By Ben Barrack on November 22, 2014
Former George W. Bush Deputy National Security Advisor Elliot Abrams (2005-09) and former Chief Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson (2001-06) squared off recently over the issue of Islam. Abrams had a problem with referring to Islam as a ‘religion of peace’ and said Bush “was lying about the problem” whenever he said it. Gerson took the opposing view.
According to Christian Post:
Two former George W. Bush administration officials, Elliot Abrams and Michael Gerson, debated Monday whether it is appropriate for presidents to call Islam a religion of peace.
“What is authentic Islam? Is ISIS an authentic form of Islam, or is it not? I think it’s very important that the United States government shut-up about that question,” Abrams, senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, declared at the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s Faith Angle Forum.
“It used to annoy me enormously when President [George W.] Bush, for whom I was working, would say, ‘Islam is a religion of peace,’” continued Abrams, who served as deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser.
As the article points out, that comment about Bush referring to Islam as a religion of peace very well may have been a shot at Gerson specifically. Here is Bush inside the Islamic Center of Washington on September 17, 2001, just six days after America was attacked. At the time, Gerson was the head of of Bush’s speech writing team:
Just three days earlier – on September 14th – Bush delivered a speech attributed to Gerson. It was inside the Washington National Cathedral, as Shoebat.com reported. While Gerson may or may not have had anything to do with the extremely ill-advised decision to have Bush speak there (because he did so alongside Muzammil Siddiqi, the President of the largest Muslim Brotherhood group in the U.S. at the time), Gerson is credited with writing Bush’s speech that day:
Asked to cite his favorite addresses, Mr. Gerson pointed to those that immediately followed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, specifically a line from an address given three days afterward, at the National Cathedral: “Grief and tragedy and hatred are only for a time. Goodness, remembrance, and love have no end. And the Lord of life holds all who die, and all who mourn.”
As proud as Gerson may have been with that excerpt, he and anyone involved should have been ashamed that Muzammil Siddiqi spoke from the pulpit of the Cathedral that day. You can watch the video here (Siddiqi takes the pulpit at about the 1 hour mark, just after “America the Beautiful” is sung):
Leader of largest Muslim Brotherhood group in the U.S. at National Cathedral on 9/14/01.
William Murray of the Religious Freedom Coalition (RFC), was in attendance that day and wrote the following about the experience:
My stomach churned as I watched Muzammil Siddiqi, the Imam for the Islamic Society of North America, stand on stage with President George W. Bush in the National Cathedral. Imam Siddiqi is a radical extremist who has participated in anti-American demonstrations in front of the White House as recently as October of 2000. He has in the past called for a Jihad or holy war against this nation. While the Christian and Jewish leaders at the event prayed for our nation and for the dead and dying from the attack, Imam Siddiqi did not do so. At no time did he condemn the acts of the terrorists nor did he pray for America or for the families of those who lost their lives in the Jihad attack against the United States.
Instead of pointing to that speech as one of his favorites, Gerson may have been better served by resigning instead of agreeing to write it. It can be argued that the decision to have Bush and ISNA President Muzammil Siddiqi share the pulpit that day helped set the stage for the recent Muslim prayer service inside that Cathedral on November 14th of this year. Siddiqi’s successor with ISNA – Mohammed Magid – issued the Islamic call to prayer from the pulpit.
Here is Siddiqi’s speech from a Christian Cathedral, with Bush in the audience, just THREE DAYS AFTER 9/11:
If Obama “evolved” on gay marriage, the National Cathedral certainly “evolved” on the issue of Muslim inclusiveness.
Back to the debate between Gerson and Abrams, which took place just three days after that Muslim prayer service…
The “real response” to Bush, and later President Barack Obama, declaring the Islam is a religion of peace, he said, should be “where is their theology degree from?”
“For American government officials to be telling Muslims, ‘I know real Islam’ … is ridiculous,” he added. “… It would be an outrage about Judaism and Christianity as well. … For government officials who are 99 percent Christians to be trying to find what is authentic in Islam seems to me to be a fool’s errand.”
Abrams’ comments came during the question and answer session and were not part of his prepared remarks. The whole session lasted about three hours and he made similar remarks later in the session in response to another reporter’s question.
When presidents say Islam is a religion of peace, “the average American thinks this is crap,” he said, because the average American reasons that “the only people doing the beheadings are Muslims, so don’t tell me it’s all wonderful.”
To Abrams’ point, the Caliph of ISIS Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has a PhD in Islamic studies, which makes him far more qualified to determine what Islam truly is than any Christian, stealth jihadist (or Obama) who asserts that al-Baghdadi is not practicing the real Islam and that his group is “not Islamic”, as Obama stated in a speech earlier this year:
Gerson doesn’t appear to have learned anything and doubled down on the same mentality that would have Bush speak alongside a Muslim Brotherhood President inside a Christian Cathedral and then declare “Islam is Peace” three days later from inside a Mosque. After Abrams clearly implied that Gerson made Bush a liar, Gerson responded with a ridiculously absurd morally equivalent argument directed at Nigerian Christians:
By calling Islam a “religion of peace” after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Abrams said, Bush was “basically lying about the problem,” because, … the terrorists “view themselves as good Muslims.”
“How is that exclusively a problem with Islam?” Gerson responded, then mentioned other religious groups, such as Christians in Nigeria, who commit violence in the name of their faith.
That is beyond irresponsible from Gerson. His assertion that Christians in Nigeria – who are fighting for their very existence against Boko Haram – are on equal footing with terrorists, is despicable. As Shoebat.com has reported, Nigerian Christians are being slaughtered mercilessly by Muslims under the Boko Haram banner.
George W. Bush and ISNA President Siddiqi on 9/14/01 at National Cathedral.
Earlier this year, hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram and most – if not all – have already been sold to Muslims. It was the inspiration for the grossly inept #BringBackOurGirls campaign (which was really about distracting Americans from news about the House Select Committee on Benghazi). Would Gerson object to Nigerian Christians or the families of those kidnapped girls slaughtering their captors?
Any acts of violence perpetrated by Christians in Nigeria are in self-defense and should be lauded, not chided.
Gerson is a fool.
Note: Gerson was recruited to the Bush campaign in 1999 by none other than Karl Rove. Perhaps even more so than Gerson, Rove is responsible for the political strategy of reaching out to Muslim Brotherhood leaders like Siddiqi. It was Rove who welcomed Siddiqi and other such leaders into the Oval Office on September 26, 2001, less than two weeks after Bush’s speech alongside Siddiqi at the National Cathedral.
Quoting from an article in the New American:
…sitting right next to President Bush was Muzammil Siddiqi, president of the Islamic Society of North America, who last fall told a Washington crowd chanting pro-Hezbollah slogans, “America has to learn if you remain on the side of injustice, the wrath of God will come.” Days later, after a conservative activist confronted Karl Rove with dossiers about some of Bush’s new friends, Rove replied, according to the activist, “I wish I had known before the event took place.”
In addition to Abrams’ implication that Gerson made Bush a liar, Rove clearly implicated himself as one.