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The recently released report “Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” from the George Soros-funded Center for American Progress (CAP), purports to expose a sinister network of American “Islamophobes” funded by a “flood of cash” who manufacture conspiracy theories about Islam, spread hate and bigotry against all Muslim-Americans, and inspire violence toward them, all for financial and political gain. But in fact, the very concept of Islamophobia is manufactured propaganda used by the subversive Muslim Brotherhood and their leftist support network to demonize and silence critics of Islamic fundamentalism.
The authors of “Fear, Inc.” are counting on its impressive length (138 pages), cascades of footnotes, a few three-color graphics, and professionally glossy cover to convince readers that it is thoroughly sourced, unbiased and undeniable proof of their thesis. Stephen Walt at Foreign Policy, to name one, seems to have been convinced, calling it “a remarkable piece of investigative work” and then parroting its ludicrous accusation that, instead of the threat of radical Islam, “what we are really facing is a well-funded right-wing collaboration to scare the American people with a bogeyman of their own creation.” A bogeyman of their own creation? It takes an impressive degree of ideological self-delusion to convince oneself that Islamic extremism is a mere chimera of the right.
Although there are dozens and dozens of serious, qualified critics of Muslim fundamentalism, the report hones in on five figures it deems to be the central nervous system of this Islamophobic”network:
• Frank Gaffney at the Center for Security Policy.
• David Yerushalmi at the Society of Americans for National Existence.
• Daniel Pipes at the Middle East Forum.
• Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch and Stop Islamization of America.
• Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
The report also targets other perpetrators whom they label “the validators” and “the activists,” as well as miscellaneous “misinformation experts,” “political players,” “right-wing media,” and “grassroots organizations and the religious right.” The focus of this response will remain on the principal players that the report targets for their “Islamophobia.”
The authors of the report claim that “due in part to the relentless efforts of this small group of individuals and organizations, Islam is now the most negatively viewed religion in America.” Some of that negativity may indeed stem from these individuals and organizations educating people about unsettling aspects of Islam that they were unaware of before, aspects that contradict the Left’s (and many on the Right’s) mantra that Islam is a Religion of Peace.
Far from being unbiased or even seriously investigative, the report’s methodology consists almost entirely of its authors painting their targets as sinister, conspiratorial bigots rather than addressing the substance of their arguments. Contrary to the authors’ own claim that they reject “shrill, fear-based attacks” and desire a “fact-based civil discourse,” the report is packed with ugly terminology designed 1) to demonize these falsely labeled “Islamophobes” as a “small band of radical ideologues” and “misinformation experts” who are intentionally “mischaracterizing Islam,” “peddling hate and fear of Muslims,” and “raving” of the “overhyped dangers” of Sharia, and 2) to dismiss their work, which is described repeatedly as “sinister,” “hateful,” “purposively deceptive,” “bigoted,” “racist,” and the like.
Note, for example, the report’s insistent use of the label “anti-Muslim,” a slur which automatically designates anyone trying to educate others about the very real threat of global jihad as a mere bigot. As Robert Spencer himself puts it in his refutation of the report’s misinformation:
The term “anti-Muslim” is immediate evidence of the manipulative, propagandistic nature of this report: my work, and the work of the other scholars and activists demonized in “Fear, Inc.,” has never been against Muslims in the aggregate or any people as such, but rather against an ideology that denies the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and the equality of rights of all people.
As David Horowitz replied in his statement about the report, “Muslim terrorists have a vested interest in accusing their critics of being anti-Muslim. Think Progress has joined them as enablers.”
(ThinkProgress, where the report was also posted, is CAP’s sister advocacy blog. It creatively downplays the threat of Islamic extremism by posting such comically unhelpful – not to mention grammatically incorrect – pieces as “Terrorism Killed Less [sic] Americans in 2010 Than Dog Bites.” The site also maintains a loud drumbeat of trumped-up charges of Islamophobia.
