Awards: A Strategic Tactic
and how newspapers, journalists, editors and others readily fall for it
Page created Nov 30, 2013; Last updated Apr 29, 2014
Gulenist organizations often hold annual "awards ceremonies" which are exploited to flatter public officials, law enforcement officials, journalists, newspaper owners or editors, and others who may be useful for the Gulen Movement's goals.
While it is believed that most (perhaps all) of these people were chosen for strategic reasons by the Gulen Movement, that does not necessarily reflect negatively on all of these individuals themselves, some of whom may be quite unaware of the full scale of the Movement's activities.
However, it is objectionable that some journalists and newspaper editors or owners who accept awards from the Gulen Movement follow up by running an uncritical story about the awards ceremony, which amounts to free, positive publicity for the awarding Gulenist entity.
One of the most flagrant violations of journalistic ethics is the April 19, 2013 column written by Kay Campbell after receiving an award from the Gulen Movement's Peace Valley Foundation in Huntsville, Alabama. Campbell has long functioned as a cheerleader for the Gulen Movement, and has not, in any of her columns, allowed for the possibility that there are legitimate grounds for criticizing the Movement. This column, in which she writes that "I was among three awardees given a lovely dinner and inspiring words by the Huntsville chapter of the international Peace Valley Foundation," and "I'm honored to have been chosen for an award by the group," reads like a lengthy advertisement for the PVF, Fethullah Gulen, and the Gulen Movement. She insinuates that all detractors of Gulen are merely "either religious fanatics or political zealots." This sort of one-sided coverage is not true journalism. Journalists should keep a professional distance from organizations that they intend to cover in their columns.
Journalists and newspaper editors and owners should maintain awareness that being flattered with an award at a lavish dinner and much talk of saving the world from extremism through "dialog" has the capacity to lull them into complacency. It is not serving the public when a "news" story about a Gulenist organization quotes only the lofty-sounding stated mission from its website and mentions none of the numerous controversies surrounding the GM, or the question of its true agenda. The news value of these incessant GM ceremonies is questionable, as the number of individuals involved in any of numerous Gulenist dialog organizations scattered across the country tends to be quite small, and their events do not reflect a large segment of the community. The Gulenist organizers are members of a highly-coordinated worldwide organization, not local "grassroots" volunteers as they pretend to be. While the "moderate Muslim" storyline satisfies the media demand for "feel-good" happy news, there is no convincing evidence whatsoever that sitting around a table with copious quantities of good food and engaging in mutual self-congratulation over one's superior level of tolerance has ever had the slightest effect on extremists who, after all, are never invited to these events. Nor should the attendance by FBI agents or other law enforcement officers be taken as a seal of endorsement for the GM; it is well-known that such individuals are charged with engaging with the community for various reasons including the gathering of information. One wonders then:
- Would the Chicago Tribune have run a story (June 5, 2009) on the Niagara Foundation's awards ceremony on June 4, 2009, were it not for the fact that the Tribune itself was a recipient of an award?
- Would CBS Detroit have covered (Nov 12, 2012) the Niagara Foundation Michigan's “Peace and Dialogue” Awards Ceremony if Carol Cain, their Senior Producer, hadn't received the "Niagara Media Award"?
- Would the Manchester NH Union Leader have run a piece (Oct 15, 2013) on the Turkish Cultural Center New Hampshire's second Annual Friendship Dinner and Award Ceremony if Joseph McQuaid, president of this newspaper's owner, the Union Leader Corp., hadn't received the organization's "media award"?
- Would the Albuquerque Journal have published an article (Nov 8, 2013) on the Dialogue Institute of the Southwest’s annual Dialogue and Friendship Dinner and Awards Ceremony if Kent Walz, editor in chief of the Albuquerque Journal, hadn't been given the "Media Award"?
- Would KWGS Public Radio Tulsa have run a story (Nov 15, 2013) on the Dialogue Institute of the Southwest's awards dinner if KWGS hadn't been the recipient of the "Media Award"?
and so forth.
Awardees have also included strongly pro-charter-school public officials such as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Maine Governor Paul LePage, as well as public officials who have the ability to make decisions or set policy affecting charter schools, and who thus could directly affect the Gulen Movement's revenue from their publicly-funded charter schools. For example, one recipient, Michigan State University (via its Education Department) has the power under Michigan law to directly authorize charter schools.
Numerous awards have gone to attorney generals, prosecutors, police officers or chiefs, sheriffs, homeland security officers, etc, in what appears as a transparent attempt by the GM to ingratiate itself with law enforcement. Given that the Gulen Movement's charter schools are the subject of several state and federal investigations, this seems self-serving. In the wake of the high-profile prosecution and sentencing of Adem Arici, one might wonder if there is a hope that memories of an award and satisfying dinner might lead to softer treatment. Arici has been a board member of the Turkish Cultural Center of New York, a Gulenist lobbying powerhouse, and also has been affiliated with Sema Education and Health Development, which forgave a loan to Fulton Science Academy, a Gulen charter school in Georgia. A couple of Arici's co-defendants in the federal tax fraud case involving over 50 million dollars are fugitives from justice. This lends a certain irony to the Gulen Movement's "Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinners."
