Posts Tagged ‘Right Wing Culture Wars’


It’s time to fight religion: Toxic drivel, useful media idiots, and the real story about faith and violence

Out of misguided notions of “tolerance,” we avert our critical gaze from blatant absurdities. We must now get real

It's time to fight religion: Toxic drivel, useful media idiots, and the real story about faith and violence
Richard Dawkins, Mike Huckabee, Bill Maher, Reza Aslan (Credit: Reuters/Chris Keane/AP/J. Scott Applewhite/HBO)

The relentless march of time generally affords humankind, which happens to include folks in the media, the chance to reflect on events and acquire wisdom. But the weeks passing since the massacre in Paris of the highly talented Charlie Hebdo cartoonists for their depictions of the Prophet Muhammad have only granted a good number of commentators the opportunity to bedork themselves time and again, as they pen columns and make on-air statements that both spread confusion and betray commitments to untenable, morally reprehensible extenuative positions concerning Islam. This is tragic, for, if anything, the slaughter of European artists exercising their lawful right to self-expression in the capital of their own country offered us all a “teachable moment” sans pareil about the nature of the threat lurking within – in fact, innate to — the “religion of peace.”

Rarely have murderers so clearly manifested their motive. With the exclamations they made as they carried out their atrocity — “Allahu Akbar!” and On a vengé le prophète Mohamed, on a tué Charlie Hebdo!” (The prophet Muhammad has been avenged, we have killed Charlie Hebdo!) — the attackers explicitly told us they were killing for Islam, and imparted precisely the lesson they intended: Do not insult or ridicule our faith or you will pay the supreme price. They wrought violence against innocents who dared transgress the commandments of a religion they did not profess. What’s more, they de facto succeeded in imposing sharia tenets well beyond the confines of the Islamic world. How many major publications or networks dared even publish the anodyne drawing of a teary-eyed, forgiving Muhammad that graced the cover of the post-massacre issue of Charlie Hebdo, to say nothing of the other images satirizing the Prophet that presumably led to the fire-bombing of the magazine’s office in 2011? That so many Western media outlets shied away from doing so is more than scandalous. It unambiguously signals one thing: terrorism works. More lives are likely to be lost as a result.

Those whose profession it ostensibly is to enlighten found ample grounds on which to rebut reality and muddy the waters around the matter at hand: the faith-motivated murder of cartoonists for doing nothing more than drawing cartoons. Serial Islam-apologist Reza Aslan appeared on Charlie Rose‘s show and admitted that the Quran has “of course” served as a “source of violence” for terrorists, but then resorted to his usual tiresome Derrida-esque double-talk when it came to discussing his religion’s material role in the killings. “We bring our own values and norms to our scriptures; we don’t extract them from our scriptures.”

The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof, an unwitting recidivist “useful idiot” for Islamism, cautioned us to avoid “religious profiling” and contended that “The great divide is not between faiths. Rather it is between terrorists and moderates, between those who are tolerant and those who ‘otherize.’” He is apparently unaware of Islamic traditions dividing the world into Dar al-Islam (the Abode of Islam, or Muslim regions) and Dar al-Harb (the Abode of War, where Muslims must strive against, and even do battle with, infidels, in order to convert them. For Kristof, a “strain of Islamic intolerance and extremism” is the (mere) “backdrop to the attack on Charlie Hebdo.”

Susan Milligan, writing in U.S. News and World Report, opined that news outlets should feel no pressure to publish the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, since “This isn’t about religion or respect, and it insults every peace-loving practicing Muslim to suggest otherwise.” Wow. Has she converted to Islam? What gives her the right to speak for “every peace-loving practicing Muslim?”

There are other examples, but foulest of all were the excretions emanating from James Zogby, president and founder of the Arab American Institute. I’ll cite in full the opening paragraph of his Huffington Post op-ed:

“The perpetrators of the horror at Charlie Hebdo were not devout Muslims outraged by insults directed at their faith. They were not motivated by religious piety, nor did they seek to strike a blow at ‘freedom of expression.’ Rather they were crude political actors who planned an act of terror — seeking to create the greatest possible impact. They were murderers, plain and simple.”

Every sentence here, with the partial exception of the last, is so transparently counterfactual that no refutation is warranted. But it gets worse. Zogby goes on to spew toxic drivel he will never live down, informing readers that he believes in “freedom of expression, but” — the “but” here portends the most insidious kind of “blame the victims” slander — “with freedom also comes responsibility. Pope Francis got it right when he noted ‘You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others’. . . . As Francis added ‘one cannot offend, make war, kill in the name of one’s religion — that is in the name of God. To kill in the name of God is an aberration.’”

(Except that in Islam, a faith long spread by the sword, it isn’t. Dozens of Quranic suras and texts from the Hadith call upon Muslims to commit violence against unbelievers in the cause of jihad, including, of course, those who insult the Prophet Muhammad.)

Zogby continued, complaining of the “prejudice against the religion of Islam” evinced by some commentators, and bemoaning the “hurt . . . Muslims have felt at the insults directed at the faith by the dominant secular French culture.”  He concluded with boilerplate gibberish, declaring that those who kill for religion “are not Muslim or Christian or Jewish or Hindu or Buddhist murderers or terrorists. Rather they are murderers or terrorists who defile the language of religion in a vain effort to justify their violence.”

Zogby’s is by far the most disgraceful, twisted, retrograde commentary on the Charlie Hebdo tragedy I have come across. Yet in adducing Pope Francis’ admonition to those who would insult faith, he unintentionally makes a point: Representatives of the world’s major religions usually stand together in calling for respect for their institutionalized fables, and they still, even now, usually get it. After all, respect, at least of a sort, is just what theocrats of old exacted, on pain of torture and death, when they ruled during the brutal millennium before the Renaissance that was once (and justly) known as the Dark Ages.

We are accustomed to reflexively deferring to “men of the cloth,” be they rabbis and priests or pastors and imams. In this we err, and err gravely. Those whose profession it is to spread misogynistic morals, debilitating sexual guilt, a hocus-pocus cosmogony, and tales of an enticing afterlife for which far too many are willing to die or kill, deserve the exact same “respect” we accord to shamans and sorcerers, alchemists and quacksalvers. Out of misguided notions of “tolerance,” we avert our critical gaze from the blatant absurdities — parting seas, spontaneously igniting shrubbery, foodstuffs raining from the sky, virgin parturitions, garrulous slithering reptiles, airborne ungulates — proliferating throughout their “holy books.” We suffer, in the age of space travel, quantum theory and DNA decoding, the ridiculous superstitious notion of “holy books.” And we countenance the nonsense term “Islamophobia,” banishing those who forthrightly voice their disagreements with the seventh-century faith to the land of bigots and racists; indeed, the portmanteau vogue word’s second component connotes something just short of mental illness.

