An ambitious 81-page document, Fear, Inc. 2.0: The Islamophobia Network's Efforts to Manufacture Hate in America, just appeared from the Center for American Progress, a liberal Democratic organization. Unlike its first iteration, in which a group with a $40-million annual budget and deep ties to big business had the nerve to claim that seven much smaller institutions were overpowering the country through their financial clout, this one looks at what the alleged "Islamophobia network" actually does.
The report, written by Matthew Duss, Yasmine Taeb, Ken Gude, and Ken Sofer, makes for interesting reading. Its premise is that critics of Islamism (1) are really anti-Islamic and (2) have single-handedly distorted a fundamental American value, namely a "basic respect for the rights of minority groups throughout the country." According to the CAP study, "the views of anti-Muslim actors stand in stark contrast to the values of most Americans."
By dint of hard work, however, "a well-funded, well-organized fringe movement can push discriminatory policies against a segment of American society by intentionally spreading lies while taking advantage of moments of public anxiety and fear." This effort "takes many shapes and forms": a general climate, cynical political efforts, and institutional policies. Despite some setbacks, continues the CAP narrative, the network's efforts "continue to erode America's core values of religious pluralism, civil rights, and social inclusion."
Those fingered as part of this network (I am one) should be perversely proud of our accomplishment: Just a handful of lying individuals manage to subvert a core American value – and all this with what CAP itself estimated to be less than $5 million a year!
The (Hindu) Rama Temple in Lemont, Illinois, raises few issues.
Another way of putting it: the United States hosts about as many Buddhists and Hindus combined as it does Muslims. Yet, when did Buddhists or Hindus try to change the existing order or engage in violence on behalf of their faiths? Who ever hears about them? Who fears them?
Maybe it's Islamists who are prompting powerful and spontaneous responses through their threatening behavior. Maybe we critics are not "intentionally spreading lies" but honestly interpreting Islamist aggression and supremacism. Maybe CAP and its ilk should blame the fear of Islam less on us critics and more on the Islamists themselves. (February 13, 2015)
Mar. 13, 2015 update: For anyone ready for another serving of the preposterous notion that we few critics of Islamism are the reason why polls show Americans are becoming more hostile to Islam, Nathan Lean provides a generous dose at "Islamophobia in the United States: A Case of the Three 'I's." Not only that, but he even accuses us of saying what we do for mercenary reasons.
Aug. 31, 2015 update: The vicious and inaccurate Max Blumenthal presented the identical thesis in a December 2010 article titled "The Great Islamophobic Crusade" in which he blames the usual cast of characters, including myself, for the negative views of Muslims among Americans: "it's the fruit of an organized, long-term campaign by a tight confederation of right-wing activists and operatives."
What's noteworthy is that his father Sidney sent the article to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (with the subject line, "Latest: Max Blumenthal, The Great Fear, Inside the Bizarre Cabal") who sent it to Monica R. Hanley with the instruction "Pls print for me." Hanley responded, "I'm at the post office but Huma has this printed for you."
This e-mail was released today and can be read in full by searching for the title of the article here.
Comments: (1) Thank you, Max Blumenthal, for inserting me into this historic data dump. (2) As for the inaccuracy mentioned above, here is one example: Blumenthal repeatedly got Charles Jacobs' name wrong, calling him Charles Peters.