Lifting the Veil on the ‘Islamophobia’ Hoax
Lifting the Veil on the ‘Islamophobia’ Hoax
By Matthew Vadum, Foundation Watch, December 2015
Summary: The purpose of this paper is not to indict Islam. It is to warn readers about a dangerous effort to discourage Americans from thinking freely and arriving at their own conclusions about Islam. The made-up word “Islamophobia” is wielded as a cudgel against those who dislike the Muslim religion and those who are merely skeptical of it. The idea is to eventually make it as difficult and uncomfortable as possible to criticize the faith founded by Muhammad in the seventh century after the birth of Christ. And a lot of well-heeled funders are part of a long-term campaign aimed at mainstreaming the tenets of Islam in American society.
Remember when hysteria broke out at National Public Radio (NPR) in October 2010? Panic ensued when liberal commentator Juan Williams dared to share a personal anecdote on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News Channel.
NPR fired Williams not because he disparaged Muslims—he didn’t—but because he made the apparently impolitic admission that he becomes “nervous” and “worried” when he sees people in “Muslim garb” on airplanes. That’s it. He experienced an emotion and talked about it on television. And he’s not the only American who gets a little bit jittery in such situations in a country where Islamic terrorists killed 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, 2001 by flying commercial jetliners into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. Williams and others experiencing the same anxieties aren’t bad people. They’re not bigots. They can’t control their emotional reactions to stimuli. They’re just normal, rational human beings.
But in the world of political correctness, that’s no excuse. Williams was cashiered because his comments were perceived by the cloistered mandarins of public radio as “Islamophobic.” NPR believed Williams thought bad thoughts; he should have felt ashamed of his authentic psychological reflexes, and he definitely should not have admitted these thought crimes on a top-rated TV show.
To the Left, whether the fear of which Williams spoke was well-founded or reasonable is irrelevant. The political correctness that has metastasized in American culture requires that no one speak ill of Islam or say anything that might stigmatize or other-ize a Muslim in any way. All Americans must think and say only nice things about Islam. To object to this kind of politically correct censorship is not to make the gross generalization that Muslims are bad people, but it is to say that people have the right to criticize such things as the subjugation of conquered peoples by the Caliphate in the eighth century. After all, people freely criticize Western countries for, say, their treatment of their eighteenth-century colonies; so surely the twenty-first-century bombers of Paris, and their religious ideology, shouldn’t be above criticism.
But the politically correct do not accept this toleration of honest disagreements. They are determined to stamp out criticism, and they have an army of nonprofit organizations, foundations, academics, media outlets, and name-calling activists to help them.
And it is axiomatic that those who scream loudest about Islamophobia tend to have the most to hide.
This is not just some abstract academic discussion. Working through the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (or OIC, which until 2011 was called the Organisation of the Islamic Conference), Islamic states have been trying for years to convince the United Nations to criminalize this thought crime they call Islamophobia. And the Obama administration hasn’t exactly been burning up the long-distance telephone lines trying to change the minds of the OIC member-states.
During a visit to the White House last month by French President François Hollande, President Obama used the opportunity to scold Americans for not wanting to accept so-called refugees from the Syrian civil war, many of whom are suspected –despite fleeing Islamic State– of being sympathetic to Islamism. Obama didn’t use the word Islamophobia but he lectured Americans to try to shame them into accepting migrants who don’t embrace American values:
I say all this because another part of being vigilant, another part of defeating terrorists like [Islamic State], is upholding the rights and freedoms that define our two great republics. That includes freedom of religion. That includes equality before the law. There have been times in our history, in moments of fear, when we have failed to uphold our highest ideals, and it has been to our lasting regret. We must uphold our ideals now. Each of us, all of us, must show that America is strengthened by people of every faith and every background.