For example, ThinkProgress posted an article about a February, 2011 plot to set off explosives at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan. The article posits that an “Islamophobic atmosphere of hate” pushed the perpetrator Roger Stockham [described pointedly as a “Vietnam veteran”] to seek to do harm to Muslims. But as even their own article notes, Stockham has a long history of anti-government activities, and “served time in federal prison for threatening to kill President George W. Bush and bomb a Vermont veterans’ clinic in 2002.”
ThinkProgress didn’t mention that Stockham also has a history of psychiatric problems, claimed to be a Muslim convert himself, and according to the bar manager who reported him to the police, “didn’t intend to attack the mosque with fireworks and felt no enmity toward its members, but was protesting the government’s investigation into the 2007 killing in Iraq of a Reuters photographer and his driver by a U.S. Apache helicopter.” Islamophobia, in other words, had nothing to do with his motivation.)
In addition to “anti-Muslim,” the report makes many dozens of references to Islamophobia, which it defines as “as an exaggerated fear, hatred, and hostility toward Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from America’s social, political, and civic life.” (The authors don’t address the possibility that much of what they consider Islamophobia might simply be a perfectly rational, legitimate concern about the clear and present danger of Islamic supremacism.) Claire Berlinski explains how the term was chosen as “the best way to exploit the weaknesses of the Western psyche” in her article, “How the Term Islamophobia Got Shoved Down Your Throat”:
The neologism “Islamophobia” did not simply emerge ex nihilo. It was invented, deliberately, by a Muslim Brotherhood front organization, the International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT), which is based in Northern Virginia…
Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, a former member of the IIIT who has renounced the group in disgust, was an eyewitness to the creation of the word. “This loathsome term,” he writes, “is nothing more than a thought-terminating cliche conceived in the bowels of Muslim think tanks for the purpose of beating down critics”…
Muhammad describes the strategy behind the word’s invention:
In an effort to silence critics of political Islam, advocates needed to come up with terminology that would enable them to portray themselves as victims. Muhammad said he was present when his then-allies, meeting at the offices of the International Institute for Islamic Thought in Northern Virginia years ago, coined the term “Islamophobia.”
Muhammad said the Islamists decided to emulate the homosexual activists who used the term “homophobia” to silence critics. He said the group meeting at IIIT saw “Islamophobia” as a way to “beat up their critics.”
Now the David Horowitz Freedom Center has produced a pamphlet called “Islamophobia – Thought Crime of the Totalitarian Future,” exploring and exposing the growing threat that this propaganda tool poses to free speech, especially considering the sympathetic treatment it’s being given by the Obama administration. As Nina Shea writes on National Review Online, “the Obama administration has inexplicably decided to launch a major international effort against Islamophobia in partnership with the Saudi-based OIC [Organization of the Islamic Cooperation].”
Predictably, the specter of McCarthyism is raised in the report as well, in a specious attempt to link the abovementioned anti-jihadists to “some of some of the darkest episodes in American history, in which religious, ethnic, and racial minorities were discriminated against and persecuted.” Addressing the threat of Islamic fundamentalism is not the same as persecuting all Muslims; indeed, “Fear, Inc.” notes that the majority of victims of Islamic extremists have been Muslims themselves. Therefore, by being at the forefront of the effort to identify and confront the militants, the report’s five “Islamophobes” and others in their “network” are actually defending non-militant Muslims – unlike the authors of the report, who are enabling the fundamentalists.
In addition to the false charge of McCarthyism, Ed Lasky at American Thinker and Daniel Greenfield in his own article point out that the report is buoyed by an undercurrent of anti-Semitism, stoking “the view that rich Jews operate behind the scenes and use their wealth to control the media and government policy.”
