Where is Pelosi on Muslim Aide’s False Hate-Crime Claim?

When House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi hired Center for American Progress VP and Editor-in-Chief of ThinkProgress.org Faiz Shakir as her new media director and senior advisor last spring, many blogs were quick to point out Shakir’s dodgy history (“dodgy” is being way too kind; check out this FrontPageMag exposé).

Shakir’s history is appalling. But now that he’s working for the House Democrat leader, does he have a duty to act more responsibly than he has in the past? And more than that, does Rep. Pelosi have a responsibility when a senior advisor defames Americans and helps spread a phony “hate crime” claim?

Apparently not.

On March 21 of this year, Shaima Alawadi, a 32-year-old mother of five who was an Iraqi immigrant, was found brutally murdered in her home in El Cajon, a city in San Diego County. A note left beside the body called Alawadi a “terrorist” who should “go back” to her country (an odd thing to order someone to do before you murder them). Police didn’t buy the “hate crime” angle, and, interestingly, CAIR San Diego, normally on the forefront of race-baiting and finger-pointing, also held off on declaring it a definite hate crime, most likely because CAIR knew the community too well. There was ample evidence that the Alawadi household was in turmoil over an upcoming forced marriage that would have wed their 17-year-old daughter to a cousin. There were also reports that Shaima Alawadi was considering a divorce (in a Muslim home? She might as well have worn a bacon bikini to bed).

Not waiting for the body to get cold, Faiz Shakir went on Russia Today (RT) that same week to declare that the Alawadi murder was “certainly” a hate crime in which the perpetrator(s) were “moved” to action by “right-wingers” who “condition” people with their “climate of fear and hate.” Not satisfied with merely defaming conservatives, he also blamed “corporate America” for covering up the crime.

Shakir was not going to wait for the facts. He saw an opportunity to defame conservative Americans, and he took it. He exploited a tragedy for purely partisan aims. But if his actions demonstrated partisan callousness, they also showed pure stupidity. If CAIR San Diego was hesitant to call the matter a hate crime, maybe, just maybe, a little caution was warranted.

Caution would have been sensible. Last month, police arrested Alawadi’s husband. No hate crime, just a Muslim husband practicing his “family values.”

I wrote to Shakir on November 10th. I contacted him via his regular email address, and through Facebook (he has an active Facebook page).

Dear Mr. Shakir,

My name is David Stein, a writer and documentary filmmaker in L.A. I’m writing regarding the case of Shaima Alawadi, the Iraqi mother tragically murdered in El Cajon, CA, earlier this year. Appearing on RT in March, you definitively referred to the crime as a “hate crime,” and you blamed it on the influence of the “right wing” and “corporate America.”

Many conservatives believed at the time that the crime appeared to resemble a domestic one more than a hate crime.

Well, it turns out that the right wingers were, well, right. And you appear to have rather badly jumped the gun by making false assumptions about the case and unfairly accusing other Americans of being somehow complicit in a hate crime that was apparently not a hate crime after all.

Any on-the-record comment, sir?

David Stein

I also made two calls to Nancy Pelosi’s office seeking comment. Would she have anything to say about the fact that her senior advisor defamed Americans for being complicit in a hate crime that turned out not to be a hate crime? Would she have any comment about the fact that her senior advisor felt he knew better than local law enforcement, and definitively declared the Alawadi case a hate crime, thus publicly spreading disinformation and sowing fear in California’s Iraqi-American community?

No response from Shakir. No response from Pelosi or her people.

Cowards. Despicable cowards. I hope a blogger with better connections that I can keep the heat on.

Below is the video of the RT interview. For those who’d rather not waste a minute of their lives watching this dreck, here’s a transcript of the relevant part:

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Shakir: Well, you see what I think is a climate of fear and hate that has conditioned a few crazy killers to act out with their fear and hate. I think in both these cases (Alawadi in California, and the Trayvon Martin case in Florida) you saw these stereotypes and these prejudices that I think we see in larger society inculcated by, I believe, a lot of the far-right, kind of governing a climate, and then you see some actors who are moved by that climate, in my opinion, and that’s certainly what we saw in California.

There are those few, and I believe that, you know, some on the far right, we’ve documented this with The Islamophobia Network, people who are out there engineering and manufacturing a campaign of hate on every given day….I think those are the people we’ve got to push back on and it’s these instances which are educating moments to get people to understand this isn’t just rhetorical games, when people are saying, ‘oh, Muslims are a threat to America,’ this actually could have serious and severe, and really the worst repercussions you can possibly imagine.

Host: It’s not being treated as a terrorist act or a hate crime.

Shakir: Yeah, and I think that hopefully it will. We learned motive through the note (the one left beside Alawadi’s body).

(Regarding why the murder isn’t being covered as a hate crime) I think that it’s probably the worst of corporate America’s influence over this, because they’re looking at viewers, and they’re looking at numbers, and they don’t care whether the story’s right or not.

Host: We need to wake people up to this.

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