Related to this, I want to note that under President Hollande, France plans to welcome 30,000 additional Syrian refugees over the next two years. Here in the United States, refugees coming to America go through up to two years of intense security checks, including biometric screening. Nobody who sets foot in America goes through more screening than refugees. And we’re prepared to share these tools with France and our European partners. As François has said, our humanitarian duty to help desperate refugees and our duty to our security — those duties go hand in hand.
On the Statue of Liberty, a gift from the people of France, there are words we know so well: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be [sic] free. That’s the spirit that makes us American. That’s the spirit that binds us to France. That’s the spirit we need today.
So if the prospect of allowing the Syrian migrants into the United States makes you a little uneasy, you’re an Islamophobe, according to President Obama.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, now the leading contender for the Democrats’ presidential nomination, agrees with Obama. “Islam itself is not our adversary,” Clinton, whose husband let Osama bin Laden escape assassination, said after the attacks in France. “Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.”
Foundations on the anti-Islamophobia bandwagon
Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, a former member of the shadowy Herndon, Va.-based International Institute for Islamic Thought, now rejects the idea of Islamophobia. “This loathsome term is nothing more than a thought-terminating cliché conceived in the bowels of Muslim think tanks for the purpose of beating down critics.”
Yet the left-wing philanthropic establishment maintains that Islamophobia is an evil related to discrimination and xenophobia. According to George Soros’s Open Society Foundations (OSF; formerly the Open Society Institute), Islamophobia is a term that should be righteously wielded “alongside structural discrimination affecting Muslims, in order to counter the discriminatory effects of an ideology of cultural superiority similar to racism in which attitudes, behaviors, and policies reject, exclude, vilify, or deny equal treatment to Muslims. Such discrimination is based on real or perceived Muslim background; or racial, ethnic and national origins which are associated with this background.”
OSF gives grants aimed at countering Islamophobia and sponsors panel discussions such as “The Cultural War on Terror: Race, Policy, and Propaganda,” which took place last year in New York City and was moderated by left-wing journalist Peter Beinart.
Right after Sept. 11, 2001 the extreme-left, Soros-funded Tides Foundation created a “9/11 Fund” to advocate a “peaceful national response” to the Islamic terrorist attacks. Tides later received an OSF grant and renamed the fund the Democratic Justice Fund. Tides founder Drummond Pike, who played a major role in covering up a million-dollar embezzlement at the former Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), sat on the board of the Environmental Working Group alongside Fenton Communications founder David Fenton. Fenton’s leftist public relations firm created “an ad campaign for the liberal media group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting that falsely depicted” broadcaster Bill O’Reilly “as a bigot, liar and ‘Islamophobe’” (“The Great Smear Machine,” by Rowan Scarborough, Human Events, April 10, 2009).
The 2008 PR campaign promoted by FAIR was called, “Smearcasting: How Islamophobes Spread Bigotry, Fear and Misinformation.” The list included what FAIR described as “some of the media’s leading teachers of anti-Muslim bigotry, serving various roles in the Islamophobic movement.” Apart from O’Reilly, those targeted were authors Michelle Malkin, Mark Steyn, David Horowitz, and Robert Spencer; broadcasters Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Michael Savage; Investigative Project on Terrorism founder Steven Emerson; and Christian evangelist Pat Robertson.
