(/sites/default/files/uploads/2011/07/r.gif)Norman Lear, founder of PFAW
Just in time for the media’s shameful dogpile on anti-jihadist writers like Robert Spencer for supposedly inspiring Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik’s rampage last week, People for the American Way (PFAW) just released its fanciful “Right Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism.” Predictably, it’s a hateful exercise in distortions and omissions that mischaracterize critics of jihad as conspiracy-theory bigots aiming to deny the rights of all Muslim-American citizens.
The PFAW, a leftist activist group and “watchdog” of what it deems to be the fearsome and shadowy Religious Right in America, was created in 1981 by former TV producer Norman Lear to combat Christian conservatives, promote progressive policies, and elect progressive candidates. It features such fair-minded intellectual powerhouses on its board of directors as actor-and-politician-wannabe Alec Baldwin and Seth MacFarlane, whose animated TV series Family Guy routinely and viciously ridicules Christians and conservatives. Currently in the crosshairs are those who speak out about the dangers of Islamic radicalization and the stealth jihad in this country.
The “Right Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism” – entirely a creation of the PFAW, by the way, not anyone on the Right – lists “eight key strategies employed by the Right to inflame anti-Muslim sentiment and turn hatred and bigotry into political weapons.” The list is as follows:
1. Frame Muslim-Americans as dangerous to America
2. Twist statistics and use fake research to “prove” the Muslim threat
3. Invent the danger of “creeping Sharia”
4. “Defend liberty” by taking freedoms away from Muslims
5. Claim that Islam is not a religion
6. Maintain that Muslims have no First Amendment rights under the Constitution
7. Link anti-Muslim prejudice to anti-Obama rhetoric
8. Claim an “unholy alliance” exists that includes Muslims and other groups targeted by the Right Wing
Now, there are perfectly reasonable arguments to be made about, for example, the dangers of creeping Sharia and a progressive-Islamist alliance, or the fact that Islam is not a religion in the same sense as, say, Christianity or Judaism. But the PFAW dismissively treats such issues as imaginary constructs of conspiracy nuts on the Right. To paint anti-jihadists as raging bigots as well, it quotes them quite often without the full context or quotation, and links not to original sources, but to other blatantly biased progressive sites like the Southern Poverty Law Center or Media Matters which purport to “monitor” the Right.
“Under the guise of defending freedom and American values,” the “playbook” on the PFAW’s “Right Wing Watch” page ominously begins: “Right-wing anti-Muslim activists are campaigning to prevent Muslim-Americans from freely worshiping and practicing their religion, curtail their political rights, and even compel their deportation.” Every phrase of this sentence is false, as is the thrust of the entire report. No responsible anti-jihadist author or politician – be it Robert Spencer, Brigitte Gabriel, Steven Emerson, Rep. Allen West, Rep. Peter King, Frank Gaffney or a similar target of the PFAW’s demonization – is seeking to deny or curtail any rights of all Muslim citizens in this country or to deport them (unless they are here illegally, in which case, deportation may be a legitimate option, depending on the circumstances – as it would be for anyone here illegally, not only Muslims).
And yet the PFAW “playbook” repeatedly hammers away at the lie that the Right is simply targeting all Muslim-Americans. “With sweeping and cutting rhetoric,” the report asserts, “anti-Muslim activists claim that all or nearly all Muslim-Americans support terrorism, violence, the abuse of women and the abrogation of American law and ideals.” This complete falsehood is typical of the “sweeping and cutting rhetoric” the PFAW itself uses throughout its imaginary “playbook.” There is no conspiratorial movement afoot to curtail the rights of law-abiding Americans who simply happen to be Muslim; what’s at issue is identifying the demonstrable threat of Islamic terrorism, radicalization, and the stealth jihad in this country and eradicating it, for the safety of all Americans.
But this report does not take seriously the notion that any such threat exists. There is no discussion of Islamic terror attacks carried out or thwarted, no discussion of the Muslim Brotherhood’s subversive presence here (except when dismissed as conservative fear-mongering), no acknowledgment of the radical Wahhabi lobby and its funding of the majority of the mosques in America (except, again, when dismissed out of hand). The stealth jihad likewise is treated as a loony conspiracy concocted in the fevered imagination of Islamophobes – even though it is straight out of the “playbook” of the Muslim Brotherhood (which actually refers to it as “civilizational jihad”).
And thus, despite the mounting numbers of terrorist recruits among American Islamic youth, the “playbook” attacks Peter King’s congressional hearings on Islamic radicalization: “King and his allies claim that Muslim-Americans are using both peaceful and violent means to destroy America and curtail the nation’s freedoms, and argue that Americans must curtail Muslims’ liberties and freedoms in order to stop them.” Again, no authoritative critic of jihad, including King, labels all Muslim-Americans as a threat or claims that those innocents are not allowed to enjoy the liberties that other Americans enjoy. The “playbook” simply pretends that Islamic extremism in its various forms, violent and otherwise, does not exist here, and instead presents the Right as the real subversive threat to freedom in America.
Muslims themselves are the most numerous victims of Islamic supremacists. In turning a blind eye to the threat of worldwide jihad, it is actually the Left, not the Right, that is endangering all Muslim-Americans. If the PFAW were truly committed to protecting the religious freedoms of all and to “promoting the American Way and defending it from attack,” as its mission statement claims, it would turn its spotlight on the clear and present danger of jihad in America, and cease smearing as racists, bigots and purveyors of hate speech the courageous figures on the Right who are truly working to protect the American way.