Yesterday, The Tennessean newspaper ran a story by Bob Smietana that is so laced with lies, fabrications and distortions that Act for America wants to respond to it.
Item #1: Distortion
Smietana opens the story with this:
“ACT! for America sums up its mission in four words: “They must be stopped.”
“The “they” in question are Muslims…”
Smietana takes the name of Brigitte Gabriel’s best-selling book to claim that this means ACT! for America’s mission is to “stop” Muslims, bluntly implying that we believe all Muslims are engaged in a “stealthy jihad” and thus that all Muslims must be stopped.
FACT: The subtitle of Brigitte’s book states what “they” is referring to, “Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can Do It.”
FACT: ACT! for America does not believe, nor advocate, that all Muslims are engaged in stealth jihad. ACT! for America does not believe, nor advocate, that all Muslims “must be stopped.”
The truth is that ACT! for America works with and helps promote the efforts of reformist Muslims, such as Dr. Tawfik Hamid, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, and others. Dr. Hamid, a guest on the ACT! for America TV show, has praised the work of ACT! for America and provided us a quote for our website. The mission of ACT! for America is to combat the ideology of radical Islam and those who advocate it.
Item #2: Lie
Later in the piece Smietana writes:
“Critics say ACT distorts the nature of Islam and labels law-abiding Muslims as terrorists.”
There is no other way to respond to this than to call this a lie.
FACT: ACT! for America does not “label law-abiding Muslims as terrorists.” This is a classic smear technique used in yellow journalism, to refer to some unnamed “critics” who make some unsubstantiated accusations, in order to smear the organization without Smietana directly saying it himself.
Item #3: Lie
In a lengthy section about Brigitte’s personal life, Smietana writes:
“She married a co-worker named Charles Tudor, a former cameraman for Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Praise the Lord television show.”
This is a lie.
FACT: Brigitte’s husband has never worked for Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Praise the Lord television show.
Item #4: Fabrication
“Page Brooks, assistant professor of theology and Islamic studies at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, said ACT! For America confuses radical Islam with the more moderate mainstream version of the faith”
This is intended to reinforce the distortion noted in Item #1 and the lie noted in Item #2.
FACT: If what Brooks was saying was true, why would ACT! for America work with and promote the efforts of reformist Muslims and repeatedly acknowledge that many Muslims do not support jihad and the imposition of sharia law?
On several occasions over the past 18 months we have emailed articles to our national list by reformist Muslims such as Dr. Hamid and Dr. Jasser. It is clear Smietana closely follows what we do, so surely he knows this—so he would know that the statement by Brooks is a fabrication.
As egregious as these lies, fabrications and distortions are, Smietana goes further and exposes Brigitte Gabriel’s real name, names her husband, and identifies the city in which they live. In fact, he uses her actual last name no fewer than six times in the piece, instead of referring to her by her nationally known pseudonym. How was exposing Brigitte like this relevant to this story?
There is a simple reason why Brigitte uses a pseudonym: the board of ACT voted in 2003 to require her to do so in order that she would enjoy some level of protection. This is not a misplaced concern. She has received death threats. We know that al Qaeda has written about Brigitte several different times on its website. Surely Smietana must know that al Qaeda has done this. Surely Smietana must know that Theo van Gogh was killed by a jihadist in the Netherlands.
Today, al Jazeerah picked up a press release posted by CAIR which refers to the story—so now the entire Muslim world that has access to the radical al Jazeerah “media outlet” will know the details about Brigitte’s real name and city of residence.
Surely Smietana must have known something like this would happen. We are thus compelled to ask, is he so driven by an agenda other than journalism that he would expose Brigitte’s name and city deliberately to expose her to danger? Only he knows the answer to that question.
Bob Smietana has written a string of articles over the past many months that have clearly revealed his reporting is, to put it charitably, “factually challenged.” It is difficult not to conclude that Smietana sees his “reporting” on this issue, not as journalism seeking to uncover the truth and report facts, but as a mission to smear, silence and even recklessly endanger those who would dare to speak out against the threat