The lies and slanders of Think Progress's report on "Islamophobia."
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.”
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.