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Numerous times “Fear, Inc.” condemns the “Islamophobes” for claiming that the majority of American mosques are radicalized and preach violence. This assertion stems from Yerulshami’s study, “Shari’a and Violence in American Mosques,” which CAP says “speciously claims that more than 80 percent of U.S. mosques feature texts that promote or support violence.” How is it specious? As usual, the report does not specify. Instead the authors cite a contradictory study called “Anti-Terror Lessons of Muslim-Americans” which paints a much rosier picture of Islamic radicalization in the U.S. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross demolishes this latter study for “its complete methodological failure,” saying that it “reads more like an advocacy brief than academic research, drawing sweeping conclusions from insufficient evidence” and that the authors “draw sweepingly positive conclusions without considering evidence that would disturb their thesis.”
Scholar Daniel Pipes, founder of the Middle East Forum which publishes the highly respected Middle East Quarterly, is described in “Fear, Inc.” as “one of the linchpins of the Islamophobia network.” Like others in the so-called network, Pipes is criticized in the report for his “alarmist rhetoric” and his campaign against the Ground Zero mosque. Oh yes, and he was mentioned in Breivik’s manifesto.
While Muslims have every legal right to build a mosque near Ground Zero, this initiative carries the unmistakable odor of Islamic triumphalism. More importantly, Abdul Rauf’s dubious background and associations give reason to worry that his center will spread Islamist ideology. Therefore, it should be barred from opening.
Regarding the triumphalism, a notion which CAP says has become an “Islamophobe” talking point, Pipes explains,
Moslems have habitually asserted the supremacy of Islam through architecture, building on top of the monuments of other faiths (as in Jerusalem and Ayodhya) or appropriating them (e.g. the Ka’ba in Mecca and the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople). This pattern still continues – as recently as October , when it happened at Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus.
As evidence of Pipes’ “Islamophobia,” the report cites a cranky piece by the acid-penned Christopher Hitchens speculating about Pipes’ character: “I suspect that Pipes is so consumed by dislike that he will not recognize good news from the Islamic world even when it arrives.” [Emphasis added] Hardly damning. Then the report says, “Without corroborating evidence, Pipes smeared the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR” in an article called “CAIR: Islamist Fooling the Establishment.” The report doesn’t specify how he smeared CAIR, but the phrase “without corroborating evidence” is laughable. Pipes’ article is 7700 words of evidence condemning CAIR’s radical connections, which CAP ignores.
The report goes on to say, “His Islamophobia took a further turn when in 2008 he recommended increased racial profiling of Muslims and Arabs to cope with this impending exaggerated threat.” However, the footnote to this claim cites this article by Pipes, in which he does not recommend increased racial profiling; rather, he criticizes the hypocrisy of authorities pretending not to profile: “Again and again, counterterrorist authorities focus at Muslims but insist they are not doing so. Muslims decry this hypocrisy and so do I. It’s best to be honest and open about necessary preventative actions, however distasteful they may be.”
Then Pipes is attacked in the report for launching the Legal Project as “a source of information on ‘Islamist lawfare’—that is, attempts by supporters of radical Islam to suppress free discourse on Islam and terrorism by (1) exploiting Western legal systems and traditions and (2) recruiting state actors and international organizations such as the United Nations.” CAP does not explain why preventing assaults on free speech is a bad thing, unless it’s because “free discourse on Islam and terrorism” is Islamophobic.
The report’s authors criticize author-blogger-commentator Robert Spencer, the director of Jihad Watch, as “the primary driver in promoting the myth that peaceful Islam is nonexistent and that violent extremism is inherent within traditional Islam.” As supposed evidence of Spencer’s lack of credibility, they cite Islamic scholar Carl Ernst and Little Green Footballs blogger Charles Johnson who denounce him as untrained and bigoted, respectively. Spencer himself responds:
Ernst’s dismissal of my work on the basis of my having “no academic training in Islamic studies whatsoever,” besides being false, is completely void of substance: the determination of whether or not one’s work is accurate is not decided by the number of one’s degrees, but by the nature of the work itself… Ernst’s own objectivity, moreover, is in severe doubt after he flew to Tehran in December 2008 to accept an award from Iran’s anti-Semitic, genocide-minded Islamic supremacist President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Another compromised authority that “Fear, Inc.” cites is Charles Johnson, the “Little Green Footballs” blogger who several years ago moved from the right to the hard Left, betraying his former friends and posting vicious and arguably libelous false charges about them. For “Fear, Inc.,” Johnson’s blog is “popular” and “right-leaning,” when in fact it is no longer either one.
