Accuracy in Media

Blogs were abuzz over a Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) campaign to pressure Boeing over its advertising in National Review. It seems CAIR was offended over National Review selling two books highly critical of Islam and the Prophet Mohammed. They were The Life and Religion of Mohammed by Fr. J. L. Menezes and Srdja Trifkovic’s Sword of the Prophet. The books were actually being sold by the NR Book Service which is run by a third party.

Soon CAIR pressured Boeing via a letter writing campaign, and the books disappeared from National Review’s linked book service site, leading the blogosphere to conclude that NR had capitulated. Given the likelihood that the income from Boeing’s advertising is surely much greater than the sales of the two books, one can certainly be sympathetic to NR’s situation even if one opposes the banning of sales of certain books. (According to that logic, CAIR should be campaigning against Amazon, and every library and bookstore selling the books.)

Soon, CAIR was claiming victory over the issue with National Review when the books disappeared from the online store. CAIR spokeswoman Rabiah Ahmed told AIM that they were always certain that Boeing indeed had stood for principles of diversity and fairness.  CAIR also told us that Boeing promised to keep the group’s concerns in mind when it came to any further advertising in National Review. 

Of course, it’s part of the public relations strategy of corporations to enunciate such concerns. We wanted to get a comment directly from Boeing on the matter so we contacted Boeing spokesperson Anne F. Eisle,  who gave us this statement: “The Boeing Company values religious freedom and promotes cultural diversity among our employees, customers and communities in which we operate.  Boeing’s advertising appears in many venues and is not an endorsement of the editorial content or activities of the broadcast outlets or print media in which it appears.”

This apparently has always been their position: Boeing has nothing to do with the editorial policy nor endorses any such policy in any publication it advertises in. Indeed, it seems odd that CAIR would even attempt to target Boeing. Every day companies advertise in newspapers and it is generally understood that this doesn’t say anything about whether they agree with everything published in the paper. The statement also does not indicate that Boeing pressured NR in any way or that they threatened to drop advertising.

But what does NR have to say? A lot of people were talking about the NR without having any response from them. National Review’s Jim Fowler declined to speak to AIM about the matter, referring us instead to a “statement” made by Rich Lowry on “The Corner” blog.  That statement says in part: “Here is what happened: A National Review Book Service e-mail blast for the book ‘The Life And Religion of Mohammed’ by Rev. J.L Menezes was sent out a couple of weeks ago to the magazine’s (opted-in) e-mail list. The ad copy in the e-mail, which invoked ‘the dark mind of Mohammed’ among other things, was written by author Robert Spencer. But it went out under the name of a member of NR’s publishing staff, who should have, but didn’t review it. The book service is a joint project with a publisher who has been responsible for what books to feature in this service and how best to publicize them. So, National Review didn’t sit down and say, ‘Hey, let’s have a public fight over Mohammed and aggressively market books about him,’ then reverse course.”

Lowry also added, “In contrast, Robert Spencer and some others on the right feel very strongly that it is important to discredit Mohammed and Islam as such in order to win the war on terror. That’s certainly their prerogative, but it is not the tack NR has taken, even as we have vigorously attacked Islamic terrorism and supported the war against it. CAIR has been agitating for us to apologize for weeks, but we obviously aren’t going to apologize for a position that isn’t our own. We are, of course, more than happy to defend our own actual positions against CAIR , or any other noxious grievance group.”

National Review took the opportunity, therefore, to differentiate themselves from conservatives who believe Islam is the problem. In this they have common ground with authors like Jerome Corsi who in the preface to his recent book “Atomic Iran,” writes: “I firmly believe that Islam is a genuine and important religion?Islam rightly qualifies as one of the world’s greatest and most successful religions ever. The hijacking of Islam by radical terrorists is what I consider despicable. The evil done by these radical terrorists proclaiming Islam has nothing to do with true Islam.”

National Review’s editorial stance, however, doesn’t preclude them from selling “The Sword and the Prophet,” which is currently being sold on their affiliated online store. And this ironically after CAIR claimed victory and other conservatives chastised National Review. (For some reason the Menezes book is missing in action, although because NR isn’t talking, we won’t likely find out more on that.)

This wasn’t CAIR’s first campaign against a book. In 2000, for example, they launched a failed campaign against “The Terrorist,” written by Caroline B. Cooney and published by Scholastic Inc. (Nasdaq: SCHL), In a letter to Scholastic President Richard Robinson, CAIR asked that the book be recalled.  Scholastic’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Communication Judy Corman wrote in part: “Taking the book as a whole, as a novel is intended to be considered, we believe the book represents a contribution to the dialogue about commonly held attitudes and preconceived notions.”

CAIR’s bugaboo is over the propagation of “stereotypes” of Muslims. The organization, however, seems oblivious to the stereotypes it helps indirectly and directly to perpetuate through its participation in conferences that feature speakers who voice support of suicide bombing and through the participation of its own leaders in terrorist activities. Indeed, we’ve not heard any concern from CAIR over the Islamic Society of North America’s online web store’s promotion of books by suicide-bombing-supporter Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi.

Ironically, the very same month that CAIR was concerned over National Review’s alleged propagation of Islamic stereotypes, Ghassan Elashi became the third CAIR leader to be convicted on federal terrorism charges since 9-11.  As WorldNetDaily previously reported, The Associated Press report about the conviction of Elashi did not mention that he was the founder and a board member of Texas chapter of CAIR.

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