The Islamophobia Network in the USA: Misinformation in Action

Posted on October 6, 2011

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Center for American Progress

This in-depth investigation conducted by the Center for American Progress Action Fund reveals not a vast right-wing conspiracy behind the rise of Islamophobia in our nation but rather a small, tightly networked group of misinformation experts guiding an effort that reaches millions of Americans through effective advocates, media partners, and grassroots organizing. This spreading of hate and misinformation primarily starts with five key people and their organizations, which are sustained by funding from a clutch of key foundations.

The funding

• More than $40 million flowed from seven foundations over 10 years. • The foundations funding the misinformation experts:

Donors Capital Fund; Richard Mellon Scaife Foundation; Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation; Newton and Rochelle Becker Foundation and Newton and Rochelle Becker Charitable Trust; Russell Berrie Foundation, Anchorage Charitable Fund and William Rosenwald Family Fund; Fairbrook Foundation

The misinformation experts

• Five experts generate the false facts and materials used by political leaders, grassroots groups, and the media:

• Frank Gaffney at the Center for Security Policy

• David Yerushalmi at the Society of Americans for National Existence

• Daniel Pipes at the Middle East Forum

• Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch and Stop Islamization of America

• Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism

• These experts travel the country and work with or testify before state legislatures calling for a ban on the nonexisting threat of Sharia law in America and proclaiming that the vast majority of mosques in our country harbor Islamist terrorists or sympathizers.

• David Yerushalmi’s “model legislation” banning Sharia law has been cut and pasted into bills in South Carolina, Texas, and Alaska. His video on how to draft an anti-Sharia bill and his online tools have been picked up nationwide.

The reach

• The movement is moving nationwide in more than 23 states— made possible by a combination of new, single-minded Islamophobia groups, exemplified by Brigitte Gabriel’s ACT! For America, Pam Geller’s Stop Islamization of America, David Horowitz’s Freedom Center, and existing groups such as the American Family Association and the Eagle Forum.

• Misinformation experts are broadcast around the country and the world, with their work cited many times by (among others) confessed Norway terrorist Anders Breivik.

• U.S. politicians such as Reps. Peter King (R-NY), Allen West (R-FL), and Michele Bachmann (R-MN) repeat these anti-Muslim attacks give credence to incorrect facts.

The impact

• This small network of people is driving the national and global debates that have real consequences on the public dialogue and on American Muslims.

In September 2010, a Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that 49 percent of Americans held an unfavorable view of Islam, a significant increase from 39 percent in October of 2002.

Why it matters

• These attacks go right to the heart of two critically important national issues: the fabric and strength of our democracy and our national security. Our Constitution upholds freedom of religion for all Americans. Contending that some religions are not part of the promise of American freedoms established by our founders directly challenges who we are as a nation.

• One of Al Qaeda’s greatest recruitment and propaganda tool is the assertion that the West is at war with Islam and Muslims—an argument that is strengthened every day by those who suggest all Muslims are terrorists and all those practicing Islam are jeopardizing U.S. security.

Please click here to read the remainder of this report.

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Posted in: Islam