Another demonizing tactic recurring throughout the report is the slanderous connection the authors attempt to draw between their targets and Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik. In July, Breivik bombed a government building in Oslo and proceeded to murder many dozens of teens at a nearby youth camp, which was attended by the children of leftwing politicians whom he blamed for facilitating the Islamization of the West. The authors of the report waste no time trying to link him repeatedly to their targets; in fact, the report begins with a description of Breivik’s assault.
Breivik left behind a 1500-page manifesto which, as the authors of the report point out ad infinitum, cites the names and work of some of the “Islamophobes” they seek to smear:
Based on Breivik’s sheer number of citations and references to the writings of these individuals, it is clear that he read and relied on the hateful, anti-Muslim ideology of a number of men and women detailed in this report…
While these bloggers and pundits were not responsible for Breivik’s deadly attacks, their writings on Islam and multiculturalism appear to have helped create a world view, held by this lone Norwegian gunman, that sees Islam as at war with the West and the West needing to be defended.
The authors of the report know that they can’t blame the “Islamophobes” directly for the attacks, so they attempt to pin the murders on them in some vague way for having created “a negative world view” of Islam. This conveniently overlooks the glaringly obvious fact that it is the Islamic supremacists themselves, not their critics, who have created this world view. But it suits the authors’ agenda to ignore the Islamists’ many pronouncements that they are at war with the West, and to shoot the messengers instead.
The report begins with the intentionally misleading claim that Breivik cited scholar of Islam and Director of Jihad Watch Robert Spencer 162 times in his ramblings. In fact, as Daniel Greenfield notes, “Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto had pasted in hundreds of documents, one of which was an independently assembled collection of quotes from Spencer, Tony Blair and others on Islam.” In other words, most of those 162 “citations” came from a document Breivik didn’t even write, inserted into his own.
At one point, the report accuses Spencer of “completely sidestepping his own role in influencing Breivik’s worldview.” Actually, Spencer addresses this slander head-on:
Not surprisingly, it doesn’t mention that I have never sanctioned or justified violence, or that Breivik was plotting violence in the 1990s, before I had published anything about Islam, or that he complained that I was not recommending violence, or that he recommended making common cause with jihadists, which I would never do – indicating that his “manifesto” is actually ideologically incoherent, and not a legitimate counter-jihad document at all. These facts are not mentioned in “Fear, Inc.,” because they would interfere with its propagandistic agenda.
As he notes, “Breivik cited many, many people. He cited Obama approvingly. He cited the New York Times. He cited Locke, Jefferson, Darwin, etc. He said he thought that his ilk should make common cause with the jihadists.” The report purposefully neglects to mention this, because to do so would prove Spencer’s point about Breivik’s incoherent ideology.
The report also rarely addresses the legitimate concerns raised by the anti-jihadists. The authors merely characterize the anti-jihadists’ assertions as “misleading,” “inaccurate,” and “perverse” “fear-mongering” – without detailing how the supposed “Islamophobes” are wrong.
For example, the report states that its five principals are guilty of promoting “the deeply mistaken portrayal of Islam—a religion of nearly 1.6 billion people worldwide, including 2.6 million Americans—as an inherently violent ideology that seeks domination over the United States and all non-Muslims”:
Spencer neatly sums up their inaccurate and perverse view of Islam as “the only religion in the world that has a developed doctrine, theology and legal system that mandates violence against unbelievers and mandates that Muslims must wage war in order to establish the hegemony of the Islamic social order all over the world.”
How is this view inaccurate and perverse? The report’s authors do not explain; much less do they refute Spencer’s “deeply mistaken portrayal” with sourced arguments to the contrary. Spencer’s portrayal of Islam, on the other hand, derives from the Quran, the hadith, and the principal schools of Islamic jurisprudence in authority today. He replies:
[I]t is a matter of objective verification that all the mainstream Islamic sects and schools of Islamic jurisprudence do indeed teach that the Islamic umma must wage war against unbelievers and subjugate them under the rule of Islamic law. The report does not and cannot produce any evidence that Islam does not contain sects and schools that teach this.