Attempting to disprove Spencer’s interpretation of the nature of Islam, the report cites the 2004 Amman Message issued by the King of Jordan” which demonstrates “widely shared Sharia-based condemnation of violence from the world’s leading Islamic authorities.” Spencer addresses this too:
“Fear, Inc.” likewise trumpets the 2004 Amman Message as a “Sharia-based condemnation of violence from the world’s leading Islamic authorities.” The report deceptively fails to mention, however, that the Amman Message forbids Muslim-on-Muslim violence based on takfir, or declarations by one Muslim group that another is apostate. The Amman Message’s three points, mentioned in “Fear, Inc.,” do not address violence or non-violent jihad activity against non-Muslims at all, and the Amman Message’s website actually endorses an undefined “legitimate jihad.”
The report also claims that Spencer supports Gaffney’s “conspiratorial claims that President Obama’s religious identity and his support of Egyptian democracy are endorsement of the Muslim Brotherhood and its alleged “Islamist” agenda. They quote Spencer as saying that “certainly [Obama’s] public policies and his behavior are consistent with his being a committed and convinced Muslim.”
Investigative journalist Steven Emerson, now head of the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), an invaluable resource on radical Islam in America, was a sort of early warning system for the jihadist threat in this country. His documentary Jihad in America alerted Americans as far back as 1994 of the growing presence here of Muslim fundamentalists – a documentary that the authors of “Fear, Inc.” acknowledge won renowned journalism awards. “But,” they object weakly, “reviews were mixed.” As evidence, they point to one review by the left-leaning magazine The Nation, which claimed hyperbolically that Emerson was “creating mass hysteria against American Arabs” – this despite the fact that the documentary carefully distinguishes between Islamic militants and the larger Muslim-American community.
Once again “Fear, Inc.” uses the tiresome and insubstantial tactic of attempting to link an anti-jihadist to Breivik’s mass murder. It notes that Emerson was mentioned twice in Breivik’s manifesto, without revealing that they occur in a separate document that Breivik cut-and-pasted into his own. There is no evidence that Breivik even knows who Emerson is, much less that he was “inspired” by him.
The report also attempts to invalidate Emerson’s work by raising questions about his funding (a structure approved by his lawyers) – a transparent attempt to divert attention from the mountain of evidence he and IPT have amassed on the spread of radical Islam in America.
The report’s authors are outraged that Emerson supposedly “frames Islam as an inherently violent and antagonistic religion” – citing him as saying it “somehow sanctions genocide, planned genocide, as part of its religious doctrine.” This glosses over the fact that Emerson was referring to what the militants themselves maintain that their own religion commands them to do. Again, if CAP wants to counter the “wildly over-the-top portrayals of Islam” that these “Islamophobes” are “peddling,” the most effective way would be to directly address these supposed mischaracterizations with evidence to the contrary, based on authoritative Islamic sources – but the authors of “Fear, Inc.” don’t bother. It’s much easier to simply divert from the truth by shouting “Islamophobia!”
Emerson is also accused of condemning politicians for “simply seeking outreach and conciliation with Muslim American communities.” This false accusation rears its ugly head over and over again in “Fear, Inc.” What the report’s targets are opposed to is government outreach to Muslim Brotherhood front groups, who do not represent the very Muslim American communities CAP pretends to care about. A recent survey from the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center reveals that
Only 12% of men and 11% of women surveyed said that the ubiquitous, high-profile CAIR speaks for them. Single digit percentages of the respondents, ranging from 0% to a mere 7%, said they felt that other prominent national Muslim interest groups, like the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and the Muslim American Society (MAS) – all groups with their roots in the Muslim Brotherhood – represent them.
The report also attempts to condemn Emerson, and Daniel Pipes as well, for bigotry for initially suggesting in 1995 that the Oklahoma City truck bombing, later determined to be perpetrated by government-hating Timothy McVeigh, bore the hallmarks of Islamic terrorists. The report omits that this assumption was widespread among the U.S. government and news media at the time because there was abundant precedent for it, most notably the truck bomb that blew up the U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut in 1983, and the bomb in a van that destroyed part of New York’s World Trade Center in 1993 – both set off by Muslim extremists, as were dozens of others in the ‘80s and ‘90s. In his statement Emerson was reflecting on the characteristics of the attack, not ascribing blame.
The report also ignores other statements he made in the first few days after the bombing, such as “there is no specific evidence about which groups are responsible” (CBS, April 20, 1995) and “there’s no hard evidence at this point” (NBC, April 20, 1995). The CAP report says that Emerson sees “Muslim extremism in America – even where it doesn’t exist”; in fact, it is CAP that insists on seeing bigotry where it doesn’t exist.
