Never let it be said that this column doesn't strive to give the people what they want.
Recently, one of my loyal readers noted in a letter to this newspaper that during the Democratic Party's winter meeting, a Muslim imam "called the U.S. occupiers and oppressors" while giving the invocation.
"Why doesn't Dusty Rhoades write about that?" the reader wondered.
The Muslim in question is named Imam Husham Al-Husainy, and he runs something called the Karbalaa Islamic Education Center in Dearborn, Mich. Here is the prayer he gave, with annotations:
"In the name of God, the most merciful, the most compassionate." (This is how most Muslim prayers begin. It's sort of a spiritual throat-clearing to get the attention of the Almighty.) "We thank you, God, to bless us among your creations. We thank you, God, to make us as a great nation." (OK, so far, so good, even if the English is a little off.) ...
"We thank you God, to send us your messages through our father Abraham and Moses and Jesus and Muhammad." (Wow. That's a lot of messengers.) "Through you, God, we unite." (Isn't there something similar in the Pledge of Allegiance?) "So guide us to the right path. The path of the people you bless, not the path of the people you doom." (Right paths are good, aren't they?) ...
"Help us, God, to liberate and fill this earth with justice and peace and love and equality." (Well, that justice and peace and love and equality stuff certainly has to go. We can't have anything like that in a prayer.) "And help us to stop the war and violence, and oppression and occupation. Amen."
Hmm. I've been through that several times, and it's pretty vague about the whole "oppression and occupation" thing, especially after the blessing part and the "thanking to make us a great nation." In fact, had this been delivered by a white non-Muslim in a suit rather than a dark-skinned guy in a turban, the whole thing would be generic enough that it wouldn't cause much of a disturbance at your average Rotary Club.
About the only threatening part about it was the bit about "the people you doom," and if you're put off your feed by that, then you really need to stay away from one of those fire and brimstone Baptists. They can really get rolling on the subject of doom.
Some commentators seem to have read into this bland invocation everything from a call for the destruction of Israel to a demand that America convert to Islam, even though those exact words are never used. Ironically, these are many of the same people who insist that George Dubbya Bush never claimed Iraq was an "imminent threat" because he didn't use those exact words.
The real problem people seem to have is not with the prayer, but the fellow delivering it, and here they actually have a point. Husainy has indeed appeared at rallies for Hamas and Hezbollah, rallies in which anti-Semitic slogans were chanted and the destruction of Israel was indeed called for. He's also, as a Shi'ite, quite a friend of the hardline Iranian government.
So, yes, the Democrats never should have had this terrorist-supporting anti-Semite speaking at their meeting. Somebody was really asleep at the switch for that one.
All that said, it should be noted that the Democrats aren't the only folks taken in by Husainy. In 2003, he and his followers were gung-ho for the Iraq war and cheered for President Bush to take out Saddam Hussein.
According to conservative New York Post columnist Debbie Schlussel, a vocal critic of both Husainy and the Democrats' invitation to him, "Hussainy was one of the imams shown in photographs around the world being hugged by President Bush after we invaded Iraq, and he was invited to the Pentagon to confer with top officials," including Iraq war architect Paul Wolfowitz.
This may explain why we haven't heard more out of the White House about this, and why the Republicans might want to be a little leery of trying to hang Husainy around the necks of the Democrats.
Now, my turn to ask a question.
Week before last, a guy named Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari, aka "Michael Mixon," was indicted in New York for conspiring to funnel some $175,000 to terrorist camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Associated Press also reports that, according to the Federal Election Commission, Alshtari/Mixon is a major contributor to the National Republican Congressional Committee as well as being named as a member of the NRCC's "White House Business Advisory Committee." He's also listed as an "Inner Circle Member for Life" of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
So why aren't right-wingers writing letters about that?