The herd inclination of progressives to exculpate the canon of Islam and the role faith in general plays in inciting violence insults those with even a superficial knowledge of history. There is nothing commendable about covering up how religious convictions motivate killers, be they Christians (think of the Serbian Orthodox “cleansing” of Muslims in the Yugoslav war), Jews (recall Baruch Goldstein’s 1994 murder of 29 Palestinians at a Hebron holy site), Hindus (memorably, the Gujarat massacre in 2002 and, of course, the epochal Hindu-Muslim bloodshed accompanying Partition). Religion in each of these barbaric episodes (and many, many more) was the universally recognized primum mobile. Why should we not admit the same about the Charlie Hebdo slaughter?

Worse still is the offense that denying faith’s role in atrocities inflicts on commonsense. No one doubts people when they say their religion inspires them to attend mosque or church, make charitable donations, volunteer in hospitals or serve in orphanages. We should take them at their word when they name it, as did the Charlie Hebdo assassins, as  the mainspring for their lethal acts of violence. We should not toss aside Ockham’s razor and concoct additional factors that supposedly commandeered their behavior. The Charlie Hebdo killers may have come from poor Parisian banlieues, they may have experienced racial discrimination, and they may have even been stung by disdain from “the dominant secular French culture,” yet they murdered not shouting about any of these things, but about “avenging the Prophet Muhammad.” They murdered for Islam.

No doubt, some commentators contort themselves to avoid blaming Islam because they personally know Muslims who would do no harm to anyone. But as regards the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Islam’s innocuous votaries are irrelevant. The problem lies with the incontrovertible calls to violence in the Islamic canon that derive from a sense of supremacy as God’s final, irrevocable words to humanity, and with those who take them literally.

This all leads us to an overarching issue of critical import. Adherence to any of the Abrahamic religions — that is, to the trumped-up doctrines of systematized, unverifiable fables mandating certain kinds of behavior and outlawing others — is, to repeat Kristof’s silly term, “otherizing,” or divisive, provocative, and ultimately inimical to social harmony. Traffickers in such fables, or those who provide cover to those who do, deserve to be disinvited from every forum convened to seek solutions to the problems they themselves have helped create. Or perhaps they should be invited, but only as court experts in the particular variety of mass psychosis they and their ancestors have engendered.  “Dialogue between religions” — a perennially popular yet doomed endeavor often proclaimed as necessary by religious potentates — should be eschewed in favor of rational discourse among reality-based individuals. Please, let’s give the shamans and witchdoctors the day off.

What to make of Western leaders’ reluctance to indict Islam in the Charlie Hebdo massacre? Cowardice must be involved — better to deride a few bad apples “perverting a great religion” than risk angering large, and growing, Muslim communities at home, or inciting attacks against embassies abroad. And as a practical matter, convictions held as passionately as they are irrationally cannot be challenged without peril. That Obama and Hollande have gone to great lengths to avoid implicating Islam in the Charlie Hebdo massacre constitutes implicit recognition of the innate insolubility of religious conflicts – such beliefs cannot be disproven on an evidentiary basis, but only fought over, eye for eye. Once faith stands accused, the guns come out and the bombs go off, and death and mayhem ensue. Best to steer clear of all this.

Yet risks, to say nothing of honest discourse, are essential to true leadership. Faced with this, yet another crisis involving Islam and the violence it tends to beget, the only real options are unified defiance (as embodied in the Je Suis Charlie marches across France) or surrender, as exemplified in news outlets’ widespread reluctance to publish the eminently newsworthy Charlie Hebdo cartoons. By accepting the bald casuistry and specious analysis offered by religion’s apologists, or by denigrating, à la Zogby, the (wonderfully) muscular French version of secularism known as laïcité (no Islamic headscarves or Christian crosses allowed inside schools, no burqas to be worn outside), we are collectively opting for capitulation, and jettisoning our precious patrimony — freedom of expression, an essential element of any open society. If we do this, we should be ashamed of ourselves and do not deserve to be free.

We need to turn the tables and refuse to let the faith-based or their smooth-talking accomplices set the terms for debate; refuse to cower before the balderdash term Islamophobia; refuse to let faith-mongering fraudsters, from the Pope in the Vatican to the pastor down the street, educate our children or lecture us on morals or anything else. If we do not believe the Bible is true or the Quran inerrant, we need to say so, loudly, clearly and repeatedly, until the “sacred” sheen of these books wears off. And it will. Behaviors change as beliefs are adjusted. We no longer burn witches at the stake or use ghastly vises to crush the skulls of those suspected of being “secret Jews” (as was done in Spain and elsewhere during the Inquisition), and none but the insane among us would enact the gruesome penalties prescribed in Leviticus as retribution for trifling offenses. We have progressed, and we will progress again, if we, for starters, quit worrying about political correctness and cease according religion knee-jerk respect.

Some time ago, the meme “Islam – the religion of peace” began circulating, originating, apparently, in an erroneous translation of the Arabic name for the faith. Islam means “submission” (to the will of God). The brave cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo faced down threats and refused to submit — and paid with their lives. For their deaths to mean anything, we need to show similar guts.

We need, after all, to tell the truth. If we don’t start doing this now, our next question must be, who among us will be the next victims?

Jeffrey Tayler is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. His seventh book, “Topless Jihadis — Inside Femen, the World’s Most Provocative Activist Group,” is out now as an Atlantic ebook. Follow @JeffreyTayler1 on Twitter.


What Now, Teabaggers? President Obama Descended From 14 Revolutionary War Veterans — Which Makes Him More American than …Pretty Much Anyone
Welcome to our latest meme article, on a meme that’s been circulating — we’d imagine about as sweetly as a cheap bottle of sour apple vodka — around conservative websites. Hilariously, the one unifying factor on pages that do dare post it seem a bit devoid of comments compared to most others. Imagine a fart in a room of Southern Ladies disguised by the sound of crickets chirping. Kind of like that. And for pretty good reason: Because it’s wrong.