The report labels some lesser-known experts about radical Islam as “validators” who help “authenticate manufactured myths about Muslims and Islam.” As with the five primary “Islamophobes,” the report devotes virtually no space to refuting the substance of the validators’ so-called “manufactured myths”; instead, these figures are simply painted as anti-Muslim bigots.
Former U.S. Navy officer and practicing private physician Zuhdi Jasser is president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) in Phoenix, Arizona, an activist Muslim organization that “provides a platform for an American Muslim movement to separate spiritual Islam from the political.” Like all the other “Islamophobes,” he is dismissed in the report as a conspiracy nut claiming that “America is infiltrated by radical Muslims” – which it undeniably is. The AIFD is one of the Muslim-American organizations that our government and media should be reaching out to, instead of Muslim Brotherhood front groups.
Because he is Muslim himself, Jasser poses a particular challenge for the authors of the report, who make this bizarre insinuation about him: “At first glance, Jasser appears to be a moderate Muslim.” Are they saying that Jasser is not moderate? He’s surely not an extremist. Are they suggesting then that he’s not Muslim? That because he supports the “Islamophobes” in their quest to root out the radicals in our midst, he’s not a real Muslim? Apparently the report’s authors have assumed the authority to determine who qualifies to be a Muslim, much the same way that the Left assumes the authority to determine who is authentically black and who is an Uncle Tom.
The report also criticizes Jasser for
repeat[ing] the Islamophobia scholars’ fictitious claim that the Obama administration “pander[s] to groups that are clearly Islamist.” Jasser’s evidence includes then-White House adviser Valerie Jarrett appearing as a keynote speaker at the Islamic Society of North America’s 2009 annual conference. The event was also attended by evangelical titan Rick Warren, whose participation Jasser conveniently ignores.
Why should Jasser have mentioned Warren? The pastor’s own pandering is irrelevant to Jasser’s point that the Obama administration panders to Islamists – in this instance, the Islamic Society of North America, which is a Muslim Brotherhood legacy group. Jarrett’s appearance there validates ISNA as a legitimate organization representative of Muslim-Americans, which it is not.
Jasser is criticized also for his participation in documentaries that are dismissed out of hand and without elaboration as “fear-mongering,” which is the authors’ demonizing label for any attempt to educate people about the threat of global jihad.
Former Palestinian terrorist Walid Shoebat, now a Christian convert, is scolded in the report for “being paid for his ‘expertise,’” his controversial Christian beliefs, and – surprise – for having been cited by Breivik. The report tries to cast doubt on his background (which Shoebat defends here) and his credentials – and yet, as the report itself notes, Shoebat was recently hired again by the Department of Homeland Security to speak at a law enforcement conference.
Phares is the director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, D.C. and an expert lecturer for the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies. He is in CAP’s sights for being “a former militiaman and foreign affairs spokesman for the mostly Christian Lebanese Front, which was responsible for the Sabra and Shatila massacres of Muslims during the September 1982 Lebanese Civil War,” and, like others named in the report, for identifying the most prominent Muslim-American organizations in America as being “jihadists with in the West pos[ing] as civil rights advocates” – like CAIR, whose press release claims that “Mr. Phares is a ‘former official with the Lebanese Forces, a Christian militia.’ This militia was implicated, by Israel’s official Kahan inquiry and other sources, in the 1982 massacre of civilian men, women and children at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon.”
As Robert Spencer notes on Jihad Watch,
This is the guilt-by-association game that the Left and its Islamic supremacist allies love to play… But there are some critical and unanswered questions: Did Phares order this massacre? Was he even there? Did he then or does he now approve of massacring civilians? Hamas-linked CAIR doesn’t ask them, of course, because the answers would most likely be inconvenient. Walid Phares is a fine researcher and analyst, with no “extreme” or”hateful” positions.
Writer, women’s rights activist, and former Muslim Nonie Darwish is the director of Former Muslims United and affiliated with Arabs for Israel, “an organization of Arabs and Muslims who respect and support the State of Israel and welcome a peaceful and diverse Middle East.” The report finds her objectionable because of her concern over Obama’s embrace of Islamist organizations, and her testimony that “the education of Arab children is to make killing of certain groups of people not only good, it’s holy.” As usual, the report offers no rebuttal to this claim, which is based not only on her own personal experience in Egypt but on abundant evidence not only in the Arab world, but in Islamic schools in the West.
