My Weekend in the Belly of the Beast
As a Regional Coordinator for The United West, I was asked to spend the past weekend (June 17th-19th) with two of my colleagues monitoring the 2011 International Arab Festival in Dearborn, Michigan. The purpose of this article is to give my impressions of that event.
This year's was the sixteenth annual staging of the event, which is sponsored by the American Arab Chamber of Commerce. At last year's festival, the Dearborn police arrested several Christian evangelists for the crime of distributing literature encouraging Muslims to convert. The result of that effort by the police to cater to the tender sensibilities of the Muslim population that didn't want to be exposed to disreputable Christian doctrine was that the Dearborn police were slapped down by the courts, who found that the Constitution and the First Amendment still trump Muslim exclusivity, even in Dearbornistan. The Dearborn police were so smacked down that this year they subcontracted out their law enforcement responsibilities at the festival to the Wayne County Sheriff's office.
On Friday evening, we strolled through the crowds of attendees, consisting primarily of families meandering through the various booths and attractions of the fair (having never been in Dearborn, I was gobsmacked to see how many niqābs -- cloths used to completely cover the face of Muslim women -- were in evidence; I have not seen as many women in East Jerusalem with their faces covered as I saw in Dearborn). In addition to the families that were out enjoying the evening, there were groups of young boys, around ages 10-14, who were roving through the crowds, doing what 10- to 14-year-old boys do (desperately trying to look very cool in front of the roving 10- to 14-year-old girls). There were also groups of older boys, about15-18, who were roving around the grounds. I noted that these older groups of boys were, in many cases, rather aggressive when it came to interacting with those whom they perceived to be non-Muslims. I am well aware that teenage boys are full of testosterone and aggressive by nature, but I had an uneasy (if inchoate) feeling about these groups. Their modus operandi was to swarm like bees around their Christian targets, shout epithets, throw things, and then disappear en masse.
Shortly after the opening of the fair, a group of self-proclaimed Christians marched loudly to the center of the fair venue, and set themselves up on a corner, where they started chanting pro-Christian slogans and anti-Muslim epithets. A crowd quickly gathered, and began taunting them. The crowd consisted primarily of the groups of younger and older teenagers. But I soon noticed that circulating among them were two or three individuals in their 20's, who appeared to be directing the actions of the younger boys. These individuals were absolutely not trying to disperse the crowd, nor were they trying to calm things down. My impression was that they were, instead, trying to keep the crowd stoked -- but at a low boil.
My colleague, Alan Kornman, and I were both shooting videos of this simmering situation when he was surrounded by a group of cursing young men. They started screaming at Alan that he should stop filming them. Alan responded (correctly) that they had no right or expectation of privacy in a public place. One of this group, a truly ugly, sloppy fat guy, was getting agitated. I have video of this brave young worthy sliding behind his friend before he lets loose with a volume of spit aimed at Alan, and then slithering away immediately thereafter. Another brave young Muslim then hit Alan, and immediately disappeared.
On Saturday, Alan conducted an interview that lasted almost 30 minutes with a young woman who was behind a booth selling "Palestinian" doodads (shawls, olive wood candlesticks, etc.), and peddling "Palestinian" propaganda. Among other interesting things, Alan got her to say, twice, that she herself would have killed Anwar Sadat. Watch www.theunitedwest.org for video of that interview, which will be online soon.
On Saturday evening we came across a man who was quietly standing on a corner holding a sign proclaiming Jesus as Messiah. He was not taunting anyone. Instead, he was available to speak to anyone who chose to speak to him. Not long before we met him, he had been attacked by a group of boys, who threw a variety of things at him, and shouted vile epithets at him. We started to interview him when, suddenly, a swarm of boys started buzzing around again, with an older boy obviously directing their activities. A crowd of about 50 gathered, and I went looking for a cop, whom I found about twelve paces in the rear, with his attention elsewhere. I told him that he needed to come over because the crowd was getting nasty. He said that he had no electronic communications but that he would get help (it should be noted that the Sheriff's command post was directly across from the swarming crowd, but the myriad deputies who were there seemed to be concentrating everywhere but where the trouble was brewing). He then sauntered across the street, and about two or three more minutes elapsed before they reached the crowd and defused the situation.
One other group that was in evidence at the festival is worth mentioning. These were the yellow-vested "Michigan Peace Team." We interviewed some of these folks (before they decided that they wouldn't speak to us because we were "bad guys"). We asked them who they are and for what do they stand. They gave us a lot of talk about "peace" and "love" and "brotherhood" and "getting along together." They said that they had been invited by the festival organizers to help "keep peace." My impression, that first time we spoke with them, was that they were a bunch of well-meaning silly people who were harmless wearers of Birkenstock sandals and singers of "Kumbaya." However, I did some research later, and found that my impression was mistaken. These were the Rachel Corrie, International Solidarity types whose primary purpose is to isolate Israel as an apartheid state.
On Sunday morning, I received a tip alerting us to a situation that had recently arisen in Farmington Hills, an upper-middle-class suburb of Detroit. What is happening there should serve as a stark warning of how the Islamists are penetrating and populating non-Muslim communities.
The Farmington Public Schools had voted unanimously (literally under cover of darkness and in the middle of the night) to accept a no-bid contract to sell a surplus school property to a group of Muslims for the establishment of an Islamic center (whether it would be for a school, a cultural center, or mosque was unclear) on a major commercial corner -- in a predominately Jewish neighborhood. They never listed the property for sale nor disclosed to the community that the district had been negotiating for months to finalize the sale based on what the district claimed was an unsolicited offer from the Islamic group. When a group of residents learned of this stealthy action in a newspaper article, they raised a howl, drawing a record crowd of over 200 to the school board meeting. The school board shrewdly barred public comment on the issue until close to 11 PM (after the news crews left in order to meet their deadlines). Despite a long parade of residents who articulated their concerns that the school board had kept secret their plans to sell, failed to put the property on the market to net top dollar, and violated due process in rushing through this backroom deal, the local CAIR spokesman predictably labeled them bigots -- and the local president of the Jewish Community Relations Council and the local director of the ADL (the former president of which is the current school board president) predictably took the side of the Muslims!
Residents of the neighborhoods ringing the school are up in arms that the school district, brazenly flouting all pretense of transparency, would sell them out in a stealth deal with the Islamic Center. A planning commission in the town next-door will next consider the deal.
So, my reflections upon having returned to New York from Dearborn after this eventful weekend: during the entire time I spent at the Arab International Festival, my overall sense was one of unease because of a palpable feeling that bad things were happening all around me. I came to the conclusion that Dearborn is a very, very bad place. It is lost. It is no longer part of America. It is a primary source of a virus that is spreading throughout this country -- of which the school situation in Farmington Hills is a perfect example.
It is very easy to be discouraged. The Islamists are totally relentless; if we beat them in one place, they ooze out somewhere else. Furthermore, their greatest allies are Jews and other leftists who mistakenly think that they will escape the fire if only they show the Islamists that they "love" them. The words "fairness" and "multi-culturalism" have been twisted into potent weapons against western culture and civilization with the aid of useful idiots who enable the Islamists to hide their true nature.
There is an all-important lesson from this weekend for all who care about preserving American culture: wake up! If you were to travel to Dearborn, the "belly of the beast," you would no longer have doubts concerning the danger that we face.
Stuart Kaufman is a retired lawyer, investment banker and businessman. He is currently New York Regional Coordinator for The United West.