CAIR had its 15th annual banquet this past Saturday, Oct. 24, 2009, at the Gateway Crystal City Marriott in Arlington, VA. Located a few blocks from the Pentagon, it is ironic that their venue was the same used to host Arlington County's 9-11 After Action Conference, where first responders and officials from around the country came to learn from Arlington County's repose to 9-11.
All credit to my unnamed supporter, the theme of this year's banquet was the incredible shrinking CAIR. Embassies that attended in the past did not have tables, and though the Saudi Embassy had a table, only two people who may, or may not, have been from the Embassy arrived. Otherwise, it was 6 open seats at the table. Also notably absent were the Jordanian Embassy and the Iranian Interests Section. In doing a comparison between past banquets, far fewer embassies attended this year. However, while its old friends sat out, a new friend, in the form of Libya arrived. The Embassy of Libya had a full table as the Libyan Ambassador to the US attended the event. The Libyan Ambassador received special recognition by MC Mahdi Bray, and a very warm personal greeting from Esam Omeish. Perhaps this video contributed to Omeish's loss in his Dem. Va. Delegate primary loss:
CAIRs gave most of its awards its immediate inner circle. This raises the question of whether or not CAIR could find anyone of note that would actually accept the award. Mahdi Bray received one of their awards, perhaps for good work such as this:
This years banquet had more, and more visible, security. Marriott, Wachenhut, and CAIR staff put on a strong show. Of interest, the CAIR staff acting as security had badges this year, however I could not identify what the big gold shields said. If the shields had police, or special police, on them, they would have been in violation of Virginia law. It could not be determined if the increase in security was due to our video from last year, security required for Jesse Jackson, and or both.
The other big questions is why were Jesse Jackson, and sidekick Rabbi Steve Jacobs, their? Solicitations for the Rainbow Coalition PUSH were made, and as Bray said in pushing for donations for Jackson, "you've got to be a friend, to get a friend." Was Jackson there because CAIR paid for his help in response to the Myrick et al crackdown? Was Jackson just piling on to stay relevant?
Though I never agree with what they say, the speakers this year were worse than last year. Amidst a series of rambling, conspiracy theory, defensive, and half-hearted saber rattling, Larry Shaw stood out as the standout gaffe maker. Larry Shaw made a joke about the FBI sponsoring tables that was not well received due to the tangible paranoia in the room. He then proceeded to make an incoherent diatribe implying the US government was ignoring drug cartels to focus on low level drug dealers. Perhaps the most telling audience participation of the night was when Shaw asked the crowd separately if there were any U.S. military and then first responders in attendance. No one raised a hand or uttered a word. Dead silence.
Robert Spencer received a direct challenge from Mahdi Bray and Muslim Mafia was the target of the bully pulpit for the speakers. A victory in the Flying Imams case was also celebrated.
CAIR's donations that night, approximately $170,000+ helped them meet their quarterly goal of raising $1 million, alleged Bray after a substantially abbreviated fund raising effort by Siraj Wahhaj.
Funniest moment of the night goes not to a speaker, but to the Tiramisu that had alcohol in it. Only the Kafir in attendance recognized that wonderful haram taste.
I am working on scanning copies of the material that handed out at the tables near reception.
I sat with Martin McMahon (CAIR and Saudi lawyer), Arab News reporter Sarah Ferguson, and an Alhurrah anchor and producer. Always strange company at these events.