Rather than provide that evidence, which would publicly and definitively discredit the “Islamophobes” and correct their supposed misportrayal of Islam, the report’s authors simply smear Spencer and the others as bigoted. They fall back on this tactic time and again throughout the report. So much for “fact-based civil discourse.”
First comes a chapter on funding, designed to leave readers shocked, shocked, that non-profit organizations receive funds from donors and that people there get paid for their work. Or as Daniel Greenfield puts it: “In a staggering expose, the Center for American Progress has released a 130-page report revealing that organizations which investigate Islamic radicalism are funded by money, not sunshine.” He notes that “the Center for American Progress’ campaign for donor transparency, however, stops at its own doors. While its own budget is many times that of the organizations that its report targets — the CAP’s policy is to keep the identities of its own donors secret.”
“Fear, Inc.” closes by acknowledging that it “was supported in part by a grant from the Open Society Foundations,” the most prominent of the numerous foundations belonging to the international billionaire financier George Soros. Although the Center for American Progress describes itself as “a nonpartisan research and educational institute,” it is part of the administrative core of Soros’s “Shadow Party,” the network of non-profit activist groups organized by Soros and others to mobilize resources to advance progressive agendas, elect progressive candidates, and steer the Democratic Party ever-further towards the Left.
“The Islamophobia Misinformation Experts”
Then comes chapter two, on the five men “primarily responsible for orchestrating the majority of anti-Islam messages polluting our national discourse today,” already identified above as Frank Gaffney, David Yerushalmi, Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer and Steven Emerson.
These men are “intentionally misdefining” Sharia as “a totalitarian ideology” “for their own monetary and political ends,” the report claims. Its authors say that Sharia, or Islamic religious law, is observed “in part and in different ways by every practicing Muslim.” The authors then put forward that the above “misinformation experts” “are effectively arguing that only the extremists’ interpretations of Islam are authentic, and that therefore the diversity of moderate interpretations within Islam is meaningless.”
As Spencer puts it on his website, Jihad Watch,
Because Sharia originates with the Quran and the Sunnah [the teachings and precedents of Muhammad], it is not optional. Sharia is the legal code ordained by Allah for all mankind. To violate Sharia or not to accept its authority is to commit rebellion against Allah, which Allah’s faithful are required to combat…
[T]here are few aspects of life that Sharia does not specifically govern. Everything from washing one’s hands to child-rearing to taxation to military policy fall under its dictates. Because Sharia is derivate of the Quran and the Sunnah, it affords some room for interpretation. But upon examination of the Islamic sources (see above), it is apparent that any meaningful application of Sharia is going to look very different from anything resembling a free or open society in the Western sense. The stoning of adulterers, execution of apostates and blasphemers, repression of other religions, and a mandatory hostility toward non-Islamic nations punctuated by regular warfare will be the norm. It seems fair then to classify Islam and its Sharia code as a form of totalitarianism.
But don’t take Spencer’s word for it. Instead, rely on the authoritative opinion of Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, who, as Joseph Klein writes,
is listed as fourteenth out of 500 of the world’s influential Muslim figures, according to the most recent study released by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center and the Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University…
Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood , was one of the scholars who endorsed the 2004 “Amman Message,” a document the CAP authors rely on to show what they called “the dynamic, interpretive tradition of Islam in practice.”
Does Qaradawi agree with the CAP authors’ description of Sharia as “not political” and “in harmony with the core values at the heart of America”? Not a chance. As he explains in his book, “Al-Din wal-Siyasa” (Religion and Politics), all Islamic scholars agree that Sharia embraces the law, the state, religion and politics:
The Islamic shari’ah governs all of the actions of those who are obligated (to it). There is no act or occurrence which exists without a corresponding ruling from one of the five shari’ah rulings (obligatory, recommended, prohibited, reprehensible, or permitted). This has been confirmed by fundamentalists and scholars from every faction and school of thought associated with Islam… Whoever reads the books of the Islamic shari’ah, I mean the books of Islamic jurisprudence, in its different schools of thought, will find that they comprise all of the affairs of life, from the jurisprudence of purity, to that of the family, society, and the state. This is very clear for every elementary student, not to mention those in the world who are more capable.
