Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Simon Harak, “Peace” Center Target of Harassment Campaign, Journalistic Bias?

Inflammatory leftist Father Simon Harak, who recently came to Marquette to head a “Center for Peacemaking” has taken his lumps in the Marquette conservative blogosphere.

We reported on his extreme statements. And GOP3 has also chronicled his antics and positions.

But Harak and his supporters have largely ignored the blogosphere.

Not so when Milwaukee Magazine decided to report on the controversy surrounding Harak and the Center for Peacemaking. Harak’s fellow leftists in the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice went ballistic. An entry on their web page informed readers:
The Marquette Center for Peacemaking and its director, Father Simon Harak, are the targets of a harrassment [sic] campaign by two Marquette students who oppose the Center’s peacemaking mission. The students have leafletted [sic] Father Harak’s classes with flyers calling Father Harak “deranged” and urging students to “Drop this class!”
Of course, this “harrassment” [sic] campaign actually amounted to only one student (Brian Collar) exercising his free speech rights.

The web page complained that the article:
. . . did not quote any Marquette students who were not critical of Father Harak. . . . Father Harak provided us with these responses, from attendees at various Center events.
In reality, the “responses” are mostly not from students but from community members, and are not about Harak’s classes but rather about a workshop he conducted. Attendees at such workshops are a highly self-selected bunch who agree with the organizer’s viewpoint.

Their special ire was directed at a graphic that accompanied the story. It was an image of Harak with the crosshairs of a telescopic sight centered on his forehead. How did Harak respond?
In response to the photo, Father Harak says, “I’ve tried, but I just can’t take it lightly, because violence is not academic or symbolic to me (or ‘clever’ as I believe they were trying to be here). Even if I were to just think about Milwaukee, the problem of violence (and gun violence) here is serious enough not to be made light of like this. If I look at where they put the bullseye’ of this target, and if I were to imagine someone holding a gun, what would this image ‘invite?’” Father Harak’s concern is motivated by the fact that, since 9/11, Arab-Americans like Father Harak have been the targets of racially-motivated violence.
In reality, the photo seemed to show a pro-Harak bias, implying that those of us who have been critical of the leftist cleric want to assassinate him or something.

In reality, all we have done is criticize him.

But Harak can’t seem to resist playing the victim card and invoking violence against Arab-Americans. In fact, such violence has been extremely rare, and nobody who wrote about Harak (and this includes both Marquette bloggers and Milwaukee Magazine) knew he was Arab-American.

What was in the Milwaukee Magazine article that the Wisconsin Network did not report? The fact that blogger Daniel Suhr discovered that the foundation that funded the Center for Peacemaking has a portfolio laced with stocks of defense contractors -- the people Harak calls the “Merchants of Death.”

When we asked for a response from Harak sponsor and cohort Michael Duffy (who is also associated with the Center), Duffy appeared to be grateful for the information and promised to look into the issue.

The Wisconsin Network web page urged readers to bombard Milwaukee Magazine with e-mails complaining about the article. Apparently they did so, since a more recent posting says that “Many of you have responded to the Milwaukee Magazine article and photo of Father Simon Harak, director of Marquette University’s Center for Peacemaking Studies, and to our report on the controversy . . . .”

Of course, the local “peace” movement has a right to bombard Milwaukee Magazine with e-mails if they want to. But some responses are simply lame. The graphic they objected to was a bit “edgy” but in no way advocated or encouraged violence.

And the local leftists don’t seem to want to discuss other important issues such as the fact that the Center for Peacemaking is funded with money obtained from the “Merchants of Death” (Harak’s term) or the fact that Harak said that Saddam Hussein was justified in invading Kuwait in 1991.

Thus we find a typical tactic. Harak and his supporters are attacking the messenger to avoid dealing with serious questions about their “peacemaking” project.

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10 Comments:

Anonymous Student Thomas said...

I am a student who just finished a course with Father Harak and can tell you first hand this man is doing a wonderful job at teaching non violence to our students. It is people who walk into our classrooms close minded that take away from his cause. He has challenged myslef and many other students of my class to look at things from a different perspective, and those people who are open to listening find the truth in what he is saying. When i first walked into class he told me that although there are many critics of his teaching, and that we should not believe everything we hear. He told us to go out and find answers ourselves and then make decisions on how to stop non violence. He may have stated that Sadam's invasion was justified, but take the time to listen why he is saying this. You put on your blog one quote without the rest of the statement to explain what is being said. The challenges that Father Harak puts us through to find the truth are like nothing that any other Marquette University professor is teaching today. There is a difference between bashing someone for being different and challenging their ideas. This intelligent man does not deserve the dirt you are throwing on his name. First and foremost I know him as Father Harak, but he also goes by Dr. Harak. This educated man has something important to say, and all of us should take the time to sit back and listen.