Other Experts: Clare Lopez, Tawfik Hamid, and Stephen Coughlin
The report names these respected counterterrorism analysts as Islamophobes as well. Ms. Lopez is criticized primarily for stating that “it is not ‘fear-mongering’ to point out that mainstream, orthodox Islamic doctrine, law, and practice are antithetical to the U.S. Constitution and our way of life in a democratic, free, liberal, pluralist, and tolerant society.” CAP does not explain how Ms. Lopez is wrong about this.
Mr. Hamid is a Muslim reformer and former member of al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, the Egyptian terrorist organization,” and a Centre for Counterterrorism Strategic Studies faculty member, quoted in the report only for “stating that Muslims ‘prefer this violent traditional teaching of Islam.’” No context is given for this quote, even in the original source for it, a CAP-style report called “Manufacturing the Muslim Menace,” which ascribes it to hearsay: “Blogger Richard Silverstein asserts that Hamid told [this to] an Ireland National Independent radio program.” [Emphasis added] Strangely, that report even confesses that “Hamid states that he is criticizing ‘radical Islam,’ as opposed to all Muslims.”
Mr. Coughlin, a former Joint Chiefs of Staff intelligence analyst, holds a law degree and a master’s degree in Strategic Intelligence with a focus on global terrorism and jihadist movements. He is included in “Fear, Inc.” apparently because his master’s thesis, “’To Our Great Detriment: Ignoring What Extremists Say About Jihad,’ argued that Islamic law advocates violent terrorist ideology and strategy.” Once again, the CAP report offers no rebuttal to Coughlin’s position. CAP also notes that he appeared at a conference alongside Spencer and Geller, “where he implied ‘that moderate Muslims are not good Muslims.’” Again, no context is given for this “implication” in the report or in the original source (“Manufacturing the Muslim Menace” again); for all we know, Coughlin might have been quoting the jihadists themselves, who certainly believe that moderate Muslims are not good Muslims.
“The Right-wing Media Enablers”
Chapter four takes on two prominent figures who serve, according to the report, as bullhorns for the anti-Islam propaganda espoused by the aforementioned “Islamophobes”: David Horowitz and his Freedom Center organization, with its websites FrontPage Magazine and Jihad Watch, and Pamela Geller’s blog, “Atlas Shrugs.”
As with so many of the accusations in “Fear Inc.,” the report cites selective, incomplete quotes from Horowitz and Geller, often out of context, and sources them sometimes to “dead” web links in the footnotes or to such leftist sources as the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which is hilariously described as “nonpartisan.”
An SPLC report calls the David Horowitz Freedom Center one of the main organizations that “helped spread bigoted ideas into American life.” Among these so-called bigoted ideas that the SPLC report notes are the historical truths that Africans, abetted by Arabs, contributed to the slave trade, and that “there never was an anti-slavery movement until white Christians created one.” To disprove this latter quote from Horowitz, the SPLC report mentions historical slave revolts, such as the famous one of Spartacus against Rome, as evidence to the contrary. Of course there were slave revolts – but a revolt of slaves themselves is not the same as an anti-slavery movement among non-slaves.
The CAP report criticizes Horowitz and his websites for accusing President Obama of a pro-Islamist agenda:
Robert Spencer uses the website to deliberately misconstrue President Obama’s support of Egyptian democracy as an endorsement of the Muslim Brotherhood and their Islamist agenda… On top of that, Horowitz and his colleagues claim that President Obama’s outreach to global Muslim-majority countries is proof of his radical Islamist agenda.
In a pamphlet titled “Obama and Islam,” Horowitz and Spencer say that, “In fact, Obama’s statement represents something far more disturbing than naiveté: a conscious effort to appease Islamic supremacism in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East, and an energetic willingness to pander to the Islamic world in general.”
Unsurprisingly, it is CAP that is “deliberately misconstruing” things here. Horowitz et al have not objected to the innocuous-sounding “outreach to global Muslim-majority countries,” but rather to Obama’s embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood or even more militant factions in those countries, such as the al Qaeda-backed rebels in Libya. This certainly suggests an Islamist agenda, or unprecedented geopolitical naiveté at best. As for the quote from the Horowitz-Spencer pamphlet about Obama’s appeasement and pandering, the CAP report doesn’t offer any refutation of the abundant evidence for them presented in the pamphlet. But proving the critics wrong isn’t part of the methodology of “Fear, Inc.”; simply dismissing them as “Islamophobes” is.
Horowitz is also falsely accused of denying “First Amendment rights to Muslims to build houses of worship and pray according to their faith.” First of all, the footnoted link associated with this accusation leads to a page that has nothing to do with Muslims building houses of worship or praying. Second, there is no evidence that either Horowitz or any other figure smeared in “Fear Inc.” has sought to deny Muslims their right to build houses of worship or pray according to their faith. What they have protested legally and nonviolently is the erection of “mega-mosques” such as the Park51 project whose funding or participants suggest a connection to Islamic supremacists at home or abroad.
