The supposed trauma took place last year: the family of Sumayyah Wyatt, a seven-year-old Muslim second-grader at Seth Boyden Elementary School in Maplewood, New Jersey, claimed that a rogue “Islamophobic” teacher tore off their daughter’s hijab, thereby traumatizing the little girl. The story quickly traveled around the world, and even hijab-wearing Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad, a Maplewood native, weighed in, saying: “This is abuse. Schools should be a haven for all of our kids to feel safe, welcome and protected — no matter their faith.” The only problem was that the whole incident was a misunderstanding, not a hate crime, and was irresponsibly magnified by a victimhood industry desperate to find examples of “racism” and “Islamophobia.” Now, the teacher who was the real victim of this incident is fighting back: she is suing Ibtihaj Muhammad and others for defamation.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that in the immediate aftermath of the incident, Wyatt’s family “sued the school district and the teacher, Tamar Herman.” But now the tables have turned: Herman has “filed a defamation suit in New Jersey’s Superior Court that accuses the Olympian and the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Rights [sic] and its director of causing ‘irreparable harm.’” What The Paper of Record calls the “Council on American-Islamic Rights” is actually the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which seems never to be far away when a “hate crime” has allegedly been committed.
Herman, who suffered grievous professional and personal harm as a result of these cynical and baseless hate-crime claims, is “suing the school district, South Orange-Maplewood, in federal court, claiming it was complicit in what she called ‘relentless discriminatory treatment.’” Her lawsuit states: “What started as a simple misunderstanding between plaintiff, who is Jewish, and one of her second-grade students, who is Muslim, was transformed into defendants’ complicity in a parade of outrageous, false, defamatory and antisemitic statements.” That’s how “hate crime” witch hunts generally go, and it’s refreshing to see one of the targets pushing back.
The charges, the Times claims, “tapped into a deep sense of anxiety among many Muslims, who make up roughly 3% of the state population and have faced an uptick in bias crime.” In reality, FBI hate crime statistics show that Muslims are rarely targeted in such crimes, which happen far more often to Jews and others; what’s more, anti-Muslim hate crimes declined by 42% from 2020 to 2021. But those facts don’t fit the CAIR narrative that Muslims face widespread discrimination and harassment in the United States, and so the facts have to take a back seat.
The narrative in this particular case was that Herman ripped off the little girl’s hijab in a frenzy of hatred and “Islamophobia.” Herman herself, however, explains in the lawsuit “that she ‘brushed’ back a hooded garment that was blocking the student’s eyes, believing that the girl was wearing her typical ‘form-fitting’ hijab underneath. She said she immediately replaced the head covering and apologized to the girl once she realized her error.” She adds that in making their false claims about what happened, Ibtihaj Muhammad and CAIR’s New Jersey chapter were “motivated by a combination of greed and a fierce desire to burnish their brands as fighters against Islamophobia,” and that in the process, they destroyed her career: “her reputation was so damaged that she can never be hired by another public school district.”
Even worse, “the state suit also alleges that Herman is so afraid for her safety in the community where she taught for 20 years and also lived that she has had to permanently move out of her home.” Herman’s lawyer, Erik Dykema, says: “She’s been ostracized by her community.”
Of course. Good Leftists in New Jersey know that ostracism is contagious. If they’re seen in friendly contact with a known “Islamophobe,” their own professional and personal well-being could be in jeopardy. That’s how the Left operates, as Saul Alinsky instructed: freeze a target, isolate it, destroy it, and then build upon that destruction to go after the next target. If Tamar Herman had been successfully smeared as an “Islamophobe,” not only would she be professionally untouchable, but everyone who had anything to do with her would be as well. Thus the fear of stepping out of line has been spread among the populace.
Brava to Tamar Herman for fighting back. All free people should be hoping and praying that she succeeds.