Steve Emerson at the Investigative Project on Terrorism has taken a look at the the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) motion to dismiss Tamar Herman’s defamation lawsuit against it. Predictably, Emerson finds CAIR trying to have it both ways.
Tamar Herman was a New Jersey elementary school teacher who became the subject of a rumor on social media that was started by former Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad. According to the former Olympian’s social media posts, Herman had publicly removed the hijab of one of her students in class, and this could not stand.
As a result, Ibtihaj Muhammad’s’ followers showered Tamar Herman’s place of employment with threats. The school placed Herman on administrative leave, and she felt the need to seek police protection.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations also answered the former Olympian’s call to action by doing what it does best, that is, get on TV. In at least four separate broadcasts, CAIR called for Herman to be fired, even though CAIR knew nothing about what had actually happened, and potentially interfered with an ongoing police investigation.
Tamar Herman not only effectively lost her job, but her career as well, and chose to leave her home out of fear for her safety. And so Tamar Herman sued Ibtihaj Muhammad and CAIR for defamation.
In his overview of CAIR’s motion to dismiss, Emerson draws our attention to this portion of CAIR’s legal filing, in which the organization says that its claims are:
subjective views, epithets, and rhetorical hyperbole used to express the CAIR Foundation’s deeply-held opinions about the Incident and Herman.
Rhetorical hyperbole? Remember that the next time CAIR is on TV calling for someone to be fired. Because the organization apparently does not actually believe that, it is just venting, and it is not news.
CAIR’s lawyers go on to state that everybody knows that CAIR does not really mean what it says. They are just posturing.
“Context is key here. CAIR Foundation’s role as a staunch advocate for Muslim-Americans signals to readers that these underlined statements are not an assertion of objective fact, but as expressions of subjective belief and opinion from an advocate’s point of view.”
CAIR’s Motion to Dismiss – page 32
It is time to realize that CAIR should be treated like any other random Internet dude.
Furthermore, several of the statements were posted on Twitter, where readers expect “a wide range of casual, emotive, and imprecise speech,” and where character limits necessarily prevent a comprehensive account of events. See Sandals Resorts Int’l Ltd. v. Google, Inc., 86 A.D.3d 32, 43 (N.Y. App. Div. 2011) (noting that “[t]he culture of Internet communications . . . has been characterized as encouraging a ‘freewheeling, anything-goes writing style’” and social media statements are thus given less “credence” by readers) – page 27
CAIR has a very high opinion of itself and it very much wants the public to take it seriously, listen to it, and have its demands met. But when faced with a defamation lawsuit, it sings a different tune.
However, there are many examples of CAIR getting on TV to, not just express its opinion, but to get someone fired.
CAIR had TV station WSB mischaracterize a court transcript in order to reverse a legal decision. In the second of two broadcasts about Sharon Dickson, WSB credits itself with influencing the city of Sandy Springs, Georgia to reverse the ruling of Municipal Court Judge Sharon Dickson. After Dickson went to take another job in a different city, WSB broadcast CAIR’s demand that she be pushed out of that position as well.
CAIR was not voicing an opinion; it was trying to get Dickson fired.
CAIR fired Romin Iqbal, its Ohio executive director, and then went on TV to accuse him of being armed and dangerous. CAIR frightened its office staff with the possibility of a violent attack from Iqbal. It accused Iqbal of being part of an espionage operation. It told mosques to be on high alert because of Romin Iqbal. CAIR was not voicing an opinion. It was trying to hurt Iqbal, and even called the police on him.
Oak Lawn Police Officers
17-year-old Hadi Abuatelah resisted arrest by clinging to an illegal, loaded pistol. Although even a child can tell what is going on in the police dash cam video, CAIR is saying that resisting arrest while in possession of a loaded gun is irrelevant. So far, CAIR has succeeded in having charges levied against one of the officers. This isn’t CAIR expressing an opinion. It is CAIR trying to force someone’s termination.
CAIR’s motion claims that context is key. And that is certainly true. Tamar Herman belongs in the context of CAIR’s habitual pattern of trying to get someone fired on TV practically every month.