Aaron Klein's latest shoddy guilt-by-association smear

Guilt by association is the stock-in-trade of WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein, as Media Matters has ably documented. Since that's what WorldNetDaily is paying him to do despite his shoddy reporting methods being repeatedly exposed, it's no surprise that he goes back to that smear well.

This time, Klein's target is Vartan Gregorian, the head of the Carnegie Corporation whom President Obama appointed in 2009 to the board of the President's Commission on White House Fellowships (he is not a White House Fellow himself, as Klein sloppily suggests).

So where does the smear come in? According to Klein, Gregorian is “closely tied to the Muslim leaders behind a proposed controversial Islamic cultural center to be built near the site of the 9/11 attacks.” How so? Klein's primary piece of evidence is that Gregorian is on the board of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, which, according to Klein, is “reportedly working” with the American Society for Muslim Advancement, “whose leaders are behind the mosque, to ensure the future museum will represent the voices of American Muslims.”

That's “closely tied”? Really?

Here's a list of some of the other people Klein apparently believes are “closely tied” to the " 'Ground Zero' imam" through their similar involvement with the 9/11 Memorial and Museum:

  • Michael Bloomberg
  • George Pataki
  • Rudy Giuliani
  • All four living former presidents
  • 9/11 widow Debra Burlingame
  • Billy Crystal
  • Robert De Niro

Does Klein really believe that Republican politicians, actors, former presidents, and a 9/11 widow who works with Liz Cheney are part of some hugely vast Muslim-promoting conspiracy? It would appear so.

But Klein isn't done. He goes on to suggest that Gregorian is some sort of Islamic extremist by highlighting an attack on his 2003 book, Islam: A Mosaic, Not A Monolith:

According to a book review by the Middle East Forum, Gregorian's book “establishes the Islamist goal of world domination.”

A chapter of the book, “Islamism: Liberation Politics,” quotes Ayatollah Khomenei: “Islam does not conquer. Islam wants all countries to become Muslim, of themselves.” Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, is quoting stating it “is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its laws on all nations and to extend its power to the entire planet.”

Gregorian himself recommends for Muslims a system he calls “theo-democracy,” which he defines as “a divine democratic government” that, according to the book review, “would have a limited popular sovereignty under the suzerainty of Allah.”

First, the Middle East Forum is a right-wing group headed by activist Daniel Pipes -- who has tried to spread the falsehood that Obama is a Muslim and seems to like the idea of interning ethnic groups for their alleged danger to national security -- so the review of Gregorian's book is hardly objective. Klein and the review baselessly portray Gregorian's quoting of Khomenei and al-Banna as an endorsement of what they said; in fact, Gregorian is merely recounting the history of the Islamic revolution in Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, respectively -- indeed, Gregorian goes on to note that despite the Muslim Brotherhood's denial of involvement with terrorism and subversion, it has been repeatedly linked to terrorist acts. Also, the term “theo-democracy” is not Gregorian's word, as Klein and the review suggest; he is quoting what one Muslim “traditional political theorist” advocated.

The Middle East Forum's negative attack on Gregorian's book appears to be an anomaly. No less than former Wall Street Journal publisher Karen Elliott House -- who won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on the Middle East -- placed it at the top of its list of books that are “essential to understanding Islam,” calling it “the perfect primer” on the subject.

Finally, the entire idea that Gregorian is some sort of Islamist extremist, as Klein suggests, is utterly ludicrous. Before heading the Carnegie Corporation, Gregorian was president of Brown University and president of the New York Public Library -- not exactly extremist organizations (except perhaps to people like Klein). And in 2004, President Bush awarded Gregorian the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Here's what Bush said about him:

The life of Dr. Vartan Gregorian began in Iran, in a town called Tabriz. As a boy, he loved books, and was blessed with a wonderful grandmother who encouraged him and inspires him still. His great gift has been to share his love of learning with others, as President of Brown University, President of the New York Public Library, and now as President of the Carnegie Corporation. Along the way, Dr. Gregorian has won the loyal friendship of many students and colleagues, and he has received more than 50 honorary degrees. And today the nation honors one of our most respected academic leaders.

The fact that Klein would try to denigrate such a universally respected scholar as an extremist shows just how desperate and hate-driven he is to attack anyone even remotely connected to Obama. The transparent guilt-by-association smear failed in Klein's anti-Obama attack book (in which he laughably claimed he did not believe in guilt by association), and it fails spectacularly here.