Moreover, Qaradawi said that Sharia is not a pick-and-choose menu, as CAP’s authors would have us believe. Islam “rejects the partitioning of its rulings and teachings,” he declared. Nor is Sharia an ever evolving religious guidepost for human behavior, subject to change by human beings. “Shariah cannot be amended to conform to changing human values and standards,” said Qaradawi…
In sum, Qaradawi’s description of Sharia sounds much closer to the way that Frank Gaffney ’s Center for Security Policy, one of CAP’s targets for condemnation, has described Sharia in its book “Sharia: The Threat To America”:
[A] “complete way of life” (social, cultural, military, religious, and political), governed from cradle to grave by Islamic law… Shariah is, moreover, a doctrine that mandates the rule of Allah over all aspects of society.
The Center for Security Policy book quoted Qaradawi as a source for its analysis of Sharia, in addition to quoting extensively from the Koran and other primary Islamic texts. The CAP authors avoided any mention of Qaradawi, and did not quote from the Koran or any other primary Islamic texts to support their thesis. Are they prepared to say that Qaradawi is not really a legitimate scholar of Islam venerated in the Muslim world after all?
The authors also accuse the experts of exaggerating “the extent to which radical Islam is infiltrating America through the presence and active participation of American Muslims in civic, social, and political life.” As an example, they point to
the controversy in 2010 surrounding the Park51 community center in lower Manhattan, which revealed how these experts perpetuate the notion that mosques are no longer houses of worship but “Trojan horses” harboring and disseminating radical Islamic theology.
Though described innocuously as a “community center in lower Manhattan,” Park51 would contain a mosque and sit on the site of a building destroyed by debris from one of the jets that hit the World Trade Center on 9/11, which protesters argue makes it part of Ground Zero. The report presents Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, one of the project’s lead organizers, as a “well-intended” figure who has undertaken the venture “to combat Islamic extremism.” And it presents the project’s opponents as fabricating “a myth that the center would be built as a testimony to Islam’s dominance.” In fact, Rauf is not the moderate he claims to be, and even the initial name of the project – Cordoba Project – implies conquest. Frank Gaffney’s prominent opposition to what became known popularly as the Ground Zero mosque kicks off the CAP report’s profile of the five major “Islamophobes.”
Gaffney, the founder of the Center for Security Policy think tank, is accused of “peddling” an “increasingly paranoid misrepresentation of the threats posed by Islam in America,” and of using “the tactics of Sen. Joseph McCarthy… to spread an increasingly shrill message of hate and fear.” And naturally, the report makes sure you know he was mentioned in Breivik’s manifesto.
Like all the other targets of this report, Gaffney is painted as a conspiracy theorist for concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood’s infiltration of American society:
[I]t is now public knowledge that nearly every major Muslim organization in the United States is actually controlled by the MB [Muslim Brotherhood] or a derivative organization. Consequently, most of the Muslim-American groups of any prominence in America are now known to be, as a matter of fact, hostile to the United States and its Constitution.
CAP offers no examination or refutation of this or any other charge against the Brotherhood, except to describe it, with an almost comical degree of neutrality, as “the seminal Islamist political organization in the world.” “Fear, Inc.” does try to dismiss Gaffney’s concerns about stealth jihad by claiming he relies on
a single 20-year-old document titled “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America” written by one member of the Muslim Brotherhood. That document has been thoroughly discredited as a strategy document of the Muslim Brotherhood, and revealed instead to be a piece of hapless propaganda.