For those who haven’t heard, that evil ferriner Kenyan Muslim has some pretty impressive credentials when it comes to lineage in United States history. As we all know, Obama’s father was a dark-skinned voodoo demon who performed a Muslim terrorist ritual in chicken blood to please his communist union masters. Also, Saul Alinsky. But his mother Ann Dunham was a down-home Kansas girl, a sixth cousin to Wild Bill Hickok.

Atop her Wild West blood though, Ann was predominantly English by ancestry. And that English portion of her family has been here for a long time — colonial times, as it turns out. Not just any colonials, either.

While the spirit of the meme above is correct, the number is wrong. As it turns out, The Islamist Kenyan directly descends from no less than 14 PEOPLE who fought (on our side) in the Revolutionary War. Or, if not fought directly, then at least provided vital services like Moses Teague (1718-1977), who supplied the American Army in North Carolina. Which might technically make him one of our nation’s first defense contractors. Obama is related to him through his son-in-law James Wellborn, a private in the American army. you can read about the rest here.

He’s also, ironically, related to two English kings, one of which being Edward I. Edward’s known largely for launching the Eighth and Ninth Crusades; Obama is his 22nd cousin. And so, bizarrely enough, is another political figure — none other than Obama’s first opponent, John McCain, who is also a 22nd cousin of Edward’s. We know. Weird.

So, 14 people who fought in the Revolutionary War, and a king who launched two Crusades to recapture the Holy Land; by your normal Republican standards, this guy should have been elected Jesus Christ by now.  Even Sarah Palin, who herself is related to 25 people who fought in the Revolutionary War, can’t claim a king who launched a freaking Crusade. Against Mooslems, no less.

But aside from also maybe having some technical claim to the throne of England, Obama is more locally (as the meme says) entitled to claim entry into the Sons of the American Revolution. Not to be confused with the Sons of Confederate Veterans (annual cross burning scheduled for April 15th), the SAR is a proud institution with a long history and about 30,000 members at present.

Indeed, when Washington bequeathed this land to the progeny of his people, there’s no doubt he was speaking pretty explicitly of Barack Obama. That also includes the sons and daughters of America’s slaves, many of whom were drafted into fighting for America during the Revolution. The children of those who fought for this country (black and white) are in no uncertain terms the direct inheritors of Washington’s legacy.

But you know who might not be?

Technically speaking, anybody whose entire families got here after the war was over. Which, if you’re counting, includes the vast majority of people in this country. Well, white people, anyway. Going by that standard, here’s a short list of people who are less American than Barack Obama; or, at least, those whose families weren’t here to fight in the Revolutionary War:

  • Ted Cruz — Cuban and Canadian
  • The Koch Brothers — Parents were Dutch Immigrants
  • Glen Beck — Grandson of 19th century German Immigrants
  • Marco Rubio — Cuban parents
  • Sean Hannity — Grandson of 20th century Irish immigrants
  • Bill O’Reilly — Grandson of 19th century Irish immigrants
  • John Boehner — Grandson of 20th century German and Irish immigrants
  • Mitch McConnell — Son of Irish Immigrants

And, of course, the Head Birther himself, the one, the only…

  • “The” Donald Trump — Grandson of 19th century German and Scottish immigrants

Of all of these people, not a one had family in the United States before 1850 — let alone were descended from 14 different people who fought in the Revolutionary War. And that’s not counting the family of 15th century slave John Punch, to whom Obama is also related through Ann Dunham. In sum total, it’s probably fair to say that Obama’s family roots in the United States may run deeper than almost any president in history, aside from the ones who actually fought in the Revolution. Barry Hussein Soetoro, then, could pretty easily out-American most of his critics, including the Koch Brothers, Sean Hannity and Donald Trump.

But, he’s black. So, you know…none of that counts. Everyone knows white people who got here in 1930 are “more American” than dark people who have been here since 1650.

Still though, Barack can be out-Americaned by a few people. Including Sarah Palin, and yours truly, whose direct lineage includes two people who signed the Declaration of Independence, John Adams and George Washington himself. Then again, nobody in my family ever launched a Crusade.

Out-Christian THAT, Sarah!


Anti-Muslim Bigot Robert Spencer Comes to the Defense of Genocidal Site “BareNakedIslam”

Anders Breivik's choice for the "Noble Peace Prize," Robert Spencer

Anders Breivik’s choice for the “Noble Peace Prize,” Robert Spencer

Via:- Anti-Muslim Bigot Robert Spencer Comes to the Defense of Genocidal Site “BareNakedIslam”

Extremist far right anti-Muslim, MEK-Terror linked, Terrorist Inspirer, and conservative Catholic apologist Robert Spencer‘s bigotry and hatred for Islam and Muslims is evident to most rational individuals. Just take a brief glance at our copious documentation of his words, statements and activities if you are unsure of what we mean. You can also see what others have said about Spencer.

Spencer is so stuck in his goofy 11th century Crusader mentality that he is once again defending open calls to genocide. I guess he didn’t learn anything from the Anders Breivik fiasco, you know, the “insane” terrorist who thought Robert Spencer deserved the “Noble Peace Prize.”

This time Spencer is going to bat for the loony-even-by-Geller-standards, BareNakedIslam website, which was briefly shut down by WordPress for violating its terms and conditions.

A few days ago Sheila Musaji of The American Muslim reported on the unanimous cacophony of sadistic joy displayed by the owners and commenters on BareNakedIslam regarding the repeated arson attacks on mosques in France.

An anti-Muslim site called Bare Naked Islam has posted an article celebrating this. The article is titled “WOO HOO! Yet ANOTHER anti-Muslim attack on a French mosque”.  Just in case they take it down, CAIR has saved the page here.  The headline of the article states Apparently, Hell hath no fury like a Frenchman scorned. It’s the third attack on a mosque just this month. Will the Muslims ever get a clue that they are not welcome in France?

Most of the comments below the Bare Naked Islam article are hateful.  Some examples:

1
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Musaji notes:

This last comment by Keith Mahone is the most extreme, and a particular concern since he says in his long rambling rant that he regularly drives past a mosque in Falls Church, Virginia, and that the sight of that mosque causes him distress.

I waded through a few articles on the site and the comments, and found that this sort of rabid hatred of Muslims and encouragement of not only limiting the civil rights of American Muslims, and encouragement of not only limiting the civil rights of American Muslims, but also actually murdering them is common.

Read Sheila Musaji’s complete piece, it details even more examples of the rabid and visceral genocide calling on BareNakedIslam.

