Islamists and their hyper-partisan media allies have been waging a smear campaign against foreign policy expert Dr. Walid Phares, who is advising Donald Trump and previously advised Mitt Romney. Now, the so-called "case" against Phares is in flames, burning the credibility of the media outlets and commentators who chose to put their political motivations ahead of the truth.
The character assassination campaign against Phares uncoincidentally pops up around presidential election time. It has two main pillars: That Phares is somehow responsible for massacres by Lebanese Christian militias and that he's an "Islamophobe," despite his close working relationships with many Muslims including one who wrote an article titled "Walid Phares: A Hero to Muslim Liberals."
False Claims that Phares' Hands are Covered with the Blood of the Innocent
The first absurd line of attack is simply a regurgitation of a Mother Jones article by Adam Serwer that claims Phares was linked to a Christian extremist militia in Lebanon before he emigrated to the U.S. in 1990 and taught extremism that is responsible for its massacres.
In Lebanon, Phares became known for his advocacy of democratic pluralism, writing his first book about it age 22 in 1979. He also led a small political party in East Beirut named the Social Democratic Party. The Christians of Lebanon—the good, the bad and the ugly—united in the face of the brutal civil war. The political parties formed a coalition under the name of the Lebanese Front that included his small party and he served as its foreign affairs chief for two years in 1986.
Phares' colleague in the coalition was Dr. Charles Malik, a former president of the U.N. General Assembly and co-author of the International Charter of Human Rights.
The military component—the militias—were collectively known as the Lebanese Forces. Phares did not issue even one order to them. He did not join one battle. He did not provide one gun. And there's no record that he ever justified the massacres or urged human rights abuses by anyone.
Just the opposite, he called for a federal secular system and launched a workers’ union, a student group and a minorities federation. His push for democracy within the community where he was born and raised resulted in him being kidnapped by militiamen upset with his articles. He says he was often threatened by these militias until the day he left the country.
Unable to connect him to the massacres by actually connecting him to the massacres, the author of the piece says he provoked the bloodshed by supporting the creation of a Lebanese Christian state, as most Lebanese Christians wanted. By that standard, any supporter of an independent Israeli, Palestinian or Kurdish state is responsible for massacres committed in the name of the cause.
And now here's the kicker: The article partially relies on the words of Toni Nissi, who has just published a letter expressing that he is "appalled and totally disgusted" at how his words were manipulated. He says the author, Adam Serwer, interviewed him for four hours, supposedly for a "documentary" about Lebanon. Three sentences then showed up in his article that—according to Nissi—"maliciously distorted the form and core of what was discussed in a cheap and repulsive attempt to attack Professor Walid Phares."
When you examine the original Mother Jones article, you don't have a well-researched informative article. You have about 2,500 words of throwing enough crap at the wall in the hopes that some of it sticks (to put it a bit more politely).
Phares isn't to blame for the massacres of innocent Muslims in Lebanon—so what about all the repetitious chants of "Islamophobe?"
A So-Called "Islamophobe" Who Advocates for Muslim Human Rights and Freedom
"Islamophobe" is the favored slur favored slur of Islamist groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and apologists for the Iranian regime and their media allies to whom they feed biased stories.
Phares criticizes CAIR's leaders for things like being linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and discussing how to use deception when they didn't know the FBI was recording them. CAIR responds by calling him an "Islamophobe."
CAIR was even once caught teaching an audience to take advantage of how the "media in the United States is very gullible" and "especially, as a Muslim, if you have something to say, they will come running to you." CAIR said to exploit the fact that the media "does little primary research" and "they will expect you to do their work. Let them."
Dr. Phares' rolodex is filled with the contact information for liberal Muslims who oppose Islamism and communicate with him regularly. A central pillar of his worldview is that there's an intersection between U.S. national security interests and human rights in the Muslim world — where the West must align with Muslims who seek genuine democratic reform and peace. His message of empowering Muslims is the polar opposite of bigotry or "Islamophobia" — in fact, it is part of the antidote.
Facts and fair-mindedness are of no concern to Islamists who have long used "Islamophobia" as a political weapon, even against Muslims who stand in their way. Nor are facts and fair-mindedness of much concern to hyper-partisans who facilitate their agenda by deceptively carving the country into categories of ally and enemy.
If those shouting "Islamophobia" actually were concerned about anti-Muslim sentiment, they'd exhale a sigh of relief that he has the ears of GOP presidential candidates.
The vindication of Dr. Walid Phares is a sad testament to the state of today's politics. An influential ally for many Muslims, at home and abroad, had his named tarred by Islamists and hyper-partisans whose excitement over political dynamite subsumes any impulse to do responsible fact-checking and critical thinking.
The campaign against Phares is a microcosm of a broader growing problem in America where hyper-partisanship and political correctness have made it extremely difficult to have a meaningful, nuanced conversation about the Islamist threat.
Those who try put themselves at professional risk. And the Islamists and their allies are exploiting these weaknesses in the West's political discourse every step of the way.
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. Read more, contact or arrange a speaking engagement.