Saturday, July 26, 2008

Op-Ed Piece on Nonprofits and the War on Terror

William Fisher has authored an interesting op-ed piece on the effects the current war on terror is having on civil society.  Here is an exerpt:

"While the House Un-American Activities Committee once relied on the private sector to mete out punishment through the destruction of reputations and careers, today measures such as the Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines have turned funders into the new enforcers. In this light, [Professor David Cole, a constitutional law expert at the Georgetown University Law Center] said.  He said the nonprofit sector has an obligation to resist such a partnership with government," he says.  Other observers believe that the campaign against charities that conduct programs in Muslim areas is part of a larger suspicion of Arabs and other Muslims. Samer Shehata, professor of Arab Politics at Georgetown University, told me Islamophobia "produces an environment that is fundamentally at odds with what the U.S. is supposed to be about; our values for treating everyone fairly and not discriminating on the basis of skin color, race, religion, gender, etc."  He adds, "This is damaging certainly for all Americans and it is also damaging for the reputation of the U.S. overseas. One of the questions I hear the most whenever I am in Egypt and other parts of the Middle East is: how is it like now in the U.S. for Arabs? Have you been the victim of discrimination, bigotry, abuse?"

For a copy of the OMB Watch report, on which the op-ed is largely based, see our recent blog post on the topic.


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