That 18-page document lists the Brotherhood’s 29 likeminded “organizations of our friends” that share the common goal of dismantling American institutions and turning the U.S. into a Muslim nation. These “friends” were identified as groups whose “work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion [Islam] is made victorious over all other religions.” It has not been discredited, thoroughly or otherwise, despite what George Washington University professor Nathan Brown claims in CAP’s report. Typical of the report’s strategy of demonization, Brown dismisses Gaffney as beneath contempt rather than addressing his argument: “I have better things to do with my time than investigating the veracity of his raving.”
Gaffney wrote an article entitled “America’s first Muslim president?,” in which, CAP complains, “he incorrectly alleged there is ‘mounting evidence that the president not only identifies with Muslims, but actually may still be one himself.’” CAP calls this Gaffney et al’s “greatest public relations triumph—the obfuscation of President Obama’s Christian religious identity as a potential Muslim or former Muslim.” Actually, Obama has done a fine job on his own of obfuscating the issue of his religious identity – all Gaffney did in his article was marshal some of the evidence, which CAP doesn’t bother to address; instead CAP dismisses it simply as “incorrectly alleged.” If the evidence is incorrect, why not demolish Gaffney’s argument by correcting it?
The report tries to be dismissive of Gaffney’s criticism of President Obama’s symbolically obeisant waist-bow before the king of Saudi Arabia, by noting that “in 2005, George W. Bush held hands with Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdullah and even kissed his cheek.” The difference is that Bush’s interaction with the Prince was an Arab cultural sign of solidarity and kinship, and though it may have been a distasteful one to Americans, at least it was not a subservient one.
“Fear, Inc.” also tries to diminish Gaffney’s concerns about the ascendant Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt by labeling him “out of touch with many conservatives.” As evidence, they cite The Weekly Standard’s William Kristol extolling the virtues of the so-called “Arab Spring”:
The Arab Spring deserves to be greeted with enthusiasm and support…Decades of ‘stability’ in the Middle East had produced a waste land of brutal authoritarianism, Islamic extremism, and corrosive anti-Americanism…. No more. The Arab winter is over.
Yes, Gaffney is out of touch with this rosy fantasy, considering how it has actually played out, with Egypt and Libya and other Arab countries degenerating into Islamist chaos.
As “one of the lead engineers of the ‘anti-Sharia’ movement,” Gaffney is denounced for “the insidious purpose behind the crusade”: according to an ACLU report, it is “to bar Muslims from having the same rights and access to the courts as any other religious individuals.” This is nonsense. Not one of the falsely-labeled “Islamophobes” in this report seeks to exclude Muslim-Americans from the same rights as other Americans. The anti-Sharia movement is about preventing courts from considering Islamic law and giving some religious individuals rights that other Americans aren’t given. As David Yerulshami points out, courts in 23 states have already used Sharia as a factor in their deliberations, despite its contradictions of American law on the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, equality of rights for women, and more.
The report accuses Gaffney of waging a “vicious smear campaign” against Bush political appointee Suhail Khan and other Muslim staffers in the White House merely for “reaching out to Muslim groups.” Naturally this makes no mention of Khan’s extremist connections and Muslim Brotherhood affiliations.
David Yerulshami is the founder of the think tank the Society of Americans for National Existence and “the general counsel for many of the think tanks and grassroots organizations in the Islamophobia network.” He is denounced in the report for drafting “anti-Sharia legislation that would deny American Muslims their constitutionally protected right to freely practice their religion.” As mentioned above, this is a smear. No one is denying Muslims the right to practice their religion.
CAP also notes with disfavor Yerulshami’s quote from a March 2006 American Spectator article: “Muslim civilization is at war with Judeo-Christian civilization… the Muslim peoples, those committed to Islam as we know it today, are our enemies.” This, of course, is precisely what the Islamic fundamentalists have been telling Americans since even before the attacks on 9/11, and those Muslims are our enemies, whether they are committing acts of terrorism or pursuing a more subversive path, through the gradual “civilizational jihad” referred to in the Brotherhood’s “Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America.”
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