9:17 PM  
Anonymous MrsLovett said...

Wow....I don't know quite enough about the controversy surrounding Fr. Harak to comment extensively, but I certainly do know that the idea that there has been little violence against Arab-Americans since 9/11 is far from the truth. Hundreds of incidents of violence targeted at Americans of Arab descent, and Americans pegged as "Muslim-looking", including many South Asians, have been documented since 9/11. Check out this report for more:

http://www.tolerance.org/news/article_hate.jsp?id=485

9:45 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Student Thomas,

You seem to be assuming that anybody in the class who didn't agree with Harak are "close minded."

Isn't that a bit intolerant of different viewpoints?

And you seem to have admitted that he tried to indoctrinate the class. Rather than examining pacificism and just war theory, he just tried to convert you to his point of view.

As for his support for Saddam's invastion, there was a link in the post.

Here it is:

http://mu-warrior.blogspot.com/2005/03/speaker-apologist-for-saddams-kuwait.html

And here is the essay referenced:

http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/blog/harak.html

Why don't you read it?

10:34 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

MrsLovett,

Hundreds of incidents over 6 years in a nation of 300 million isn't a lot.

By the way, tolerance.org is an extremely intolerant politically correct operation.

10:55 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Dr. McAdams,

Thank you for covering this stuff while Daniel and I have been busy with finals; we really appreciate it. We'll add more of our comments as soon as finals are done.

It wouldn't surprised me if "Student Thomas" was the same itchy leftist student who was furious that Simon Harak's vicious list of qoutes were handed out before his first class to his students.

I find it hypocritical for "Student Thomas" to state that "close minded" students came to appreciate Harak's ultra leftist activism. I won't hold my breath for leftists like him to find it "open minded" if some moderate liberals disagree with Harak's propaganda work for Saddam Hussein.

Briefly, about the article, I also thought that the bullseye was intended to suggest that S.H.'s critics were "targeting" him, etc. I find the leftist response to this almost Orwellian; if nothing else, it demonstrates that you just cannot please these people.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Daniel Suhr said...

Let me echo Brian's appreciation, and add these two thoughts.
Of course the leftists in the greater Milwaukee area are thrilled with the addition of Fr. Harak to the faculty. He is encouraging their efforts and using Marquette resources to sponsor a number of pacifist-oriented events that these same local lefties attend. The Tribune report on his non-violence retreat indicated that half of the attendees were not affiliated with Marquette, i.e., area anti-war activists. It should be no surprise, then, that they are swift to his defense.
Second, the phrase "harassment campaign" is an eminently ironic choice of words, coming from WNPJ. I wonder if the store owners and shoppers at East Towne Mall, subject of a recent "die-in," felt harassed by the protesters' antics, which led to seven arrests. Would the public servants working in Cong. Ron Kind's district office feel subject to a harassment campaign as protesters stage a sit-in of his office, leading to arrests, the response to which was another sit-in?
Let me get this straight - blog posts criticizing the public statements of a professor and public figure is a "harassment campaign," but the activities of WNPJ and its members is simply legitimate public discourse on important national issues.

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Sparky said...

So let me see if I have this right: Some folks complain to a magazine about a message, and they're practically Orwellian in their intolerance. Some GOP3 guy expresses his complaints about a someone's message, and it's called exercising free speech.

Um...yeh.

But enough about consistency, let's look at the post, shall we?

“The web page complained that the article: . . . did not quote any Marquette students who were not critical of Father Harak. . . .”

And it appears they are correct. Or at least you have not shown the claim to be false. Where the comments Harak provided came from is completely irrelevant, unless you are implying that not one student had a favorable impression of Harak’s course.

“In reality, the photo seemed to show a pro-Harak bias, implying that those of us who have been critical of the leftist cleric want to assassinate him or something.”

This is just staggeringly goofy. You really think an image of a target on the head of someone shows bias in FAVOR of that person? Wow.

“But Harak can’t seem to resist playing the victim card and invoking violence against Arab-Americans. In fact, such violence has been extremely rare, and nobody who wrote about Harak (and this includes both Marquette bloggers and Milwaukee Magazine) knew he was Arab-American.on.”

Someone finds it troubling that they are portrayed with a target on their head and you call it playing the victim card. I mean really, how can you write this stuff?

And this is the greatest bit of all:

“When we asked for a response from Harak sponsor and cohort Michael Duffy (who is also associated with the Center), Duffy appeared to be grateful for the information and promised to look into the issue…. And the local leftists don’t seem to want to discuss other important issues such as the fact that the Center for Peacemaking is funded with money obtained from the “Merchants of Death”

If you actually follow the link you provide, you find that Duffy does not merely say he will look into the matter. He actually offers a well-reasoned argument that the criticism is full of baloney. The response from you and GOP3? Rather than engage with an actual argument we get: Um…well, uh, we’ll let others comment. Er…we’ll get back to you on that one.

