Mr. Horowitz posted the following item this past Monday on his Frontpage Blog (3rd item down):
If you want to measure the lack of security in this country as we face the terrorist threat, note that Sami Al-Arian, who on the evidence is a leader of Islamic Jihad and a professor at the University of Southern Florida is 1) a free man 2) a hero of the American left and 3) defended by the leading professional organization of "scholars" of the Middle East -- which is to say the people who train the best young minds of those Americans who have an interest in the Middle East and can provide us with intelligence about it.
As I am a member of the American left, I figured I should know about this supposed 'hero' of mine, a Mr. Sami Al-Arian. I consulted my wallet for my pocket sized, standard issue list of lefty heroes and found that nowhere between Atrios and Zappa could I find the gentleman in question. So it was off, once again, to Google where I found the information I was seeking.
Oh, it's that guy. I remember him from his television appearances after 9/11. But wait a minute, I seem to remember that I was cursing and throwing things at my television whenever he opened his mouth. I remember, in fact, that I thought he was perhaps one of the most idiotic people I had ever seen warm the seat of a television talkshow. So... Why does Mr. Horowitz believe him to be one of my heroes, and if Mr. Al-Arian is a leader of Islamic Jihad, why were the FBI not dragging him off the set instead of letting him chat with Bill Mahr?
Well, I followed quite a few of those Google links and found the answers to my questions.
First of all, as can be quite clearly understood from an article in Salon, Mr. Al-Arian is, in fact, not a leader of Islamic Jihad. FBI and INS investigations dating back to 1995 concluded that he was not so affiliated. He had raised money through a charity that sent funds to a branch of Hamas, but he did so before the 1996 law that made such transactions illegal. The Salon piece is a harsh indictment of the way in which the media, led by Bill O'Reilly, MSNBC's Steve Emerson, and a Florida DJ named Bubba the Love Sponge (yes, I'm serious) tried and convicted Mr. Al-Arian on the airwaves, and eventually exerted enough pressure on his employer to have him fired.
Let me reiterate that my personal feelings about Mr. Al-Arian are anything but kind and charitable. I despise the man and everything that he stands for. But to my knowledge, he has never done anything illegal during the more than 25 years he has been in the United States. The FBI and the INS seem to be of the same opinion. Last time I checked, being a dickhead wasn't against the law.
Sami Al-Arian is a militant Palestinian Nationalist, and was a tenured professor at the University of South Florida, but he is not a member of Islamic Jihad, much less a leader of that organization, and during his repellant appearances on talkshows he was always careful to repudiate the actions of the 9/11 terrorists. Mr. Horowitz, I assume, was posting based on information from the O'Reilly program, which would account for his error in identifying Mr. Al-Arian, but I should think that a simple Google search would be in order before calling someone a leader of a terrorist organization and suggesting that they should be imprisoned. It took me less than three minutes to get the correct information.
As to Mr. Horowitz's assertion that Sami Al-Arian is a hero of the American left, I was unable to find any evidence in support of this idea. Every defense of Mr. Al-Arian that I could find was based on the issues of academic freedom and First Amendment protections of free speech. Not a single article that I could find expressed support for his politics. Even the Socialist Worker Online based it's defense of Mr. Al-Arian on the First Amendment, and frankly, I would suggest that Mr. Horowitz has more in common with the SWO than any of the lefties I know.
Now that I know the facts, I defend Mr. Al-Arian's right to free speech just as I and many on the left defended the rights of the Skokie Nazis back in the 1980's. Would Mr. Horowitz have you believe that Hitler is a hero of the Left as well? Actually, by Mr. Horowitz's logic, David Duke should be regarded as a hero of the conservatives since some right-wing extremists regard him as such. Perhaps Mr. Horowitz has forgotten that the most important tests of free speech come when the speech in question is unpopular and offensive. Mr. Horowitz might also be reminded of the fact that since Mr. Al-Arian's speech is political, it is all the more important that it be protected.
It is certainly likely that Mr. Al-Arian may be a hero to Americans who are also Palestinian Nationalists, but if that is the case, Mr. Horowitz should state it in those terms rather than taking a cheap shot at smearing the entire American Left. If Mr. Horowitz, as he seems to indicate, has evidence of Sami Al-Arian's guilt then he should back up his post with links to that information and inform the FBI. If he can point to any non-extremist on the left who holds Al-Arian up as a hero, then he should provide the links. That's what we do here on our blogs. We link to information to back up our posts. But, Mr. Horowitz is new to the whole blog thingy, so maybe he hasn't figured that part out.
With actual facts in hand, it would appear that rather than being a leader of Islamic Jihad, a terrorist in our midst, and a personal hero of mine, Sami Al-Arian is actually just an asshole with repellant political ideas and a big mouth. Kind of like someone else that comes to mind...
[Note to Mr. Horowitz: Brian Linse is my real name. My personal blog is AintNoBadDude, where I also post under my real name, and my e-mail is havona2-at-hotmail.com. I also live in LA and would be happy to buy you a cup of coffee and disagree with you in person. We met once in the mid-90's, and I found you to be an intelligent, interesting, and kind man. What happened? I've always been a prick, so there's nothing new here.]