Spencer has linked to BareNakedIslam for years now and they seem to have a mutual admiration for one another. Spencer does not take issue with BNI’s anti-Muslim genocidal rants nor does he condemn them, rather he resorts to conspiracy theory and forwards the argument that BNI is a victim of “Islamic supremacist” warfare.

Instead of apologizing for associating with BNI he rushes full hog into their corner, lauding them as an “anti-Jihad website.” He gives the meager caveat that “he doesn’t agree with everything they write,” and that “he doesn’t condone threats” but then he goes onto deflect, saying they were just a few “unhinged comments.”

No, Spencer, they aren’t a few comments they are just an example of the consistent violent anti-Muslim rhetoric pervasive in the Islamophobesphere, including your own blog (one example out of many):

Spencer also oddly attempts to deflect by posting screen shots of comments by commenters “Mosizzle” and “RefutingActs” on Spencerwatch which he interpreted as a threat, but which even some of his own followers considered a ludicrous stretch. It is really a pathetic attempt at “deflection” when anyone with half a brain knows that what is written on a daily basis on JihadWatch and BareNakedIslam cannot compare to our meticulous care in deleting hateful or bigoted remarks and even allowing some Islamophobes such as “halal pork” to post.

At the end of the day, Spencer is so far down the rabbit hole he probably doesn’t understand what he is doing. At this point he’s hoping for a Hail Mary that may somehow redeem his hateful and bloody fantasies of a world without Muslims.


The Religious Right habitually camouflages it’s nefarious Christian Nationalist Worldview behind a phoney “pro-Israel” facade.

Religious fanatic John Hagee believes god sent Hitler to exterminate Jews and thus, as act and prophetic directive of his god, obviously a righteous and just genocide.

Like Catholic Hitler, John Hagee believes that unless Jews are converted to his Christ, they will be eradicated in the fires of hell that is, their final annihilation.

One has to wonder how even certain Right Wing Jews can be so utterly blind and continue support a religious buffoon who considers the destruction of Jews an inexorable, righteous and prophetic dictate — of his
psychopathic god?!


Clergy Should Be Wary Of Religious Right Attempts To Politicize Churches, Says Americans United
   September 28, 2011

‘Pulpit Freedom Sunday’ Is Stunt To Lure Churches Into Illegal Electioneering, Watchdog Group Says

Americans United for Separation of Church and State today called on the nation’s clergy to reject Religious Right attempts to turn houses of worship into centers for partisan politicking.

This Sunday (Oct. 2) the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) is sponsoring “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” an event in which evangelical pastors are urged to break the law by endorsing or opposing candidates as they conduct religious services.

“This is an appalling attempt by the Religious Right to turn houses of worship into houses of partisan politics,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Americans attend church for spiritual guidance, not to get a list of candidates to vote for on Election Day.

“I know the Religious Right would like to forge fundamentalist churches into a partisan political machine,” Lynn continued, “but the law doesn’t allow it, and the American people don’t want it.”

The ADF, a legal group founded by TV preachers, insists that pastors should have the right to endorse candidates from the pulpit. But Americans United points out that all non-profit groups in the 501(c)(3) category — whether religious or secular — are barred under federal tax law from using non-profit personnel or resources to intervene in elections.

AU’s Lynn noted that the American people do not support church electioneering. A recent study found that 73 percent of Americans agree that religious leaders should not intervene in elections.

Americans United sponsors Project Fair Play, a project that educates clergy and congregants about the requirements of federal tax law. Through Project Fair Play (www.projectfairplay.org), Americans United makes a variety of educational materials available that explain what houses of worship can and can’t do in the political arena.

In cases of flagrant violations of the law, Americans United reports offending religious institutions to the IRS.

“Church electioneering is illegal, and the people don’t support it,” Lynn remarked. “It’s time for the Religious Right to stop trying to drag churches into backroom politics.”

The Internal Revenue Service is charged with enforcing this tax law provision. Religious groups that have been either sanctioned or investigated include:

Christian Broadcasting Network, Virginia Beach, Va.: TV preacher Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network was stripped of its tax-exempt status retroactively for the years 1986 and 1987 for supporting Robertson’s presidential bid. CBN was required to make a “significant payment” to the IRS, pledge to avoid partisan campaign activities in the future, place more outside directors on its board and implement other organizational and operational changes to ensure tax law compliance.

Old Time Gospel Hour, Lynchburg, Va.: The late Jerry Falwell’s TV ministry lost its tax-exempt status retroactively for the years 1986 and 1987 after a four-year IRS audit determined that the ministry had diverted money to a political action committee. The ministry agreed to pay the IRS $50,000 for those years and to change its organizational structure so that no future political campaign intervention activities would occur.

Church at Pierce Creek, Binghamton, N.Y.: This church lost its tax-exempt status after running newspaper ads in 1992 urging people not to vote for Bill Clinton. Assisted by attorneys with TV preacher Pat Robertson’s American Center for Law and Justice, the church sued to get its exemption back but lost in federal court.

Second Baptist Church, Houston, Texas: This prominent Texas church endured a three-year IRS audit after the church was reported to the federal tax agency for alleged involvement with a special project in 1996 designed to encourage members to attend a GOP precinct convention with the aim of electing certain individuals to local committees.

Allen African Methodist Episcopal Church, New York, N.Y.: This church was visited by IRS agents and its pastor, the Rev. Floyd Flake, was asked to sign documents stating that he would not intervene in election campaigns after he endorsed presidential candidate Al Gore from the pulpit in 2000.

Bill Keller Ministries/Live Prayer, St. Petersburg, Fla.: The founder of this ministry was contacted by the IRS, which sent him a list of detailed questions to answer about his political activity, after he issued a “devotional” on the ministry’s website in 2007 asserting that voting for Mitt Romney is the same as voting for Satan.

In addition, in 2006 the IRS issued a report stating that it examined 132 non-profits during the 2004 election cycle. The tax agency noted that “fewer than half” of the entities examined were churches and concluded that in many of the cases, significant violations of the law had occurred. Written warnings were issued in 55 cases.

In 2008, the IRS took the step of sending letters to officials in the national political parties, reminding them that houses of worship and other tax-exempt entities cannot endorse candidates.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

Source:- http://www.au.org/media/press-releases/archives/2011/09/clergy-should-be-wary-of.html


10 Signs God Is Furious With the Right
Whatever disaster strikes, there’s always an upside in
religious rightland, always somebody to point the finger at with glee. Let’s
turn the tables.
September 16, 2011  |
Editor’s note: the following is satire… for the most part.

