Ellen Ratner and Gareth Schweitzer attempt to criticize me in their article “Removing Norquist’s burkha” (WorldNetDaily, May 31) for a series of sins. I count 10 attacks, and each is a falsehood. One is always aware of one’s very real deficiencies and failures – and thus, being attacked for things one didn’t do is only mildly annoying, and as Churchill said, like being shot at without effect.
The personal attacks are all borrowed without attribution from an article that printed in the New Republic last fall. I am not angry at Ms. Ratner, but disappointed that she could have avoided this embarrassment by simply calling me on the phone. She did not make any effort to do this. To its credit, the New Republic immediately published a letter to the editor in the following issue that exposed their original article as a tissue of lies. I have posted this letter and it is a sufficient rebuttal to both the New Republic article and its repetition by Ratner and Schweitzer.
Ellen Ratner writes that I want to “bring Islamic fundamentalists into the Republican Party without regard to how they feel about terrorism or Americans, let alone Republicans.” This is not true. And it is silly. It is, however, a sad lie that a handful of bigots have tried to spread to attack President Bush and others. These bigots have had very little success in getting this nonsense published, but sadly Ellen Ratner allowed herself to be used here.
The truth is that I share President Bush and President Reagan’s view that the Republican Party and the conservative movement should reach out to Americans of all faiths and all ethnic backgrounds. We are a nation of immigrants and this is a strength and part of our national greatness. I believe that the Republican values of individual liberty are best for the nation and for all individuals.
I wrote an article in 2000 for the American Spectator pointing out that Muslims in America have traditionally voted Republican. President George W. Bush reached out in the 2000 election and won more than 70 percent of the Muslim vote. Bush’s leadership and outreach is a model of how Republicans can and should reach out to all Americans – not by pandering as the Democrats do, but by highlighting how conservative values are best for all Americans.
Are there some Muslims who do not like America’s commitment to individual liberty? Certainly. There are some Methodists like that too. I went to college at Harvard and met bunches of Americans who don’t like America one bit. People like that are not welcome and would not wish to be in the Republican party. There is a place for such idiots. A key aide to former House Speaker Tip O’Neill said at a private dinner party years ago that there were 20 members of Congress that actually wanted the United States to lose the Cold War. None of them were Republicans.
The article claims that I organized meetings between President Bush and Muslims who are anti-American. No, never. Here, the writers are misreading the New Republic article. The author of the NR article knew that the claim that I had recommended or chosen certain Muslim leaders to meet with Bush wasn’t true. So if you read his article carefully, he never said it. He only implied the falsehood. President Bush’s White House sets up its own meetings and the Secret Service is there to keep out any bad guys. They are professionals. They didn’t ask for my recommendations.
The Ratner-Schweitzer column claims that I have represented the government of Qatar. Here, sadly, they repeat a lie that certain racists have been spreading for months. They have claimed that I have been paid as much as a million dollars a month by some Arab or Muslim country or group – it changes from time to time, but always with swarthy-looking people involved. No. Not true. The racists believe that a white guy would only work with foreign-looking types if he were being paid truckloads. But I don’t share their prejudices, and I work without pay or favor with many groups of Americans: orthodox Jews, Filipinos, Indians, African Americans and Hispanics.
I serve as a volunteer on the board of directors of the Islamic Institute, a foundation that promotes free markets, religious liberty, democracy and a free press. The Institute co-sponsors an annual conference in Doha, Qatar, to promote liberty in the Muslim world. This year, at the conference, the head of the World Trade Organization spoke on free trade, four U.S. congressmen spoke on panels, the American ambassador opened the conference and the U.S. military provided a tour of the military base that is the largest pre-positioning of American military equipment outside Europe.
The University of Qatar contributed $150,000 to help fund part of the conference. Ms. Ratner suggests that I got some or all of that money. No. The Islamic Institute rents space from Americans for Tax Reform – as do several groups. In the past, I have given free office space to Toward Tradition, an orthodox Jewish group run by Rabbi Daniel Lapin. Anyone who doesn’t like the religion of people I rent to can go to Hell.
I would recommend an article that I wrote on the progress that Qatar is making in holding local elections – women both voted and ran for office. Ratner misquotes the article. The article is now more than a year old and all the cheerful trends in Qatar have continued. Progress has moved Qatar in the Wall Street Journal and Heritage Foundation’s “2002 Index of Economic Freedom” to the “Mostly Free” category. It was exciting this year to sit with Ed Feulner, the president of the Heritage Foundation and the emir of Qatar and hear them talk about how Qatar can continue to open up its economy.
A few decades ago, much of Latin America was run by dictators and many believed that democracy and economic liberty could not take root there. Today, Fidel Castro is almost alone in his socialism and despotism. Today, much of the Muslim world is run by despots. It is important to America that groups like the Islamic Institute reach out into the Muslim world to promote democracy and economic freedom. With President Bush’s leadership, we can and will make the world freer, safer and forcefully reject religious and ethnic bigotry.
Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform, a coalition of taxpayer groups, individuals and businesses opposed to higher taxes at both the federal, state and local levels.