yet decided something abominable had happened on Sept. 11. In fact, CAIR didn't publicly rebuke the attack on America for another 10 weeks, as I recall. If WND publishes examples of anti-Muslim hatred every day, why would Hooper have to resort to one bad example from seven years earlier? This is your full-time spokesman!"

Sperry also stated, regarding Muslims, that "their religion is driving them to hate Americans, and rewarding them to kill our people." Was Sperry joking about that, too?

Farah is being disingenuous in claiming that "that viewpoints are expressed every day in WND's commentary section with which I disagree." WND carries dozens of columnists -- nearly all of whom (aside from token liberals Bill Press and Ellen Ratner) are right-of-center, like Farah. As we've noted, WND is less a "news" website than a platform to advance the personal views and agenda of its founder and editor -- Farah -- so it's a logical assumption that Farah condones, if not approves, the vast majority of the general views expressed on it. Further, at the time Sperry wrote his column, he was an employee of WND, serving as its Washington bureau chief. It's safe to say that Farah would never have hired Sperry if their worldviews, at the very least, were not similar.

And while Farah singled out Hooper's charge that "WND daily published anti-Muslim hatred," he didn't exactly deny it -- just as he hasn't explicitly disavowed the sentiments in Sperry's column, satirical as they might be. As Richard Bartholomew points out, WND does indeed have a long, consistent history of printing anti-Muslim rhetoric, such as a November 2004 column by Jack Wheeler claiming that "neither the adoption of Islam nor all the intervening centuries since has decreased the addiction Arab men have to pederasty."

Farah also claims, "Knowing the kind of people who listen to Hooper, it is very dangerous to be mislabeled as an anti-Muslim extremist who suggested air-dropping pig's blood over Afghanistan."Bartholomew responds:

Farah wants us to believe that Hooper has put him danger because WND has just published a book of ex-Muslim testimonies (with an Islamic portrait of Muhammad on the cover for good measure), and he is desperate to concoct a controversy around it. His target readers, however, will be perplexed as to why Farah is now trying to distance himself from the anti-Muslim views which he has been feeding them for years. 

That, and pretending to be surprised by the idea that Muslims might be offended by the fact that a new WND-published book, "Why We Left Islam," has an image of Muhammed on it when provoking outrage was the precise reason for doing it in the first place.

Farah has been aggressive about demanding a "retraction and apology" over CAIR's claim. Yet it took WND seven years to admit that it had published false claims about an Al Gore supporter (in which he was labeled a drug dealer and arsonist) and to "regret whatever harm occurred" -- and only then just before a libel lawsuit was to go to trial. What gives Farah the right to demand that his own grievances be addressed any faster than that?

P.S. WND's April 26 "news" article on the Farah-CAIR contretemps fails to mention Sperry's column -- the basis for the entire controversy -- at all. 

P.P.S. In ConWebWatch's eight years of writing about WND, Farah has never once publicly demanded, CAIR-like, that we retract or apologize for anything we wrote. Consider that an endorsement of our veracity.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:17 AM EDT

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