Guilt by association for US Muslims

Hussein Ibish examines the resignation of Mazen Asbahi, Muslim-outreach coordinator for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign:

“Asbahi resigned on Monday, after just 10 days on the job, because in 2000 he served for a few weeks on the board of an Islamic investment fund with Jamal Said. Said has been allegedly linked to accused fundraisers for Hamas whose recent trial did not result in any convictions, but who remain under a cloud of suspicion.

“This reflects an unreasonable and unfair climate of guilt by association. It is part of a familiar pattern that is one of the main forces hindering the political integration of these communities into American civic life. Asbahi himself is not accused of any misconduct. Rather the issue is his fairly distant association with Said, who himself is disparaged because of the alleged activities of his own associates.

“The problem is that almost anyone who has been engaged in Arab or Muslim political affairs can probably be somehow connected in some manner to someone else somewhere whose views, activities or associations can be called into question in the post-9/11 environment.

“Call it two or three degrees of separation. These distant, usually third-party connections are then magnified out of all proportion and used to unfairly impugn or misrepresent the views and character of the person under attack.”

Comment is Free, 8 August 2008

See also James Zogby at the Huffington Post, 8 August 2008

Update:  And Ahmed Rehab in the Chicago Tribune, 10 August 2008