Ok - so maybe the above headline is a bit... provocative... to get your attention.
But while it is something of an exaggeration - in reality - it is all too accurate.
In an article about two Muslim clerics in Houston, the New York Times claims in a highly inaccurate headline that these two individuals have created a moderate middle ground between materialism of America and Islamic extremism. And the original headline on the website which is no longer available - was even more blatantly false.
June 18, 2006
U.S. Muslim Clerics Seek a Modern Middle Ground
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
Every seat in the auditorium at the University of Houston was taken, and the crowd was standing in the back and spilling out into the lobby, straining to hear. The two men onstage began to speak to the crowd in Arabic, with such flawless accents and rarefied Koranic grammar that some audience members gaped when they heard the Arabic equivalent of the king's English coming from the mouths of two Americans.
Sheik Hamza Yusuf, in a groomed goatee and sports jacket, looked more like a hip white college professor than a Middle Eastern sheik. Imam Zaid Shakir, a lanky African-American in a long brown tunic, looked as if he would fit in just fine on the streets of Damascus.
Both men are converts to Islam who spent years in the Middle East and North Africa being mentored by formidable Muslim scholars. They have since become leading intellectual lights for a new generation of American Muslims looking for homegrown leaders who can help them learn how to live their faith without succumbing to American materialism or Islamic extremism.
But with their words - and their actions - the two clerics clearly prove that this is a lie.
First, Mr. Yusuf:
Mr. Yusuf once was a source of the kind of zealous rhetoric he now denounces. He said in 1995 that Judaism was based on the belief that "God has this bias to this small little tribe in the middle of the desert," which makes it "a most racist religion." On Sept. 9, 2001, he said the United States "stands condemned" for invading Muslim lands.
He has since changed his tune - not for spin, he says, but on principle. "Our community has failed, and I include myself in that," he told an audience in a downtown theater in Elizabeth, N.J., this year.
"When I started speaking in the early 90's, our discourse was not balanced.
"We were focused so often on what was negative about this country," he said. "We ended up alienating some people. I've said some things about other religions that I regret now. I think they were incorrect."
So... he realizes that talking too much about what is negative about his country ended up alienating people - so he now he tries to 'balance' his discourse to better sell his message. And when he called Judaism 'the most racist religion' - he MAY have been incorrect.
Now for Mr. Shakir:
While leading a mosque in New Haven in 1992, Mr. Shakir wrote a pamphlet that cautioned Muslims not to be co-opted by American politics. He wrote, "Islam presents an absolutist political agenda, or one which doesn't lend itself to compromise, nor to coalition building."
While he did not denounce Muslims who take part in politics, he pointed out the effectiveness of "extrasystemic political action" - like the "armed struggle" that brought about the rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Asked now about his past, he said, "To be perfectly honest, I don't regret anything I've done or said."
But it is at the end of the article where he makes it very clear what their vision of this country's future is:
He said he still hoped that one day the United States would be a Muslim country ruled by Islamic law, "not by violent means, but by persuasion."
"Every Muslim who is honest would say, I would like to see America become a Muslim country," he said. "I think it would help people, and if I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be a Muslim.
So this modern, middle ground - which is what the New York Times terms their views - calls for mullahs and ayatollahs to run this country under the full control of Islamic law; a modern middle ground that would destroy every political, religious and civil right we have in this country.
I can only wonder what Ms. Goldstein would have had to say about Adolph Hitler when he presented his 'moderate' face to the equally gullible press back in the 1920's.