In a statement to the Exponent, Joe Sestak said of his speech to CAIR in 2007:

“I don’t just speak to groups that I support, I speak to groups that I don’t support and I think that is the job of a congressman in order to have a dialogue,” he said. “And I went to CAIR and I criticized their failure to condemn terrorists by name, Hezbollah and Hamas, and the fact that they had not dissociated themselves” from them.

Well, let’s take a look at the speech. It’s roughly five pages long and over 2,500 words, filled with glowing tributes to Muslims. It’s like Obama’s Cairo speech and his Iran video, and then some. The speech is full of this sort of thing:

Prominently recognized in the U.S. Supreme Court are 18 great lawgivers of history, including the Prophet Muhammad with Moses, Solomon and Confucius. The beauty of Baroque music comes from Islamic influence; as did the ‘Moorish’ style of some of New York’s nineteenth-century synagogues.

Around page three, however, Sestak takes an odd turn:

I was stationed at the Pentagon that fateful day six and a half years ago. In its confliction after “911”, an America with a negative perception of Islam – and by implication, of Muslims – is rightly threatening to many – including me – in wrongly reflecting who we are. We need to claim our values, not betray them, by ensuring there is not a psychology that “pulls out” of the rich fabric of our American community those who look like “one of them”? We are better than that. CAIR does such important and necessary work in a difficult environment to change such perceptions and wrongs – from racial profiling and civil rights to promoting justice and mutual understanding – at a time when it is challenging to be an American-Muslim and pass, for example, through an airport checkpoint. The Jewish people have passed through – and still confront – many of the same challenges, some so horrific that one gentle man was moved to write after visiting the horror of Auschwitz: “Forgive them not Father, for they knew what they did.”

Is he buying into the CAIR line that Americans turned anti-Muslim after 9/11? He seems to be implying — though the sentence is a bit hard to follow — that Americans took out their anguish over the slaughter of their fellow citizens by reacting negatively to all Muslims. That’s quite a slur, if that’s what he meant.

But the doozy in there is the praise for CAIR’s “important and necessary work” in racial profiling and “civil rights.” CAIR’s work in this regard is amply documented here. “When it comes to domestic investigations CAIR casts virtually any law enforcement action as an assault on all American Muslims. Missing is any possibility that a radical element, unwelcome in its midst, has been exposed.” Is this what Sestak finds praiseworthy?

And, finally, other than to analogize the “challenge” of passing through an airport-security gate (don’t we all?) with the Holocaust, I see no reason for the Auschwitz reference. It is, in a word, disgusting.

Back to the speech. We return to paragraph after paragraph of praise for “the richness of many Islamic nations and their faithful people, including the Palestinians.” He makes a nice ode to peace:

War and the use of terror are not beautiful, but rather, says the Qur’an, they are a corruption of God’s creation, the earth. The act of corrupting the earth consists of the destruction of life, including by the prevention of peaceful coexistence: “Whoever unjustly kills a person and (in so doing so) spreads corruption on earth, it is (in the eyes of God) as if he killed all of humanity. And, anyone who saves a life, it is as if he has saved all of humanity.'”

So where’s the criticism of CAIR for “failure to condemn terrorists by name, Hezbollah and Hamas, and the fact that they had not dissociated themselves” from them? Well, it is so mild that you — and certainly those in attendance at the event — might not see it as a rebuke at all:

This is why it is my, and your, just duty to condemn not just terrorism – as you have done – but also condemn the specific acts, and specific individuals and groups by name, associated with those acts, such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

That’s it. It’s a polite request, not a criticism. And if CAIR hasn’t condemned Hamas and Hezbollah, what is Sestak doing giving a keynote for the group?

He wraps up with more frothy praise and throws a bouquet to the group: “I know, and appreciate, all you do as an advocate for justice and mutual understanding.” That is straight out of the CAIR playbook, an absolute misrepresentation of what CAIR says and how it behaves. A helpful explanation of exactly what CAIR is all about comes from Mark Steyn, who recites some of the CAIR rhetoric  –“down with the Jews, descendants of the apes” — and explains CAIR’s terrorist connections, which “assist in the mainstreaming of jihad in America.” For those not familar with CAIR’s rhetoric, a compendium of CAIR’s comments relating to terrorism, Hamas, and denying the legitimacy of Israel can be found here. Sestak isn’t bothered by all that?

So Sestak didn’t go to CAIR to criticize the group at all. If he had intended to do that, he would have called it out for its anti-Israel rhetoric and its efforts to impede legitimate anti-terror measures. Instead, he went to flatter the group and to echo its own propaganda. Once again, Sestak’s characterization of his own record is different than his actual record and his own words. Pennsylvania voters should remain alert.

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