Why is it that whenever disaster strikes, right-wing religious nuts seem to
have all the fun? Some might say it’s just because they’re sadists, but they
always seem to find the silver lining. 9/11? God’s calling on America to repent!
(No, not for it’s foreign policy, you dummy!) Hurricane Katrina? It was that
darned homosexual parade the organizers forgot to tell anyone about!

Whatever disaster strikes, there’s always an up-side in religious rightland,
always somebody to point the finger at with glee. How come they get all the
fun?

So when the East Coast got a one-two punch last month, earthquake-hurricane
within a few days of one another, it got me thinking. When another hurricane
followed up afterward, it was more than I could bear. And so, I offer you a list
of God’s Top 10 Targets from a
not-so-right-but-possibly-more-righteous point of view.

There are at least three different ways to approach this subject, and we have
examples of all three. First is to identify specific target groups for repeated
offenses—sinners who just won’t mend their ways. Second is to identify
geographic targets for specific offenses—sin city or state, as the case may be.
Third is to identify specific individuals.

1. Republicans, for bearing false witness.

It’s not just one of the Ten Commandments — the Bible has repeated warnings
against slander, false testimony and plain old lying. But Republicans apparently
think that God was talking to somebody else—the exact opposite of their usual
assumption—especially since Barack Obama arrived on the scene. Obama was born in
Kenya, he is a Muslim, he’s a socialist, a Marxist, a fascist, he hates white
people (like his mom and his grandparents), he hangs out with terrorists. It
goes on and on and on.

God has repeatedly told them not to act like this—yet they pay Him no mind.
It’s not just Obama, either. When it comes to science, things get just as bad,
be it evolution, global warming, reproductive health, or gender orientation;
when the science isn’t on their side, the lying and slander take up the slack.
It’s not just that the science is against them, you see. Scientists are
fraudsters; they are always conspiring against God and his people, according to
some of the more whacked out types—like GOP senators, for example. God may have
a great deal of patience, but when folks start trying to drag Him into the mix,
that’s when the earthquakes and hurricanes begin.

2. The Religious Right, for ignoring Jesus on the separation of
church and state.

More than 1,600 years before John Locke and 1,700 years before Thomas
Jefferson weighed in on the subject, Jesus said, “Render therefore unto Caesar
that which is Caesar’s and unto God those things which are God’s.” (What’s more,
he said that, in part, as a way of opting out of a tax revolt!) But the
Religious Right defiantly continues to oppose Him. God’s been extremely patient
with them over the years, but that patience has finally run out, as the most
anti-separationist elements of the Religious Right—known as dominionists—have come increasingly to the fore.

Some might say they’re embarrassing Him personally. Others will say it’s starting to get
really dangerous. Whatever the reason, God’s had enough.

3. The nativist right and the GOP, for a rash of anti-immigrant
laws.

“Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in
the land of Egypt.” Exodus 22:21 could not be clearer—unless, of course, we
switched from the King James Bible to the New International Version: “Do not
mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.”

But for some in the GOP, them’s fightin’ words. All they can think about is
disobeying God. They are positively possessed with the Satanic spirit of
disobedience. It began with Arizona’s SB-1070 last year. And while a number of
states followed Arizona’s lead with anti-immigrant laws of their own, the most
notorious was Alabama, which faced “a
historic outbreak of severe weather” in April.

The same day the law was signed, Alabama’s Episcopal, Methodist and Roman
Catholic churches filed a separate lawsuit, claiming the law unconstitutionally
interferes with their right of religious freedom. Church leaders said the law
“will make it a crime to follow God’s command.” Among other things, the suit
said, “The bishops have reason to fear that administering of religious
sacraments, which are central to the Christian faith, to known undocumented
persons may be criminalized under this law.”  If criminalizing Christian
sacraments isn’t inviting divine retribution, what is?

4. The predatory lending industry and all who enable
them.

There are numerous Bible passages condemning usury. Typical of these is
Exodus 22:25: “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do
not be like a moneylender; charge him no interest.” Naturally, the whole of
modern capitalism is built on ignoring a broad reading of this. But predatory
lending is a particularly egregious form of defiance. It’s proved rather costly
to our country as well.

A Wall Street Journal article on December 31, 2007 reported that Ameriquest Mortgage
and Countrywide Financial, two of the largest U.S. mortgage lenders, spent $20.5
million and $8.7 million respectively in political donations, campaign
contributions, and lobbying activities between 2002 and 2006 in order to defeat
anti-predatory lending legislation. Such practices contributed significantly to
the financial crisis that plunged us into the Great Recession. But it seems that
wasn’t a clear enough lesson, especially since those who lobbied most intensely
benefited most from the bailouts as well, according to an IMF
study
. So earthquakes and hurricanes are an old school, Old Testament way
for God to make his point.

5. The GOP, for its contempt for the poor.

For more than half a century, the GOP has attacked Democrats and liberals for
their concern for the poor. At least since the 1980s, the neo-liberal wing of
the Democratic Party has tried to distance themselves from the poor, and
reposition the party as defenders of the middle class, instead. The GOP has
responded with policies to impoverish the middle class as well, so that they can
be safely demonized, too.

But the GOP’s venom for all but the wealthy has reached new heights during
the Great Recession. Not only should those who caused the crisis be taken care
of while all others suffer—far too many national Democratic politicians seem to
agree on that one—but a renewed rhetoric of contempt for the poor has emerged,
in direct contradiction to what Jesus said, in Luke 6:20: “Blessed are you who
are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”

Increasingly, it seems, Republicans don’t think poor people are even
human. In January 2010, South Carolina Lt. Governor Andre Baurer (R) compared poor people to stray animals: He told an audience
that his grandmother told him “as a small child to quit feeding stray animals.
You know why? Because they breed.” He compared this to government assistance,
which he said is “facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person
ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too
much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail
that type of behavior. They don’t know any better.” Then, in early August,
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, the frontrunner for the GOP senate
nomination, compared poor people to scavenging racoons. Talk like that is
what causes earthquakes and hurricanes.

6. Privatized public utilities, for the worship of
Mammon.

Public utilities are natural monopolies, totally unsuited to private
enterprise, since there is no competitive marketplace. This, of course, makes
them perfect targets for monopoly capitalists—Mammon’s greatest worshipers.

Against them, God struck a mighty blow. In Mansfield, Massachusetts, which
has had its own municipal power service since 1903, electrical service was
restored for most customers within 24 hours after Irene hit, even though 4,000
out of 9,500 households had lost power—quite unlike what happened to nearby
communities served by a commercial outfit. According to a local report, the storm “uprooted old trees and knocked down
utility lines all over town.”

