May 12, 2007
Cleary University continues to play lip service to the stated mission of its Economic Club Speakers Luncheon Series to “enrich the community by hosting speakers who can share a broad spectrum of business, social, political, intellectual, and cultural experiences."
In the four years of the series every speaker has had a conservative bent, other than the Mayor of the biggest city in our state, and the college and their spokesperson continue to use the appearance of one non-conservative as a shield as they continue to book more and more extreme rightwing speakers. The latest is Steve Emerson, a self-described terrorism and national security expert and journalist, set to speak Monday. However, none of those occupations fit him, and many see him as an anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigot who supports racial profiling. He’s to the left of Cleary’s booked speaker in October, hatemonger Ann Coulter, but these two are just two more examples of the extremist speakers Cleary is foisting on the community.
Emerson’s bio and book claims he warned that an attack by Islamic terrorists like that of 9/11 was coming, but that’s like the weatherman predicting it will rain in Seattle. Every plot, terrorist attack or conspiracy is an Islamic terrorist plot to Emerson. For an example, Emerson also told us the Oklahoma City bombing was a Muslim terrorist attack
A day after the Oklahoma City federal building was bombed in 1995, he went on television theorizing -- wrongly -- that the culprits were Arab. Attempting "to inflict as many casualties as possible -- that is a Middle Eastern trait," he said in one interview, one of many statements his enemies call reckless and biased, according to an article in the magazine published by the nonpartisan media watchdog group, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)
Here are some quotes from other people and groups on Emerson:
"He's made his life's work discrediting Arab American and Muslim groups, and his obsession makes me uncomfortable," said James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute.
Moreover, since the end of the cold war, Islam is increasingly described by a coterie of writers and policymakers as a new seedbed for anti-Western aggression, replacing communism. Some journalists have made a virtual industry out of this view. The most prolific is Steven Emerson, whose film 'Jihad in America,' shown recently on PBS, describes America as a training ground for Islamic terrorism. Muslims almost universally know and loathe Mr. Emerson's work, calling it biased and distorted. " The Christian Science Monitor (1/22/96)
"There's more than a little bigotry in Emerson's obsession with Muslim terrorists." (EXTRA!, July/August 1995)
The New York Times Book review said Emerson's 1991 book Terrorist was "marred by factual errors...that betray an unfamiliarity with the Middle East and a pervasive anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian bias." (5/19/91)
The Livingston County Daily Press and Argus, a sponsor of the LEC, and the college are using the alleged plot by foreign-born Muslims to allegedly attack Fort Dix as a crutch to promote Emerson’s appearance and sell more tickets.
Emerson said, “Part of the problem with the Fort Dix incident, Emerson said, was that the FBI had to rely on a tip to jump on the case.” In other words, any and all Muslims and men of Middle Eastern descent are guilty until proven innocent, and they should be profiled. That is, of course, ignoring the fact that the number of terrorist attacks and real pots in the U.S. by “Islamic terrorists” can be counted on one hand.
Janet Filip, Cleary's director of development and alumni relations, said more tickets have already been sold for Emerson's appearance than for financial analyst Mike Jensen, who spoke as part of the series in February.
As for Emerson's appearance, Filip said, "That's timely with what just happened (Monday) with the FBI busting up the terror ring in New Jersey. It's a real topic that we should be talking about. To get his thoughts on the subject would be very important."
Filip, the wife of the chair of the Livingston County Republican Party, is responsible for booking the conservative speakers who dominate the series. Is anyone really surprised that more tickets have been sold for Emerson's appearance than for a financial analyst at a university that bills itself as a business school? Is anyone surprised that Livingston County is viewed as a racist community?
We don’t need to get Emerson’s “thoughts on the subject.” We already know that they are.