The report goes on to accuse Horowitz of “peddling myths and conspiracy threats” about Islam in the Freedom Center’s Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week programs on college campuses. Curiously, it doesn’t specify what any of these myths and conspiracies are, except for the one oft-repeated in the report “that mainstream Muslim groups and organizations are actually fronts for Islamist extremists.” As has already been noted, the groups and organizations in question are Muslim Brotherhood offshoots such as ISNA and CAIR, which are the most prominent, powerful, and mainstream Muslim groups in the country.
Horowitz is also criticized for hosting “an annual elite conference” of conservative figures and a “lunch forum that provides a platform for conservative politicians, media personalities, and others.” CAP fails to make clear how this is outrageous evidence of Islamophobia.
Finally, the report cites
an example from Fox News of [Horowitz’s] raw bigotry and unsubstantiated conspiratorial views about mainstream Muslim student groups. ‘The point here is that there are 150 Muslim students’ associations,” Horowitz said, “which are coddled by university administrations and treated as though they were ethnic or religious groups, when they are political groups that are arms of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the fountainhead of the terrorist jihad against the West.”
By referring to “Muslim students’ associations” in lowercase, the report slyly obscures the fact that Horowitz was referring to branches of the Muslim Students Association (MSA), which was the first affiliate of the subversive Muslim Brotherhood to gain a foothold in the U.S. and a key lobbying organization for the fundamentalist Wahhabi sect of Islam. Contrary to the report’s dismissive claim, this is overwhelmingly substantiated.
As for Pamela Geller, some of the report’s criticism of her is guilt-by-association with other “Islamophobes” like Gaffney, Yerushalmi, and – you guessed it, Breivik, who cited her twelve times in his manifesto, CAP wants you to know. The report also notes that she is “best known as the public face of the protest against” what it innocuously refers to as “the Park51 community center in lower New York City.”
Additionally, it attacks her for such “outrageous and racist claims” as suggesting that Obama was “essentially backing Al Qaeda in Libya” – which he did, by supplying al Qaeda-backed rebels there with arms and support – and saying that “everything this president has done so far has helped foster America’s submission to Islam” – which he has. She is charged further with “conspiratorial claims” that include:
President Obama is a Muslim; Arabic is not just a language but actually a spearhead for anti-Americanism; radical Islam has infiltrated our government, which is being run by Islamic supremacists; and Muslims are engaged in stealth cultural jihad by wearing their headscarves at Disneyland…
Geller also sees the enemy Islam infiltrating President Obama’s administration. Beyond that, Geller is convinced that President Obama has been, or continues to be, a practicing Muslim. Geller says President Obama is a “muhammadan” who “wants jihad to win.”
Bold positions? Yes – Geller has a take-no-prisoners style. But that doesn’t make her Islamophobic or wrong. As with most of the other “Islamophobic” claims noted in “Fear, Inc.”, the report does not present her arguments for her positions, much less refute them, either because the authors of the report cannot or because it is easier and a more effective strategy to simply cite them as prima facie evidence of Islamophobia.
“Fear, Inc.” consists precisely of what it accuses its targets of – slanderous fear-mongering. The report, like the very concept of “Islamophobia,” is a bludgeon to silence the critics of radical Islam, who they claim “spread a deliberately misleading message about Islam and Muslims that is fundamentally antithetical to our nation’s founding principles of religious freedom, inclusivity, and pluralism.” On the contrary, it is precisely in defense of those principles that the so-called “Islamophobes” in question literally risk their lives to expose and confront the threat of Islamic fundamentalism.
At the close of the report’s introduction, the authors make this proclamation:
It is our view that in order to safeguard our national security and uphold America’s core values, we must return to a fact-based civil discourse regarding the challenges we face as a nation and world. This discourse must be frank and honest, but also consistent with American values of religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and respect for pluralism.
Bravo. No disagreement there. Indeed, it is a matter of national security that we return to a fact-based, frank and honest civil discourse about the current challenges to American values, including the subversive threat of the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence on our shores. But the authors say only that this threat has been entirely manufactured by Islamophobic bigots. They go on to say that
[a] first step toward the goal of honest, civil discourse is to expose—and marginalize—the influence of the individuals and groups who make up the Islamophobia network in America by actively working to divide Americans against one another through misinformation.
Replace the fanciful phrase “Islamophobia network” in that paragraph with “Islamic supremacists and their supporters,” and we will have made a very significant first step indeed.
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