The media and the Muslim community should pay less attention to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim American student at Columbia Law School argues.
"Believe it or not, there are many of us American Muslims who do not think that the answer to fixing our image problem is to constantly issue press releases and file law suits," writes Khurram Dara in an Examiner opinion piece.
Dara acknowledged the problem with Islam's sullied image in America, but proposed a much simpler solution: "We stop relying on groups like CAIR, and just live our lives."
"It's time for Muslims, and the media for that matter, to care less about CAIR."
News releases and other tactics employed by the national advocacy group don't resonate with the public and seem to make little difference. Muslim activists should be more aggressive in denouncing terrorism and calling out Muslim organizations that fail to do the same.
CAIR's record shows a consistent refusal to condemn Hizballah and Hamas
"You see," Dara writes, "the key for American Muslims is for us to show, not just tell, our fellow Americans that we are just like them." He recommends that Muslims have a 4th of July barbeque, join the fantasy football league at the office or volunteer with their children's schools.
"I know we make up a small portion of the population in America, but that is precisely the reason we cannot afford to self-segregate and hide behind useless advocacy groups."
Dara makes his point without delving into CAIR's blemished record. It was named an unindicted co-conspirator in a terror-financing trial which found a Muslim charity and five of its executives guilty of funneling millions of dollars to Hamas. Rather than acknowledging its own founding members' ties to a U.S. Hamas support network, which landed it on the conspirator list, CAIR blasted the government's move as "McCarthyistic."
A circuit judge later rejected CAIR's petition to be removed from the co-conspirator list, ruling that there was "ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR," with Hamas.
Despite this, CAIR still offers itself as the voice for the American-Muslim community. It's a mantle Dara believes no one organization can claim. "The truth is," he writes, "saying CAIR represents the views of American Muslims is like saying the ACLU represents the views of all Constitutional lawyers. The two are related, but hardly representative."