According to the Center for American Progress, the reason that nearly half of all Americans have a negative view of Islam is because of three and a half Jews and an Irishman. If such an allegation were being made by a Saudi cleric or an Egyptian newspaper, we could laugh it off along with the aphrodisiac gum, the GPS shark and other regional conspiracy theories about the Jews. But that’s not the case here.
Time Magazine described the Center for American Progress as the most influential outside group in the Obama Administration. Run by Clinton’s former Chief of Staff, and funded by shady billionaires, the growing influence of the shadowy organization on the Democratic Party has troubled even the mainstream media.
“It is difficult to overstate the influence in Obamaland of CAP,” Time wrote. It is even more difficult to overstate its influence on the media, which relies on talking points created by the Center and its blog, ThinkProgress. And that makes the CAP’s descent into scapegoating all the more disturbing.
The Muslim world often blames its problems on the Jews. And “Fear Inc”, the CAP report, does the same thing by claiming that five men, three of whom are Jews (while a fourth is employed by a Jew – as the report notes – and receives underwriting from two more Jews), have turned Americans against Islam. But is the 49 percent negative rating for Islam really attributable to a handful of terrorism experts who managed to convince a fourth of the country to change its view of Islam? Or is it attributable to years of terrorism, war, blood curdling incitements from assorted imams and thousands of dead Americans?
Such scapegoating is not new. England’s first socialist party blamed the Boer War on the Jews. Henry Ford claimed the Jews were behind WWI. Charles Lindbergh delivered speeches accusing the Jewish lobby of stirring up war against Germany. The echo of those allegations can be found in “Fear Inc.”, which denounces scapegoating, even as it engages in it.
The majority of Americans have never heard of Frank Gaffney or David Yerushalmi, and they could not begin to name any of the experts or foundations in the report. If their view of Islam is negative, it’s not because a handful of foundations and terrorism experts have convinced them of something contrary to their perceptions. It is because they have lived through years of violence and terror.
If ThinkProgress editor and report co-author, Faiz Shakir really wanted to understand why his religion is viewed negatively by so many Americans, all he needed was to take a walk in their shoes. To stand at Ground Zero, the graveyard of thousands murdered by holy warriors invoking the Koran, to walk through Times Square, where a fellow Pakistani plotted to detonate a car bomb, or to visit the small towns where every few weeks a body is lowered into the ground courtesy of a Muslim terrorist.
Such a journey would be difficult, because it would mean coming to terms with the moral crisis of the Muslim world. It would mean empathizing with Americans, who were willing to give Islam the benefit of the doubt after September 11 until they realized over the years that it was not a one-time event, but a pattern of violence. A pattern that only Muslims can break.
Rather than make the journey, Shakir and his co-authors counter one villain with another. If Americans view Islam badly, it can only be because a handful of Jewish experts financed by other rich Jews brainwashed them into it. Such ideas can be commonly found in the Pakistani press – or that of any number of other Muslim countries – but they should have no place in America. When Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad blamed Jewish influence for the poor image of Muslims in the West, he was widely condemned for it. It is troubling that such views have now found their way into a widely publicized report by the brain trust of the Democratic Party
In the dark days of the Twentieth Century, while Jewish storeowners were sweeping up broken glass, and Jewish children were being assaulted on the streets of Europe– the appeasers were blaming the Jewish lobby for growing tensions in Europe. Now as Jewish storeowners sweep up broken glass after leftist pro-Muslim attacks on their stores and Jewish children are attacked again on the streets of Europe– growing tensions with the Muslim world are once again blamed on the Jewish Lobby.
The Center for American Progress is guilty of repeating a sinister history by searching for easy answers to difficult questions at the expense of an American minority that is already the victim of the vast majority of religion based hate crimes. And the Democratic Party is guilty of not paying attention to where its talking points are coming from.
In “Fear Inc.”, Muslims appear only as victims and Jews appear over and over again as villains, out to make them look bad. There is no acknowledgment that Jews, Christian Arabs and Greeks, whom Shakir’s report also targets, are persecuted minorities in the Muslim world. And that such attacks on persecuted minorities who are trying to tell their story by a member of the persecuting majority is unworthy of a party that claims to defend the rights of minorities.
Should peoples who have been subject to generations of genocide and persecution be intimidated into silence this way? Are the stories of the minorities of the Middle East to be labeled “Islamophobia”? And will the voices of moderate Muslims like Zuhdi Jasser and Tawfik Hamid who advocate reform and tolerance (and who are attacked and defamed in this report), also be silenced?
“Fear Inc.” labels any dissent from the Islamic view of history as “Islamophobia”, and blames the most scapegoated group by the Muslim world for its spread. But blaming Jews for Islamophobia, is as useless as blaming them for the overthrow of Mubarak, as the Egyptian government did, or the removal of Saddam Hussein, as many American progressives have.
The handful of mostly Jewish terrorism experts blamed in “Fear Inc” did not cause the bubbling violence and fanaticism in the Muslim world that is now spreading through immigration. And silencing them, or those Muslims who speak out for reform, will not change the perceptions of Americans who are regularly confronted with terror alerts, beheadings and videos of splattered body parts.
It is not the Jews who have turned Americans against Islam—it is the Muslims who have done it. If Shakir wants to improve the image of Islam, then he needs to do it by tackling its ills. Reform does not happen when critics are silenced, but when their criticisms no longer apply. Muslims who claim to be progressive, but defend organizations associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, are living a lie. And Muslims who are not willing to address the problems with Islam that have led to terrorist plots and attacks, including some against Jewish targets, but instead launch their own verbal and written attacks against Jews– are equally part of the problem.
The problem is not Islamophobia– it is the Islamic jihad, and its host societies which rely on conspiracy theories while rejecting reform, and which naturally seeks to silence those who oppose it. By employing Faiz Shakir and his co-authors and distributing the conspiracy theories of “Fear Inc.”, the Center for American Progress and the Democratic Party do the work of the jihadists and have thus also become part of the problem.