The Islamophobic Echo Chamber
Date posted: August 31, 2011
While it sometimes enjoys the trappings of a grassroots campaign, the anti-Islamic movement in the United States—which exploded after 9/11 and whose popular presence has increasingly been felt since the election of President Barack Obama—is in fact coordinated by a small coterie of right-wing foundations, think tanks, media figures, and bloggers, according to a new report by the Center for American Progress.
The report, entitled “Fear Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” details the “echo chamber” created by right-wing think tanks and advocacy organizations like Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy (CSP), Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum (MEF), David Yerushalmi’s Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE), Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch and Stop Islamization of America, and Steven Emerson’s Investigate Project on Terrorism.
The reports produced by these self-professed experts on Islam are aggressively promoted by a coterie of like-minded bloggers like Pamela Geller; sympathetically reported by right-leaning media outlets like Fox News, the Washington Times, and David Horowitz’s Front Page Magazine; and ultimately regurgitated by rightist politicians like Newt Gingrich, who use the base instinct of fear to motivate the electorate. According to the report’s authors, this propaganda machine has been funded by seven key foundations, which have provided nearly $43 million in funding for the network over the last decade.
The subjects of the report and their sympathizers have not reacted kindly to its findings.
David Horowitz called the document a “typical fascistic attempt to silence critics…[who] inform the American public about the threats we face from the Islamic jihad.” Robert Spencer dismissed the authors’ characterization of him as “anti-Muslim” as “manipulative and propagandistic”—attributing the report to the work of the “Islamic supremacist propaganda machine,” apparently without irony. Outdoing the lot of them, Pamela Geller compared the document to “a Mein Kampf treatise,” likening it to “Goebbels attacking the Jew,” before unsubtly including a plug for her book on the “Islamization” of the United States.
Some of the foundations identified in the CAP report, like the Bradley Foundation and those run by Richard Scaife, have long been associated with various right-wing causes. Others are less well known, so the impact of the report on their funding activities remains to be seen. At least one foundation has reportedly expressed discomfort with having been publicly connected to the Islamophobia campaign. On the other hand, if the rather boldly hysterical reactions of the funders’ beneficiaries and sympathizers are any indication, no one need worry that the money will dry up anytime soon.
Right Web Profiles
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation (“the Bradley Foundation”) has been called "the country's largest and most influential right-wing organization" because of the volume...
Long active in the promotion of neoconservative foreign policies, the Center for Security Policy, led by Frank Gaffney, has also distinguished itself as a banner member of the “Islamophobia network.”
Despite his history of making questionable claims, self-proclaimed terrorism “expert” Steve Emerson has made a lucrative career warning about terrorist threats and condemning Islamists.
Brigitte Gabriel has made a post-9/11 career out of roundly denouncing Islam, decrying "political correctness," and promoting the concept of an existential clash of cultures. She founded...
Frank Gaffney is a leading anti-Islam pundit in the United States who has helped foster a discriminatory discourse in the country aimed at marginalizing Muslims and outlawing the practice of their faith.
The former GOP presidential candidate and Speaker of the House has been a vociferous proponent of the idea that the America faces an existential threat from “Islamofascists.”
Horowitz, an ex-lefty known for making vitriolic attacks on his former comrades, has turned the demonization of Muslims into a lucrative enterprise
The neoconservative Middle East Forum is a Philadelphia-base bastion of Islamophobic rhetoric whose main claim to fame has been its attack on academics who do not toe a hawkish “pro-Israel” line in their curriculum.
Founder of the Middle East Forum, Daniel Pipes is an influential advocate of militarist U.S. policies in the Middle East and a controversial critic of “lawful Islamism” in the West.
Richard Mellon Scaife, owner of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and chairman of the Scaife Foundations, has been a key financier of the American Right for decades. In 2006, Scaife’s three major...
The Scaife Foundations are a quartet of conservative foundations—the Sarah Scaife, the Carthage, the Allegheny, and the Scaife Family—that have served as the primary vehicles for the...
The Society of Americans for National Existence is an anti-Muslim advocacy group that has spearheaded efforts to get U.S. states to pass laws criminalizing sharia law.
David Yerushalmi, a hardline anti-Muslim activist and the founder of the Society of Americans for National Existence, has been described as a “white supremacist” and a “Jewish fascist.”
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Wajahat Ali, Eli Clifton, Matthew Duss, Lee Fang, Scott Keyes, and Faiz Shakir, Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobic Network in America, Center for American Progress, August 26, 2011
This report details who's in the business of defeaming Islam and Muslims in the United States -- and who's footing the bill.
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