Debunking Forwards: Direct Access Stimulus Grants To Muslims

There seems to be an email making the rounds that offers a link to an article on titled, “Coming August 31: ‘Direct Access’ Stimulus Grants for the Muslim Brotherhood and the writer, Christine Brim, makes her case purely from a misrepresentation of an email announcement (sent by the ISNA) about an upcoming workshop for other Muslim community groups to attend, hosted by the CCMO (Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations).

The biggest problem with her case is that she leads off with the erroneous introduction suggesting the Federal government is offering “direct access” to Federal funds and defends her case with interpretations that are further ambiguous at best.

The announcement itself (found it its entirety at the bottom of the “Coming…” article) contains language that indicates the workshop will be informational about opportunities and techniques to apply for funding — but nothing about how to actually get it. It’s pretty much the same ploy used by the old infomercial Matthew Lesko advertising his book about government grants, with big question marks all over his sport coat. The workshop is essentially information about government grants to apply for, that might not be otherwise known about.

Her claims that Muslim groups are getting “direct access” to Federal funding comes from the following paragraph in the email announcement —

According to a representative of CCMO, this workshop is designed to clarify how Muslim nonprofits, mosques, Islamic centers, and social service organizations can strengthen their communities through more direct access to opportunities provided to social service agencies at the Federal level. “It will hopefully help cut through some of the red tape and shine light on the many opportunities for funding, government assistance, and resources that we just don’t know about at the local level,” said Elsanousi.

(Mohamed Elsanousi is the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)’s Director of Community Outreach, stated earlier in the announcement. The passage is partially bolded by me, for emphasis)

In the sentence that contains “direct access” the word direct modifies couples with more instead of access. The sentence therefore (perhaps ambiguously) reads [“more direct” access] rather than [more “direct access”].

If access is “more direct” it could simply mean that there is one less application process to be made before a grant is signed — but in no way suggests that grants will be signed.

Secondly, the phrase about funding is worded, “…to opportunities provided to social service agencies at the Federal level.”

Opportunities doesn’t necessarily mean “we will grant you money if you apply for it.” A job opening in the paper is an opportunity, but applying for it doesn’t mean you’ll get it.

Also, “social service agencies” could be agencies that have received a Federal grant, through which the Muslim community groups submit their applications. To automatically believe that Federal money will be distributed directly to Muslim community groups that ask for it is outright absurdity and alarmist nonsense.

Thirdly, and perhaps more subtly, the workshop is hosted by an Islamic organizing party (the Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations, which is having guest speakers from government agencies come to talk at the event. It’s not said whether those guest speakers will be paid by the CCMO or by their own respective government entities, if even at all.

Fourthly, the allegation is made that the funds would be distributed to the “Muslim Brotherhood” (hence, MB, which is the largest political group in Arab states, and formally opposes violent means to achieve goals since its inception in 1928 but is banned in Egypt for supposedly defying that position) and tries to make the case for each organization that’s invited, to have ties with MB somehow. Brim also claims that the MB is an “unindicted co-conspirator” of the Holy Land Foundation, believed by the Federal government to raise funds for Hamas. However, “unindicted co-conspirator” has to be the lamest phrase I’ve ever heard used to assign blame to anything.

If you’re unindicted, it means that you have not been formally charged with a crime. A suspect who has convincing evidence against him to be charged with murder is “indicted” with murder when the crimes are formally charged against him — but it doesn’t suggest that the trial has even occurred yet so he’s still technically innocent. If you don’t have any evidence against you that could bring a trial against you, you’re unindicted. Little Susie and Billy from next door are unindicted on murder charges from the 9/11 attacks.

“Co-consipirator” for that matter is rather redundant. If you conspire to commit a crime (in a conspiracy) then you’ve agreed to carry out an illegal deed. Everyone who conspired would simply be conspirators. A co-conspirator would make you someone who conspired with conspirators, although perhaps not necessarily on the same crime that other conspirators did for which those other conspirators are accused. If you conspired to not-stop at a stop sign, with conspirators in another state who conspired to call 911 and ask about the weather, then you could then be called a co-conspirator I guess.

Brim uses “unindicted co-conspirators” in a blame-assignment technique (which is not even advised for use by the United States Attorney’s Manual) to vaguely link the ISNA to MB. ISNA (which has its share of controversy) is not even the one sponsoring the workshop and is merely quoted in the announcement.

So, (a) the government isn’t announcing the event, (b) the government isn’t hosting the event, (c) the government isn’t giving out funds, per se, and the (d) government also isn’t giving access to funds directly. Speakers who are from the government, however, are attending a workshop for how community leaders (who at this event happen to be Muslim) can apply for grants.

That’s all it looks like, to me.

Sept 19, 2010 Note I just struck out the word “modifies” and replaced it with “couples with” in the paragraph above about direct access to clear up a little confusion.

One thought on “Debunking Forwards: Direct Access Stimulus Grants To Muslims

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