Now to the comments:

“Student Thomas,
You seem to be assuming that anybody in the class who didn't agree with Harak are "close minded."
Isn't that a bit intolerant of different viewpoints?”

You must be employing some technical, special political science definition of “intolerant,” but it doesn’t resemble anything the rest of mean by the term. I’m sure you think, for example, that all feminists are confused in some way. So, does that make you intolerant? After all, you’re simply assuming that people who don’t agree with you on this are “confused.” The fact is, nothing ST said suggests that he does not tolerate differing views.

“By the way, tolerance.org is an extremely intolerant politically correct operation.”

Of course it is, because any organization that claims to be tolerant is not tolerant of intolerance. And it is thus intolerant. Or something.

Finally, Brian, would you please learn what the word “Orwellian” actually means. It gets SO tiring listening to people on the right use that term to refer to just about anything.

2:55 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Sparky,

The problem with feminists is not that they are "confused in some way." It's that they really don't like a lot of people (men, Republicans, Christians).

As for tolerance.org being "intolerant of intolerance," this is a formula that intolerant leftists use to try to justify their hostility to those with whom they disagree.

The problem they have is that they label "intolerant" anybody who disagrees with their political veiws.

They actually say that having American Indian mascots is "racist."

Tolerance involves being open to a variety of different viewpoints on different issues. Simply labelling "racist" or "sexist" or "homophobic" anybody you disagree with is intolerant.

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Sparky said...

John,

If you mean what you say here then you owe student thomas an apology for suggesting that he is intolerant.

You say the problem with feminists is that they don't like a lot of people. First, you have yet to make a case for that except maybe anecdotally. Second, again, you can't seem to grasp the simple distinction between not liking men and not liking social structures that put women at a disadvantage with respect to men. What is so hard about that distinction for you? Most of the women feminists I know love their husbands and have close male friends.

The man-hater stereotype is just so tired. You can do better than that. (Think about how you feel every time someone on the left says that people on the right are fascists.)

Finally, it seems pretty clear that you use the term "feminist" in the same spirit that someone might use the term "racist" or "homophobe." After all, you think feminists are intolerant. But as it turns out, you just disagree with the idea of feminism. So I guess before criticizing others for being intolerant, you might want to look at you own intolerance. After all, are you really open to a variety of different views about women's roles in society and family? Are you really open to other views about whether a native American mascot is racist? I don't think you are. So by your lights, you're intolerant.

Here is one thing I haven't been able to figure out about you. And I mean this question in all seriousness: Do you take yourself to be tolerant and think groups such as tolerance.org are not? Or are you proudly intolerant and just wish others would fess up to their intolerance?
Both are intelligible positions (I think). I just don't know what yours is.

4:31 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

Sparky,

I really should be grading papers rather than debating with you, but let me give in to the temptation one more time:

If you mean what you say here then you owe student thomas an apology for suggesting that he is intolerant.

He is the one who said that his classmates were "close minded" and that "people who are open to listening find the truth in what he is saying."

He really need to ask himself whether it is legitimate to disagree with Harak, or whether he is going to demean people who do.

To be equally intolerant on the other side, one would have to say that only "closed minded" people agree with Harak.

it seems pretty clear that you use the term "feminist" in the same spirit that someone might use the term "racist" or "homophobe."

Not exactly. I think a lot of feminists have deep-seated cultural biases, and some are complete bigots. But I've never said that feminism per se is bigoted.

you can't seem to grasp the simple distinction between not liking men and not liking social structures that put women at a disadvantage with respect to men

The problem is that feminists say things such as that rape is a tactic -- like a protection racket -- that men as a group use to keep women down.

You read my post on what Tobin said, didn't you?

That reminds me of what a Klansman would say about blacks.

And feminists misrepresent the "social structures." They loudly proclaim that discrimination in labor markets results in women making less money than men, when in fact it's the choices that women make.

Are you really open to other views about whether a native American mascot is racist? I don't think you are. So by your lights, you're intolerant.

I'm "tolerant" about letting people express such views, but if they start calling people "racist" who disagree with them, I think they are being bigots.

Do you take yourself to be tolerant and think groups such as tolerance.org are not? Or are you proudly intolerant and just wish others would fess up to their intolerance?

I am vastly more tolerant than the politically correct leftists.

Remember, Jess Cushion said that anybody who opposes gay marriage should not be allowed to speak on the Marquette campus, since that would be "hate speech."

Do you agree with Cushion, or not?

I see nothing wrong with pro-gay marriage speakers on campus.

The Muslim Student Association at UWM tried to get a speech by Walid Shoebat cancelled.

I think he should have been allowed to speak.

What do you think?

Let's see who is tolerant here!

5:23 PM  

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