What We Talk About When We Talk About Huma Abedin

The Washington Post's "Fact-Check" column defending Huma flunks Journalism 101.

By John Zmirak Published on November 4, 2016

The following exchange, or something very like it, is taking place all across the country via email, social media, or cryptic series of texted memes, between patriotic citizens who are scared pantless by the prospect of Hillary Clinton and her team taking absolute executive power come January — and their friends or family members who simply can’t or won’t see what they’re so worried about. Initially, I thought of presenting it entirely in Tweets using social media jargon, but why punish the reader?

CASSANDRA: Did you see that Stream article I sent you on the lifelong ties Hillary’s closest aide, Huma Abedin, has to radical Islamist movements and governments — and their links to terrorist groups that have attacked America?

POLLYANNA: Yeah, I’m really sick of all this racist Muslim-bashing, you know.

CASSANDRA: You know Islam isn’t a race, right? Some of the worst Islamists are blond-haired, blue-eyed losers from the U.S. and Britain who convert to radical Islam as a means of raising their low testosterone count or finding a man who will marry them despite all those extra “fish-and-chips pounds.”

And the majority of Arabs in the U.S. are Christians, who fled the godforsaken hellholes that intolerant Islam made of once-prosperous countries. Of course, the Democrats’ immigration policies are trying to change that, spending millions to fly Muslims from safe camps in Turkey to dump them in Minnesota and Maine, where they can cash nice checks from the U.S. taxpayers — while real refugees (Christians, Yezidis) get beaten at the gates of U.N. camps by highly organized Sunni Muslim bigots.

POLLYANNA: You say that you object to radical Islam. Fine, I can see problems with that, just as I have problems with radical Christianity. You’ve heard of the Westboro Baptist Church, right?

CASSANDRA: Which has maybe 50 members. Remind me, which presidential candidate has an advisor that belongs to Westboro? Is there some oil-rich country pouring millions of dollars each year into turning all Christians into Westboro-style bigots? Building churches and staffing them with Westboro preachers, running journals that explain how to spread Westboro’s ideas to mainstream, peaceful Christians? Because that’s what Saudi Arabia does, and Huma Abedin joined her entire family’s effort to help them, with Saudi money, from people whose other donations went to al Qaeda.

POLLYANNA: The problem with you conservatives is that you read some wild conspiracy theory on the Internet, you don’t bother to fact check it, but if it supports your prejudice you just start forwarding it around. Have you ever heard of Snopes.com?

CASSANDRA: Yes. It’s two pasty-faced Democrats sitting on their couch with a laptop and Doritos. Why should I trust them any more than you should trust Alex Jones?

POLLYANNA: Well you don’t have to. Real publications with real journalists have looked into the wild allegations you people are throwing to try to smear Huma Abedin.

CASSANDRA: You mean like Vanity Fair, which is the source of most of the facts tying Abedin to radical Islamist propaganda organizations that support terrorism, jihad, and sharia?

POLLYANNA: How about Glenn Kessler’s Washington Post “Fact-Checker” column? It completely devastates stories like the one you sent me.

CASSANDRA: Does it now? Are you willing to go through with me, fact by fact, the claims that the WaPo piece challenges, and what it offers in evidence against those claims? Or do you just want to wave it off, and pretend that the matter is settled because a left-leaning newspaper exuded some spin that helps you feel better about voting for Clinton? Let me know now — my time is precious. Those episodes of Dr. Who on Amazon Prime aren’t going to watch themselves.

POLLYANNA: Sure. Go ahead.

CASSANDRA: Great. Keep in mind that many of the claims put forward by Paul Sperry in the New York Post and in that Stream article I sent you aren’t even addressed here.

Was Huma Abedin an editor at a sharia newspaper, as Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) told CNN?

Kessler points out triumphantly that, contrary to the charge of Rep. Duffy, the Journal of Minority Muslim Affairs is not a newspaper — but a “journal.” He asserts that it is “staid,” and “peer-reviewed,” nice reassuring words for Washington Post readers, but irrelevant to its contents. There’s a Holocaust-denial journal out there that claims to be peer-reviewed too. You just pick the right set of “peers.” Kessler doesn’t dispute the fact that the journal itself openly supports sharia (the core of Duffy’s claim). But Kessler asserts that calling the journal “radical” is “ridiculous, according to experts on Islam and members of the advisory board.”