“Unlike homes and businesses in Easton, Norton and Foxboro, however, local
customers did not have to wait for National Grid to respond with crews or listen
to a recording on the telephone…. [M]uch of Easton waited three days for power
to return and areas of communities such as Foxboro are still in the dark.”
According to another report, about Foxborough, “The outrage expressed… is
similar to the movie Network in the scene where people flung open their windows
and said, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.’”

Then there are a couple of geographically specific targets:

7. Virginia.

Virginia was the site of the earthquake’s epicenter and the second state
where Irene made landfall, so the state is a target-rich environment.

There’s House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. On God’s bulls-eye scale, the
epicenter near Mineral, Virginia is in Cantor’s district—a direct hit. And in
budget negotiations this year, Cantor’s contempt for the poor came through loud
and clear. He’s been the most aggressive congressional leader when it comes to
budget-cutting and pushing the economy as hard as possible over the cliff. Then,
after the earthquake hit, Cantor said any federal relief would have to be offset
with spending cuts, and quipped, “Obviously, the problem is that people in
Virginia don’t have earthquake insurance.” He reiterated his demand for offsetting cuts when Hurricane Irene hit shortly
afterward—even though he voted against such a provision after Tropical Storm Gaston hit
the Richmond area in 2004.

Then there’s Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. No way he escapes
God’s wrath. Cuccinelli’s widely criticized witch-hunt against eminent climate scientist Michael Mann
represents the most extreme right-wing attack on the mythical “climate-gate”
scandal, which consisted primarily of scientists making snide remarks about
ignoramuses like Cuccinelli. He’s all wrapped up in sin of bearing false
witness. Which is where Hurricane Irene comes in—although it surely doesn’t help
that Cuccinelli is suing to keep people sick, and has told Virginia’s colleges
and universities that they can’t ban anti-gay discrimination.

And, of course, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has tried to have it both
ways with God, as well as with the people of Virginia. On the one hand, all the
way back in 1989, he wrote a Christian Reconstructionist M.A. thesis, “The
Republican Party’s Vision for the Family: The Compelling Issue of the Decade” at
the College of Law at Pat Robertson’s Regent University. McDonnell’s authorship
of the thesis came to light during his 2009 campaign for governor, but because
the establishment is in deep denial about Dominionism in general, and Christian Reconstructionism in
particular, the full weight of his thesis never really sunk in. On the other
hand, McDonnell has tried very assiduously to walk away from that past, given
that almost no one wants to admit to such extreme views. He’s wobbled back and forth on a number of issues, but generally
tried to strike a reasonable demeanor—in sharp contrast to Cuccinelli. But God
doesn’t like folks who run hot and cold, which is why McDonnell’s a target,
too.

Finally, just to be a wee bit bipartisan about it, we need to include
Virginia’s Democratic Senator Mark Warner in our list—though with a bit of
twist. On the day of the earthquake, Warner was scheduled to speak at the
Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpepper,
Virginia. He arrived about 10 minutes after the quake, according to the local Star Exponent, which reported:

The building had been emptied of its staff and the approximate 75 people who
came to hear Warner so the former governor talked from under a tree atop Mount
Pony.

“I was not going to mention the fact that one of the last times I was in
Culpeper there was a tornado,” he said of an appearance years ago at
CulpeperFest marked by wild weather. “If you don’t want me to come back, there’s
an easier way to do this. If we start seeing frogs, it may be a sign of things
to come,” he said.

So it’s not that God is angry with Warner, exactly. He just targets Warner
for amusement, to see what he’ll say next. And, of course, because he, too,
represents Virginia, truly a state of sin.

8. North Carolina.

Hurricane Irene could have barreled directly into South Carolina, but it
delivered a stiff upper-cut to North Carolina instead. And why not? Governor Bev
Perdue tried her darnedest to protect the state. She vetoed its draconian budget
bill, only to see her veto over-ridden. It too was an attack on the poor — the bill
didn’t just fail to balance spending cuts with tax increases, it actually let a
temporary one-cent sales tax expire, along with some income taxes on high
earners, while cutting $124 million in local education funding on top of $305
million cut in previous years. Perdue also vetoed a highly restrictive abortion
law—one that, among other things, has a 24-hour waiting period, and force-feeds
anti-abortion propaganda to women seeking an abortion—call it the “Bearing False
Witness By Doctors Act.” But that veto was over-ridden as well—by a single vote in the
state senate. So, really, God’s hand was forced on this one. He had no choice
but to strike North Carolina, and strike it hard.

Finally, there are two individual targets to consider:

9. Rick Perry.

While the one-two punch of the Virginia earthquake and Hurricane Irene were
far removed from Texas Governor Rick Perry’s stomping grounds, God had not
forgotten Perry, but was merely preparing to toy with him. Perry, after all, had
responded to a terrible drought in Texas not by implementing any long-term
policy measures (which might make Texas better able to deal with the prospects
of more severe droughts to come as global warming impacts increase), but by
calling on Texans to pray.

Back in April, Perry proclaimed the “three-day period from Friday, April 22,
2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of
Texas.” Since then, however, things have only gotten worse, as Timothy Egan noted in the NY Times “Opinionator”
blog, “[A] rainless spring was followed by a rainless summer. July was the
hottest month in recorded Texas history….Nearly all of Texas  is now in
‘extreme or exceptional’ drought, as classified by federal meteorologists, the
worst in Texas history. Lakes have disappeared. Creeks are phantoms, the caked
bottoms littered with rotting, dead fish.”

Somehow, though, it seemed like most folks outside of Texas had no idea of
Perry’s failed prayer initiative. That’s where God came in, following up Irene
with the tantalizing prospect of a Gulf of Mexico storm that would finally bring
relief to the Longhorn state. But alas no. First Tropical Storm Jose petered out
entirely, then Tropical Storm Lee turned to Louisiana instead. If you pray with
Perry, you obviously take the Lord’s name in vain. As one frustrated Texan wrote on Reddit, “Perry’s prayer has been answered. The answer
was ‘No’.” God is making things perfectly clear, as Richard Nixon would say: If
you want someone praying for America in the White House, Rick Perry is not your
guy.

10 God.

Yes, it’s true, God Himself was one of the main targets of God’s wrath,
particularly during the earthquake, which did remarkably little damage to the
living. But, as Rob Kerby noted at BeliefNet, churches took some pretty hard hits:

“Churches seemed to bear the brunt of Tuesday’s 5.8 earthquake on the East
Coast.

