Recently Barbara Boxer (D-CA) rescinded an award given to the Sacramento director of the Council of Arab-Islamic Relations. Now an open letter is being circulated by Progressive Christians Uniting that calls for Senator Boxer to return the award and apologize to CAIR.
It is unfortunate that we live at a time when a growing xenophobia is enveloping our nation. That there is a strong extremist element within parts of the Arab and Islamic world is not to be denied, but if we're going to end the violence it will take people of good will, and CAIR has been a good partner, as is demonstrated in the letter of support below:
Please Reject Islamophobia and Restore the Good Name of CAIR(Council on American Islamic Relations)
Dear Sen. Boxer:
As interfaith leaders and concerned citizens, we are alarmed that you hastily rescinded the appropriate recognition your office had given to Basim Elkarra, who represents the Council on American Islamic Relations in Sacramento.
You took this action rashly after the award came under intense attack from Joe Kaufman, Steve Emerson, and others who make it their particular business to discredit and defame Islamic organizations based in the U.S. You did not consult people like ourselves before rescinding the award. We could and would have freely and accurately characterized CAIR as a responsible and highly-esteemed force for reconciliation and sanity, both in international affairs and in deepening interfaith understanding here in the United States.
Our purpose, however, is not to scold but to ask very simply that you not put CAIR at further risk of isolation and defamation. You can do this by stating clearly that you have not found any evidence to the effect that CAIR endorses terrorism or offers support and comfort to groups that engage in terrorism. The FBI will be happy to assist you in this.
We believe that the staff who advised you to rescind the award to Mr. Elkarra did so out of a panic response, recognizing that people like Kaufman and Emerson are capable of doing damage to your own reputation and exposing you to ridicule for allegedly consorting with a questionable organization. We believe that much greater damage to your reputation is being done every single day that your actual and grave mistake�rescinding the award rather than taking time to discover the facts�is allowed to stand. But more than this, we are profoundly disturbed by the immense long-term damage now being done to CAIR�s reputation, to intergroup relations, and to American principles as a result of a tempest precipitated by some extreme right-wing Islamophobes.
We in California have particularly sad memories of what can happen when a minority group is unfairly and unjustly isolated, accused, and convicted in the public�s mind as disloyal and dangerous. The internment camps for Japanese Americans stand as a stark reminder of the danger and tragedy that loom near when entire groups are subjected to character assassination and false charges.
Please show us that you understand the danger, that your principles remain strong, and that you are committed to a truly open society in which a particular faith tradition or ethnic background may never again be automatically equated with disloyalty. State clearly and unambiguously what we all know and attest to be true: that CAIR is a worthy participant in our ongoing democratic discourse and in our interfaith community life.
To sign, please visit http://www.fvcommunity.org/cair/cairletter.html.