The following list of awards is far from comprehensive, and entries will continually be added.
April 29, 2014 Dialogue Institute of the Southwest, Raindrop Foundation, Fountain Magazine, Dialogue and Friendship Dinner, Lawrence KS
- State Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence; Community Leadership award
- Douglas County Commissioner Mike Gaughn; Community Leadership award
- Lawrence Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen (L.I.N.K.) director Greg Moore; Outstanding Public Service award;
- Kansas University Dean Danny Anderson; Outstanding Education Service award
- Vice Mayor Jeremy Farmer; Outstanding Public Service award
April 25, 2014 Niagara Foundation, Peace and Dialogue Awards 2014, Milwaukee WI
- Michael R. Lovell, Chancellor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Education Award
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, received by Martin Kaiser, Editor & Senior Vice President/Digital Content; Media Award
- United Way of Greater Milwaukee, received by Mary Lou Young, President and CEO; Community Service Award
Dec 5, 2013 Peace Islands Institute, third annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner
- Anthony P. Kearns III, Hunterdon County Prosecutor
- Michael Saudino, Bergen County Sheriff
- Dennis Carletta, Assistant United States Attorney, NJ District
- Philip Frigm, Supervisory Special Agent FBI Newark
- Drew Lieb, Deputy Director of Homeland Security
- Trooper James Hearne, New Jersey State Police
- Trooper Ruben Benavidez, New Jersey State Police
Nov 14, 2013 Dialogue Institute of the Southwest, Dialogue and Friendship Dinner, Tulsa OK
- KWGS Public Radio Tulsa; Media award
- Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glaze; Leadership Award
- Tulsa City Councilor G.T. Bynum; Public Service Award
- Lutheran Bishop Emeritus Floyd Schoenhals; Fetullah Gulen Peace Award
- Ozark Christian College student Ashley Weece; Dialogue Award
Nov 12, 2013 Turkish Cultural Center Maine
Paul LePage, leadership award (Note: Gov. LePage is strongly in favor of charter schools and has proposed legislation that favors them)
- University of Maine professor Habib Dagher, director of Offshore Wind Laboratory
- William Stokes, Maine Deputy Attorney General, Augusta Mayor
Nov 8, 2013 Dialogue Institute of the Southwest, Annual Dialogue and Friendship Dinner and Awards Ceremony
- James B. Lewis, New Mexico state treasurer; Leadership Award
- Robert G. Frank, president of the University of New Mexico; Education Award
- Kent Walz, editor in chief of the Albuquerque Journal; Media Award
- Michael Geier, Albuquerque Police Department, Southeast Area; Public Service Award
- Frank Yates, pastor at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church; Community Service Award
- Ahmet Tiryaki, owner of DAMA Construction; Dialogue and Friendship Award
Oct 24, 2013 Dialogue Institute of the Southwest, Annual Dialog and Friendship Dinner, UMKC Student Union
- Ed Eilert, Johnson County Chairman; Community Leadership Award
- John M. Douglass, Chief of Police Overland Park; Outstanding Public Service Award
- Wanda J. Blanchett, PhD., UMKC Dean of Education; Outstanding Education Service Award
Oct 24, 2013 Niagara Foundation Michigan
- College of Education, Michigan State
University, received by Dr. Donald Heller, Dean, "Education Award" (Note that any university in Michigan has the power to authorize charter schools)
- InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit, received by Robert A. Brutell, Chair of the Board of Directors, "Peace Award"
- Rochelle Riley, Columnist, Detroit Free Press, "Media Award"
- Gleaners Community Food Bank, received by W. DeWayne Wells, President, "Community & Public Service Award"
Oct 24, 2013 Rumi Forum, Washington DC
- José Andrés, Chef and Owner, ThinkFoodGroup (Extraordinary Commitment to Community Service Award)
- Annette Lantos, Chairman, Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice (Extraordinary Commitment to Peace Award)
- Ali Mazrui, Professor, University of Binghamton (Extraordinary Commitment to Education Award)
Oct 15, 2013 Turkish Cultural Center New Hampshire, Manchester NH
- Joseph McQuaid, publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader ("media award")
- Kate Baker, Network for Educational Opportunity ("education award")
Sep 16, 2013 Niagara Foundation Eighth Annual Peace & Dialogue Awards; Chicago
- Hon. Anne M. Burke, Illinois Supreme Court Justice; Niagara Commitment Award
- City Club of Chicago, represented by Chairman Paul Green; Niagara Community Service Award
- Dr. Bassiouni, Emeritus Professor of Law, DePaul University School of Law; Niagara Fethullah Gülen Award
April 18, 2013 Peace Valley Foundation, Huntsville AL
- Kay Campbell, religion reporter for The Huntsville Times (Community Service in Media Award)
- Huntsville High School teacher Chanda Davis (Community Service in Education Award)
- Rev. Frank Broyles (Community Service Award)