“Significant damage was reported to Washington, D.C.’s National Cathedral and
St. Peter’s Catholic Church, historic St. Patrick’s Church near Baltimore, and
two churches in Culpepper, Va., close to the epicenter — St. Stephen Episcopal
Church and Culpepper Christian Assembly.”

Okay, so maybe God’s not self-flagellating. Maybe it’s the tenants who are
being targeted. But who’s to say, really? And if the God’s wrath biz is all
about appropriating authority to cast blame around, then why not think really
big, and proclaim God Himself to be the target? Pat Robertson & company have
monopolized this gig for far too long. If the rest of us are to have any hope of
catching up, we’re got to make ourselves a splash. And what better way to make a
splash than proclaiming that God is the target?


Fear, Inc.
The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America

Anti-Muslim graffiti defaces a Shi’ite mosque at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan.

SOURCE: Getty Images/Bill Pugliano

By Wajahat Ali, Eli Clifton, Matthew Duss, Lee Fang , Scott Keyes, Faiz Shakir |August 26, 2011

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Video: Ask the Expert: Faiz Shakir on the Group Behind Islamophobia

On July 22, a man planted a bomb in an Oslo government building that killed eight people. A few hours after the explosion, he shot and killed 68 people, mostly teenagers, at a Labor Party youth camp on Norway’s Utoya Island.

By midday, pundits were speculating as to who had perpetrated the greatest massacre in Norwegian history since World War II. Numerous mainstream media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic, speculated about an Al Qaeda connection and a “jihadist” motivation behind the attacks. But by the next morning it was clear that the attacker was a 32-year-old, white, blond-haired and blue-eyed Norwegian named Anders Breivik. He was not a Muslim, but rather a self-described Christian conservative.

According to his attorney, Breivik claimed responsibility for his self-described “gruesome but necessary” actions. On July 26, Breivik told the court that violence was “necessary” to save Europe from Marxism and “Muslimization.” In his 1,500-page manifesto, which meticulously details his attack methods and aims to inspire others to extremist violence, Breivik vows “brutal and breathtaking operations which will result in casualties” to fight the alleged “ongoing Islamic Colonization of Europe.”

Breivik’s manifesto contains numerous footnotes and in-text citations to American bloggers and pundits, quoting them as experts on Islam’s “war against the West.” This small group of anti-Muslim organizations and individuals in our nation is obscure to most Americans but wields great influence in shaping the national and international political debate. Their names are heralded within communities that are actively organizing against Islam and targeting Muslims in the United States.

Breivik, for example, cited Robert Spencer, one of the anti-Muslim misinformation scholars we profile in this report, and his blog, Jihad Watch, 162 times in his manifesto. Spencer’s website, which “tracks the attempts of radical Islam to subvert Western culture,” boasts another member of this Islamophobia network in America, David Horowitz, on his Freedom Center website. Pamela Geller, Spencer’s frequent collaborator, and her blog, Atlas Shrugs, was mentioned 12 times.

Geller and Spencer co-founded the organization Stop Islamization of America, a group whose actions and rhetoric the Anti-Defamation League concluded “promotes a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the guise of fighting radical Islam. The group seeks to rouse public fears by consistently vilifying the Islamic faith and asserting the existence of an Islamic conspiracy to destroy “American values.” 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&a select handful of scholars and activists who work together to create and promote misinformation about Muslims.

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. According to former CIA officer and terrorism consultant Marc Sageman, just as religious extremism “is the infrastructure from which Al Qaeda emerged,” the writings of these anti-Muslim misinformation experts are “the infrastructure from which Breivik emerged.” Sageman adds that their rhetoric “is not cost-free.”

These pundits and bloggers, however, are not the only members of the Islamophobia infrastructure. Breivik’s manifesto also cites think tanks, such as the Center for Security Policy, the Middle East Forum, and the Investigative Project on Terrorism—three other organizations we profile in this report. Together, this core group of deeply intertwined individuals and organizations manufacture and exaggerate threats of “creeping Sharia,” Islamic domination of the West, and purported obligatory calls to violence against all non-Muslims by the Quran.

This network of hate is not a new presence in the United States. Indeed, its ability to organize, coordinate, and disseminate its ideology through grassroots organizations increased dramatically over the past 10 years. Furthermore, its ability to influence politicians’ talking points and wedge issues for the upcoming 2012 elections has mainstreamed what was once considered fringe, extremist rhetoric.

And it all starts with the money flowing from a select group of foundations. A small group of foundations and wealthy donors are the lifeblood of the Islamophobia network in America, providing critical funding to a clutch of right-wing think tanks that peddle hate and fear of Muslims and Islam—in the form of books, reports, websites, blogs, and carefully crafted talking points that anti-Islam grassroots organizations and some right-wing religious groups use as propaganda for their constituency.

Some of these foundations and wealthy donors also provide direct funding to anti-Islam grassroots groups. According to our extensive analysis, here are the top seven contributors to promoting Islamophobia in our country:

  • Donors Capital Fund
  • Richard Mellon Scaife foundations
  • Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
  • Newton D. & Rochelle F. Becker foundations and charitable trust
  • Russell Berrie Foundation
  • Anchorage Charitable Fund and William Rosenwald Family Fund
  • Fairbrook Foundation

Altogether, these seven charitable groups provided $42.6 million to Islamophobia think tanks between 2001 and 2009—funding that supports the scholars and experts that are the subject of our next chapter as well as some of the grassroots groups that are the subject of Chapter 3 of our report.

And what does this money fund? Well, here’s one of many cases in point: Last July, former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich warned a conservative audience at the American Enterprise Institute that the Islamic practice of Sharia was “a mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it.” Gingrich went on to claim that “Sharia in its natural form has principles and punishments totally abhorrent to the Western world.”

Sharia, or Muslim religious code, includes practices such as charitable giving, prayer, and honoring one’s parents—precepts virtually identical to those of Christianity and Judaism. But Gingrich and other conservatives promote alarmist notions about a nearly 1,500-year-old religion for a variety of sinister political, financial, and ideological motives. In his remarks that day, Gingrich mimicked the language of conservative analyst Andrew McCarthy, who co-wrote a report calling Sharia “the preeminent totalitarian threat of our time.” Such similarities in language are no accident. Look no further than the organization that released McCarthy’s anti-Sharia report: the aforementioned Center for Security Policy, which is a central hub of the anti-Muslim network and an active promoter of anti- Sharia messaging and anti-Muslim rhetoric.