He does not address the misogynist and anti-American positions taken by Abedin’s mother in the journal, except to call them “cherry-picked” and “mischaracterized,” based on his own review. Kessler makes no argument to defend these claims, but expects us to trust him — and the opinion of one scholar of Israel, and several people who serve on the magazine’s board (hence, interested parties). So is Kessler saying that it isn’t “radical” by contemporary Muslim standards to blame domestic violence on women, claim that sharia law is more empowering for women than legal equality, and blame the 9/11 attacks on U.S. foreign policy? Kessler might be right about that, tragically.

Did Huma Abedin work at this sharia-advocacy journal?

Kessler waves off the indisputable fact that her name was on the masthead for 12 long years, even as she worked for the Clinton White House and Clinton’s Senate campaign. That’s old news, he suggests, so it doesn’t matter. Did she approve of and agree with the misogynist, theocratic, and anti-American articles that appeared with her name on the masthead? Here Kessler is satisfied with an answer from … the Clinton campaign itself: “The Clinton campaign says Abedin played no role in editing articles.” Well, that settles things, doesn’t it? What journalist would ever question a claim from a political campaign just before a presidential election? Not Kessler.

Here’s a question Kessler didn’t bestir himself to ask: Assuming the (completely unproven) claim that Abedin played no role whatsoever in the journal (and so she was essentially committing career fraud): Was she aware of the journal’s contents? If she disagreed with the views expressed there (something she has never publicly said), why didn’t she resign? It helped to sink Ron Paul’s 2008 run when it came out that bigoted newsletters were put out under his name, though he claimed he’d never seen them. You’d think a political reporter like Kessler could remember a major story like that from just eight years ago.

Was the founder of the journal, Huma’s father, Syed Abedin, a supporter of Saudi Wahabi Islam?

Wahhabism is one of the most puritanical religions in the world. It forbids women to drive cars, flogs and executes adulterers, and demands the death penalty for Muslims who join other faiths. Kessler doesn’t address Abedin’s actual views or statements, but relies on the word of Harvard professor Ali Asani, who vouches that Abedin was a model of a “moderate Muslim.” Had Kessler troubled to look into Syed Abedin’s stated positions, he might have found an interview such as this one, where Abedin endorses Saudi-style theocratic control over the lives of citizens:

The state has to take over. The state is stepping in in many countries … where the state is now overseeing that human relationships are carried on on the basis of Islam. The state also under Islam has a right to interfere in some of these rights given to the individual by the Sharia.

Is the Abedin family tied to the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorist financiers?

Kessler ignores Abedin’s service for three years (while she was in college) on the board of the George Washington University branch of the Muslim Students Association — a group which the Muslim Brotherhood itself named in 1991 as a like-minded allied organization.

Kessler goes deep into the weeds here, counting on readers’ confusion and weariness with foreign names. Essentially, he argues that all the connections between the people who funded the Abedins’ sharia journal and also funded organizations that engaged in terrorism pre-date those groups’ proven involvement in terrorism. Essentially, these organizations seemed entirely innocent when the Abedins worked with them, and only later emerged as radical Islamist groups willing to train, equip, and dispatch terrorist attacks against the West.

Kessler ignores the most significant Muslim Brotherhood link of all, Abedin’s service for three years (while she was in college) on the board of the George Washington University branch of the Muslim Students Association — a group which the Muslim Brotherhood itself named in 1991 as a like-minded allied organization. Remember, as the original Stream piece pointed out, that it was Abedin’s own local branch of the MSA that (just two years after she graduated) hired as its chaplain the al Qaeda operative Anwar al Awlaki, later killed by a U.S. drone strike.pape

POLLYANNA: This is boring. What’s your point?

CASSANDRA: That the same woman with all these shadowy ties to terrorist financiers and radical organizations, who was raised a puritanical Muslim in a country where women live  as serfs, who has never condemned the views she once helped propagate, helped Hillary Clinton create a secret private server where she could hide how the $30 million dollar payoffs the Clinton Foundation was taking from the Saudi government had influenced U.S. policy via the State Department. But probably now you want to talk about how some Alt-Right online trolls are using Pepe the Frog to Tweet about Donald Trump.

John Zmirak is author, most recently, of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism.

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