April 25, 2006
From: Omar Baddar omar_baddar[at]yahoo.com
To: Norman Finkelstein normangf[at]hotmail.com
Subject: RE: Published Response to Chesler/Gabriel – for ur web-site
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2006 21:09:40 -0700 (PDT)
Dear Dr. Finkelstein,
Recently, a woman named Brigitte Gabriel delivered a talk at my university. Her message was that Arabs had inferior moral values (not to mention her more excessively bigoted writings about Muslims, but that’s besides the point). Subsequently, Gabriel has fabricated and widely published an account of what took place at her talk in an article you can find on: http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/….
Phyllis Chesler also wrote an even more delusional version of what took place which appears to be based on Gabriel’s account, though dated a few days earlier in the Washington Times: http://washingtontimes.com/culture/….
I actually was at the event, and know first hand that what Gabriel and Chesler had to say about this is utterly false. Here is what really happened, based on what I saw, and what countless eye-witnesses, video evidence, and the official University of Memphis representatives would confirm. My article was published in the school newspaper.
Political Science Graduate Student and Daily Helmsman Columnist.
Gabriel, Chesler, and their Delusions and Fabrications
By Omar Baddar
Last Month, an overtly bigoted speaker named Brigitte Gabriel was invited by Dr. David Patterson of the Judaic Studies department to deliver a talk at the University of Memphis. As I’ve quoted her in a previous column, Gabriel explicitly describes Islam as an enemy of America, Arabs as barbaric, and Jews as being genetically incapable of confrontation. All such quotes could be found in her articles on Front Page Magazine’s web-site.
What’s new is that Gabriel has fabricated a story about what actually took place when she came to speak, in an article titled “Muslims Muzzling Memphis.” Her fabrication was seconded by Dr. Phyllis Chesler, a woman who refers to India as an “Arab” country, among other obviously ignorant mistakes in her book. They have both managed to widely publish their delusional account nationally, in the Washington Times, Front Page Magazine, the Mike Fleming radio show in Memphis, and numerous other internet publications. Thankfully, myself, numerous witnesses, video evidence, and the official representatives of the University of Memphis confirm their narrative to be utter fiction.
Chesler starts out her article saying “It took 10 police officers to keep order last month when Brigitte Gabriel gave a speech at Memphis University.” That statement contains two lies. First is the implication that there was disorder that required police intervention, and the second is the number of officers Chesler came up with. As Curt Guenther, Director of Communications Services at the University of Memphis points out, “There were only three University Police officers present at Ms. Gabriel’s talk, NOT 10 as one published account incorrectly stated.”
Then, I’m personally falsely described as a “Muslim man who has been a long-term graduate student” followed by a misquote of what I actually said. Before the event began, I simply asked if the audience felt as I did, that it would be more fair and democratic for us to ask questions directly without the card censorship process. No one “shouted their agreement” as Chesler claims. But a clear majority of the diverse audience did raise their hands in agreement, to which Ms. Gabriel expressed her contempt for what the audience thought, declared that this was her talk and that whomever didn’t like it could leave.
Gabriel then claims that “Patterson tried to calm the unruly crowd but nothing was working.” Actually, the
crowd was never unruly, and there was no talking whatsoever when Patterson started speaking, as evident in a video recording I have of the event. Further more, as Director Guenther confirmed, “from beginning to end, the event was conducted in an orderly and reasonable fashion.”
Chesler claims that at the end of the event, “the Muslim audience members swarmed onto the stage and surrounded her [Gabriel], yelling angrily at her… police officers grabbed her and hustled her out a side door.” Gabriel herself claims that Muslims swarmed her and were “intimidating” her, as police quickly “pulled” her out as “enraged Muslims started shouting.” Of course, that’s utter nonsense, as any eye-witness would confirm. As Director Guenther points out, based on the account of University representatives who were present, “after Ms. Gabriel’s presentation and the Q&A session, a number of people did approach the stage to talk with her, but they did not ‘mob’ or ‘swarm’ her in a threatening way.” He continues to say that the majority of the people who approached her were supporters who wanted to congratulate her, and that “Ms. Gabriel was not ‘hustled’ from the stage, as another account alleged, but was accompanied in a calm and orderly fashion from the auditorium..” I personally know that the last person to talk to her, as she was leaving, was a white Catholic American friend of mine whom she couldn’t have possibly mistaken for a swarm of screaming Muslims. It’s clear she was deliberately distorting what took place.
I have challenged Ms. Gabriel on the Mike Fleming show over her hypocrisy, as she simultaneously refers to Islam as a “religion of peace” and a threatening evil religion. Of course, she couldn’t give me an answer. She was supposed to be reaching out to “moderate Muslims”, but as she indicated in her article, she was intimidated by the presence of Muslims in the front row. You’d think she would be happy that Muslims were present since she was reaching out to them.
Even if one wanted to dispute Brigitte Gabriel’s bigotry, there certainly isn’t any doubt left that she’s at best deceitful, hypocritical, and utterly lacking in integrity.