Dearborn–March 27–CAIR Michigan is continuing along its path of engaging the African American civil rights community in its efforts to work to reduce discrimination against Muslims. Thus the CAIR board chose as its keynote speaker the Pulitzer prize winning Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr, who has in fact used his writing to stand as a champion against many forms of bigotry in United States culture and politics.
The broadening appeal of CAIR Michigan can be seen in the wide variety of political leadership present at CAIRâ€™s most recent gala awards ceremony and fundraiser. Present were many important local, state, and federal politicians, including Rep. John Dingell (D-15-MI), Rep. Andre Carson (D-7-IN), State Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-12-MI), and many judges and local politicians, not to mention approximately 1,000 guests. Imam Johari of Darul Hijra in Northern Virginia served as fundraiser.
Executive Director Dawud Walid described CAIR-Michiganâ€™s many efforts to protect Muslim civil rights.
The theme of Mr. Pittsâ€™ argument was that no social progress happens automatically, rather it is through effort and sacrifice that social change happens–the simple fact of its being the 21st century does not make our culture more developed than what we were in the past. He focused on the deep problems in this country of racial injustice, past and present, and bringing into this context the current deep and widespread American prejudice against Muslims. He focused on an important point, the prejudices that are so deeply ingrained as to have sunk to the subconscious level of assumption–Pitts focused on several examples of prominent people making arguments based on assumptions that are intrinsically biased–this reflected Pittsâ€™ deep belief that â€œthis is not a Muslim problem, but an American problem, a paranoid, xenophobic,â€ panicked response to outsiders. The ultimate focus of Pittsâ€™ speech was that America has never been the land it has held itself out to be from the time of its founding, due to the discrimination that preexisted and that continued after the independence of this nation, in the form of racial discrimination against many different ethnic groups but particularly African Americans.
Rep. Andre Carson also spoke to those gathered. He emphasized that CAIR was a necessary component of the Muslim community–because it stands up and fights for the Muslim community in a vocal way. Carson emphasized that it is not necessary for every doctor or engineer to be as vocal as CAIR, but it is necessary to reach out and support (with money) those willing to be â€œbold,â€ and argue for Muslim rights. On the other hand, he said, if the people are radicalized, CAIR must speak out as well against radicalization.
CAIR Michiganâ€™s attorney Lena Masri also spoke on several legal initiatives by CAIR–this legal function has become an essential component of CAIRâ€™s work, although the legal branch of CAIR is only a couple of years old.
This yearâ€™s gala fundraiser marked a new high for CAIR Michigan in the form of its friendships at all levels of politics, and marked a continuation of its strategy of reaching out to the African American civil rights community by choosing a prominent African American writer, vocal on civil rights issues, as its keynote speaker. After this yearâ€™s event the question is how much progress CAIR will continue to make and what strategies and tactics they will use going forward.