The Chicago-based Joyce Foundation funds Muslim outreach campaigns. A 2012 program was called “Uniting Christianity, Islam, and Judaism Through Dance.” Barack Obama sat on the foundation’s board from 1994 to 2002. (For more on Joyce, see Foundation Watch, February 2014)
Foundation grants find their way to nonprofits that aim to silence critics of Islam by painting them as bigoted and ignorant, unaware of the “real” peaceful religion founded by Muhammad. Major foundation-funded nonprofit sources of anti-Islamophobia propaganda in the United States include:
Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law (BCJ)
(profiled in Organization Trends, April 2014)
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
(profiled in Organization Trends, August 2005)
Center for American Progress (CAP)
(profiled in Organization Trends, February 2011)
Institute for Policy Studies (IPS)
(profiled in Foundation Watch, February 2011)
Media Matters for America (MMfA)
(profiled in Organization Trends, December 2014)
Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
(profiled in Organization Trends, October 2012)
Among the foundations funding those six groups are:
Annie E. Casey Foundation (funds BCJ, CAP, IPS, SPLC)
(profiled in Foundation Watch, June 2012)
Arca Foundation (BCJ, IPS, MMfA)
(profiled in Foundation Watch, October 2011)
Bauman Family Foundation (BCJ, MMfA)
(profiled in Foundation Watch, December 2014)
Bohemian Foundation (BCJ, MMfA)
Carnegie Corp. of New York (CAP, MMfA)
(profiled in Foundation Watch, April 2013)
Nathan Cummings Foundation (CAP, IPS)
(profiled in Foundation Watch, December 2013)
Ford Foundation (CAP, IPS, MMfA)
(profiled in Foundation Watch, July 2013)
George Soros’s Foundation to Promote Open Society (CAP, IPS, MMfA)
Gill Foundation (CAP, MMfA, SPLC)
Glaser Progress Foundation (CAP, MMfA)
(profiled in Foundation Watch, March 2014)
Joyce Foundation (BCJ, CAP, MMfA)
(profiled in Foundation Watch, February 2014)
John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (CAP, IPS)
(profiled in Organization Trends, May 2013)
Marisla Foundation (CAP, MMfA)
Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (BCJ, CAP, IPS)
(profiled in Foundation Watch, March 2012)
New York Community Trust (CAP, IPS, MMfA, SPLC)
Soros’s Open Society Institute (CAP, IPS)
Public Welfare Foundation (BCJ, IPS, SPLC)
Rockefeller Family Fund Inc. (BCJ, CAP)
Rockefeller Foundation (CAP, IPS)
(profiled in Foundation Watch, December 2012)
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (CAIR, SPLC)
(profiled in Foundation Watch, December 2012)
Sandler Foundation (CAP, MMfA)
Schumann Center for Media and Democracy (BCJ, IPS, MMfA)
Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation (BCJ, CAP, MMfA) (profiled in Foundation Watch, July 2014)
Silicon Valley Community Foundation (CAIR, CAP, MMfA, SPLC)
Surdna Foundation (BCJ, IPS)
(profiled in Foundation Watch, January 2014)
Tides Foundation (BCJ, CAIR, IPS, MMfA, SPLC)
(profiled in Foundation Watch, July 2011)
Wallace Global Fund II (BCJ, CAP, IPS, MMfA)
The John Podesta-founded Center for American Progress (CAP) has devoted significant resources to combating the phantom it calls Islamophobia. CAP is working hard to convince Americans that this make-believe mental illness is a threat to American democracy and pluralism. CAP claims a $57 million network “is fueling Islamophobia in the United States.”
Among other projects, CAP created a sophisticated, flashy website (IslamophobiaNetwork.com) that identifies leading alleged Islamophobes like activist and author Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Of Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born ex-Muslim, the website notes that she calls Islam “a destructive, nihilistic cult of death” and says we will lose the fight against terrorism “unless we realize that it’s not just with extremist elements within Islam, but the ideology of Islam itself.” (She has also said Islam “is not a religion of peace. It’s a political theory of conquest that seeks domination by any means it can.”)
Although CAP is critical of Hirsi Ali, others have seen her as heroic and courageous, in the face of death threats for her criticisms of female genital mutilation and other barbaric practices. Named one of the 100 most influential persons by Time in 2005, Hirsi Ali has been a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., and at Harvard’s Kennedy School.
The fake, Soros-funded media watchdog Media Matters for America, relentlessly attacks anyone who questions the nature or impact of Islam. Along with many left-wing journalists, the group exploited the brief detention in September of Sudanese-American Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old Muslim schoolboy in Irving, Texas, who brought a homemade clock that looked suspiciously like a bomb to his high school. Mohamed, whose family has close ties to CAIR, used his newly found celebrity to bash America, saying “If I was a Caucasian male, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have gotten arrested.” In a Sept. 18 post, Media Matters complained that “right-wing media” are “accusing President Obama and others of capitalizing on the student’s story to push false concerns about Islamophobia.”