In fact, CSP is a key source for right-wing politicians, pundits, and grassroots organizations, providing them with a steady stream of reports mischaracterizing Islam and warnings about the dangers of Islam and American Muslims. Operating under the leadership of Frank Gaffney, the organization is funded by a small number of foundations and donors with a deep understanding of how to influence U.S. politics by promoting highly alarming threats to our national security. CSP is joined by other anti-Muslim organizations in this lucrative business, such as Stop Islamization of America and the Society of Americans for National Existence. Many of the leaders of these organizations are well-schooled in the art of getting attention in the press, particularly Fox News, The Wall Street Journal editorial pages, The Washington Times, and a variety of right-wing websites and radio outlets.

Misinformation experts such as Gaffney consult and work with such right-wing grassroots organizations as ACT! for America and the Eagle Forum, as well as religious right groups such as the Faith and Freedom Coalition and American Family Association, to spread their message. Speaking at their conferences, writing on their websites, and appearing on their radio shows, these experts rail against Islam and cast suspicion on American Muslims. Much of their propaganda gets churned into fundraising appeals by grassroots and religious right groups. The money they raise then enters the political process and helps fund ads supporting politicians who echo alarmist warnings and sponsor anti-Muslim attacks.

These efforts recall some of the darkest episodes in American history, in which religious, ethnic, and racial minorities were discriminated against and persecuted. From Catholics, Mormons, Japanese Americans, European immigrants, Jews, and African Americans, the story of America is one of struggle to achieve in practice our founding ideals. Unfortunately, American Muslims and Islam are the latest chapter in a long American struggle against scapegoating based on religion, race, or creed.

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. Only 37 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Islam: the lowest favorability rating since 2001, according to a 2010 ABC News/Washington Post poll. According to a 2010 Time magazine poll, 28 percent of voters do not believe Muslims should be eligible to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, and nearly one-third of the country thinks followers of Islam should be barred from running for president.

The terrorist attacks on 9/11 alone did not drive Americans’ perceptions of Muslims and Islam. President George W. Bush reflected the general opinion of the American public at the time when he went to great lengths to make clear that Islam and Muslims are not the enemy. Speaking to a roundtable of Arab and Muslim American leaders at the Afghanistan embassy in 2002, for example, President Bush said, “All Americans must recognize that the face of terror is not the true faith—face of Islam. Islam is a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. It’s a faith that has made brothers and sisters of every race. It’s a faith based upon love, not hate.”

Unfortunately, President Bush’s words were soon eclipsed by an organized escalation of hateful statements about Muslims and Islam from the members of the Islamophobia network profiled in this report. This is as sad as it is dangerous. It is enormously important to understand that alienating the Muslim American community not only threatens our fundamental promise of religious freedom, it also hurts our efforts to combat terrorism. Since 9/11, the Muslim American community has helped security and law enforcement officials prevent more than 40 percent of Al Qaeda terrorist plots threatening America. The largest single source of initial information to authorities about the few Muslim American plots has come from the Muslim American community.

Around the world, there are people killing people in the name of Islam, with which most Muslims disagree. Indeed, in most cases of radicalized neighbors, family members, or friends, the Muslim American community is as baffled, disturbed, and surprised by their appearance as the general public. Treating Muslim American citizens and neighbors as part of the problem, rather than part of the solution, is not only offensive to America’s core values, it is utterly ineffective in combating terrorism and violent extremism.

The White House recently released the national strategy for combating violent extremism, “Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States.” One of the top focal points of the effort is to “counter al-Qa’ida’s propaganda that the United States is somehow at war with Islam.” Yet orchestrated efforts by the individuals and organizations detailed in this report make it easy for al-Qa’ida to assert that America hates Muslims and that Muslims around the world are persecuted for the simple crime of being Muslims and practicing their religion.

Sadly, the current isolation of American Muslims echoes past witch hunts in our history—from the divisive McCarthyite purges of the 1950s to the sometimes violent anti-immigrant campaigns in the 19th and 20th centuries. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has compared the fear-mongering of Muslims with anti-Catholic sentiment of the past. In response to the fabricated “Ground Zero mosque” controversy in New York last summer, Mayor Bloomberg said:

In the 1700s, even as religious freedom took hold in America, Catholics in New York were effectively prohibited from practicing their religion, and priests could be arrested. Largely as a result, the first Catholic parish in New York City was not established until the 1780s, St. Peter’s on Barclay Street, which still stands just one block north of the World Trade Center site, and one block south of the proposed mosque and community center. … We would betray our values and play into our enemies’ hands if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else.

This report shines a light on the Islamophobia network of so-called experts, academics, institutions, grassroots organizations, media outlets, and donors who manufacture, produce, distribute, and mainstream an irrational fear of Islam and Muslims. Let us learn the proper lesson from the past, and rise above fear-mongering to public awareness, acceptance, and respect for our fellow Americans. In doing so, let us prevent hatred from infecting and endangering our country again.

In the pages that follow, we profile the small number of funders, organizations, and individuals who have contributed to the discourse on Islamophobia in this country. We begin with the money trail in Chapter 1—our analysis of the funding streams that support anti-Muslim activities. Chapter 2 identifies the intellectual nexus of the Islamophobia network. Chapter 3 highlights the key grassroots players and organizations that help spread the messages of hate. Chapter 4 aggregates the key media amplifiers of Islamophobia. And Chapter 5 brings attention to the elected officials who frequently support the causes of anti- Muslim organizing.

Before we begin, a word about the term “Islamophobia.” We don’t use this term lightly. We define it 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.

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. 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.

Wajahat Ali is a researcher at the Center for American Progress and a researcher for the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Eli Clifton is a researcher at the Center for American Progress and a national security reporter for the Center for American Progress Action Fund and ThinkProgress.org. Matthew Duss is a Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress and Director of the Center’s Middle East Progress. Lee Fang is a researcher at the Center for American Progress and an investigative researcher/blogger for the Center for American Progress Action Fund and ThinkProgress.org. Scott Keyes is a researcher at the Center for American Progress and an investigative researcher for ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Faiz Shakir is a Vice President at the Center for American Progress and serves as Editor-in-Chief of ThinkProgress.org.

Download this report (pdf)

Read the report in your web browser (Scribd)

Download individual chapters of the report (pdf):

Video: Ask the Expert: Faiz Shakir on the Group Behind Islamophobia