April 12, 2013 Intercultural & Interfaith Dialog Student Association, University of Kansas, 5th Annual Dialog and Friendship Dinner & Awards Ceremony
- Laurie Scott, Lawrence KS Police Department School Resource Officer; “Outstanding Community Dedication Award”
- Dru Sampson; “Outstanding Community Service Award”
- Michael Dever, Mayor, Lawrence KS; “Outstanding Public Service Award”
- Dr. Eve Levin, History Professor, University of Kansas; “Outstanding Education Service Award”
2012 Rumi Forum
- Martin O’Malley,Governor, State of Maryland; "Extraordinary Commitment to Public Service" award
- Hannah Rosenthal, Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, US Department of State; "Extraordinary Commitment to Public Service" award
- Special Representative Farah Anwar Pandith, Special Representative to Muslim Communities, US Department of State; "Extraordinary Commitment to Public
- Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, Archdiocese of Washington; "Extraordinary Commitment to Peace" award
- Ajla Delkic, Executive Director, Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina; "Extraordinary Commitment to Peace Building"
Nov 15, 2012 Niagara Foundation Michigan, Annual “Peace and Dialogue” Awards, Detroit
- Carol Cain, CBS 62 Senior Producer and “Michigan Matters” host; Niagara Media Award
- University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman; Niagara Education Award
- Daniel Krichbaum, director of Michigan’s Civil Right Commission; Niagara Leadership Award
- Rev. Michail T. Curro, Executive Director of the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice; Niagara Peace Award
Oct 23, 2012 Institute of Interfaith Dialog Annual Friendship Dinner
- Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett; Leadership Award,
- Police Chief Chuck Jordan; Public Service Award
- Businessman Sanjay Meshri; Philanthropy Award
Oct 29, 2012 Pacifica Institute, San Francisco CA
- Congressman Mike Honda, Peace and Dialog Leader plaque
- Supervisor Dave Cortese; Diversity Leader plaque
Oct 23, 2012 Istanbul Center, Atlanta GA
- Dr. Michael Adams, President of University of Georgia Athens; Diversity Appreciation Award
- Joseph H. Lumpkin Sr., Chief of Police, Athens-Clarke County Police Department; Diversity Appreciation Award
Oct 15, 2012 Turkish Cultural Center New Hampshire & Peace Islands Institute; first Annual Friendship Dinner & Award Ceremony.
- Michael A. Delaney, New Hampshire Attorney General; community service award;
- Virginia M. Barry; NH State Commissioner of Education; education award
- Jennifer Vaughn, WMUR-TV anchor; media award
- Victoria Arlen, gold medalist, 2012 London Paralympics
Nov 16, 2011 Rumi Forum
- Joshua DuBois, Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (“Extraordinary Commitment to Public Service Award”)
- Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus, Cape Town, South Africa
- Dr. Alan G. Merten, President, George Mason University
- Diane Rehm, Host of The Diane Rehm Show
- Rev. John Bryson Chane, Episcopal Bishop of Washington
Nov 2011 Institute of Interfaith Dialog, Friendship Dinner and Award Ceremony, Oklahoma City OK
- Bill Citty, Oklahoma City police chief; "public service award"
- David Goin, Edmond Public Schools Superintendent; "education award"
- Vince Orza, President/CEO KSBI-52; "media award"
April 28th 2011 Interfaith Dialog Center , Law Enforcement Dinner, Parsippany NJ
- Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno
- Assistant SAC Kevin Cruise, FBI Newark
- Supervising State Investigator John Paige, NJ Homeland Security
- Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdes
- NJ State Senator Anthony Buccom, 25th District
- Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, 37th District
- William Schievella, Chief of Investigations for Morris County Prosecutor's Office
2010 Rumi Forum
- Arne Duncan, US Secretary of Education (Note: Arne Duncan has been a major supporter of charter school expansion)
- Eleanor Holmes Norton, DC Congresswoman
- Alex Kronemer & Michael Wolfe, Unity Productions Foundation
- Didier Drogba, President, Didier Drogba Foundation
Nov 11, 2010 Istanbul Center 8th Annual Dialogue & Friendship Dinner
- Vernon Keenan, Director, Georgia Bureau of Investigation; Istanbul Center Award
Mar 3, 2010 "Turkish-Kansan Friendship Reception," Capitol Plaza Hotel, Topeka KS. Organizers: Turquoise Council of Americans and Eurasians, Kansas Raindrop Turkish House
- State Treasurer Dennis McKinney, Leadership Reward, Turquoise Council
- State Senator Derek Schmidt, Public Service Award, Turquoise Council
- State Senator Chris Steineger, Public Service Award, Turquoise Council
- State Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau, Public Service Award, Turquoise Council
June 4, 2009 Niagara Foundation
- Chicago Tribune; media award
- Illinois Atty. Gen. Neil Hartigan; "lifetime achievement award"
- Richard Rosengarten, Dean, University of Chicago Divinity School, Fethullah Gulen award