In addition to churning out propaganda aimed at convincing Americans that voter fraud is a figment of Republicans’ imagination, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University is trying to convince Americans to embrace Islam and not worry about terrorism. On Oct. 30, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., the Brennan Center co-sponsored a conference on “Countering Violent Extremism” with the libertarian group Campaign for Liberty. There I heard scholars and activists express dismay at the Obama administration’s mild efforts to combat what it calls “violent extremism.”
Dr. Arun Kundnani, a London-born Open Society fellow who teaches at NYU, complained about the strictures that government research grants place on academic freedom. The virulently anti-American leftist and apologist for Islamic terrorism also said all government efforts to combat terrorism constitute attacks on Muslims. “The bulk of the funding has been to fund people who are saying things that the government wants to hear, saying things that will be serviceable to a pre-existing law enforcement agenda which is about essentially criminalizing a community.”
In a particularly dishonest op-ed at the website of Al Jazeera, an Islamist propaganda outlet controlled by Qatar, Kundnani smeared American conservatives, claiming that they “view an imminent Islamic takeover as a real danger.” He wrote “Islamophobic ideology needs a conspiracy theory that says the US is, despite appearances, secretly run by Muslims. Muslims can then be portrayed as a hidden force preventing American renewal. The message is a convenient one for the US ruling elite: don’t blame the people who actually run the US, just smell the sharia.”
Americans are largely skeptical of Islam and Muslims, and for good reason, but the belief that the United States is “secretly run by Muslims” is not widely accepted among Americans, even those suspicious of Islam. No one is scapegoating Muslims for “preventing American renewal.”
Kundnani invents his own Marxist-sounding conspiracy theory to explain American Islamophobia. Today’s “widespread anti-Muslim fears among the public provide a justifying pretext for a global US empire that did not exist in the 1920s. Islamophobia is not just an irrational fear, but a belief system that is useful to sections of power. Opposing anti-Muslim conspiracy theories and all of their accompanying rhetoric are [sic] not just about defending the civil rights of Muslims in the US. It is also about removing one of the ideological supports of US imperialism.” (“The belief system of the Islamophobes,” by Arun Kundnani, Al Jazeera website, Oct. 9, 2015)
On his personal website, Kundnani bashes Americans for their views on Islam. “Since the 1970s, Muslims have repeatedly been stereotyped in the US as dangerous terrorists. But, over the last six years, a new fear of Muslims has gradually entered the conservative mainstream: that Muslims are taking over the United States and imposing ‘sharia law.’” These fears “are paranoid and lack any basis in reality,” he adds.
Kundnani also thinks Americans need to lighten up and stop worrying about whether Muslims really mean what they say. “I think we need to abandon the language of radicalization and extremism and focus much more narrowly on the question of acts of violence specifically,” he said at the panel discussion. “In this country we nowadays have a situation where what would be called dissent, when expressed by a Muslim, gets called extremism.”
Shannon Erwin, a 2010 Harvard Law School graduate and co-founder of the Muslim Justice League, complained that Muslims have no free speech rights in America:
There is, apparently, a Muslim exception to the First Amendment. And I think that many parents have felt terrified to let their teenagers go on social media not because they believe that their teenagers are necessarily going to do anything wrong but because of the scrutiny they may be subjected [to]. There’s a belief that the Constitution, yes, in theory, applies to us, but in practice we see that it’s not offering our youth protection.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamophobia, and terrorism
Meanwhile, the terrorist-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) regularly updates its list of “Islamophobic Organizations.” (CAIR was profiled by Daniel Pipes in Organization Trends, August 2005). By Islamophobic, CAIR apparently means, “willing to take an honest look at Islam.” Here
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