Archive for Daily Kos

A Lavish Feast: Hatemongers, Hypocrites, and the Hate Du Jour

Posted in Feature, Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2012 by loonwatch

Bart Simpson

In a daring display of “investigative journalism,” Loonwatch was recently “outed” as a site, “pretty much exclusively concerned with exposing the perceived enemies of Islam…” This jealously guarded secret was previously known only to tech-savvy visitors clever enough to click the link to our About page:

Loonwatch.com is a blogzine run by a motley group of hate-allergic bloggers to monitor and expose the web’s plethora of anti-Muslim loons, wackos, and conspiracy theorists…..

Isn’t that a fancy way of saying pretty much the same thing?

Throughout the screed ”exposing” our “super secret mission,” there are numerous ludicrous and fact-less assertions, which have been refuted here and here. A garden variety bigot isn’t of much interest to us here, but amid the baseless accusations, fuzzy logic, and shameless self-promotion, there is a question that warrants a response:

Does Loonwatch really shun all criticism of Islam and immediately silence our critics by branding them as loons?

Similar accusations have been made repeatedly, against Loonwatch and other sites devoted to fighting Islamophobia. The short and simple answer is “no.” As American Muslim civil rights activist Ahmed Rehab has said:

One thing we must never allow is for the bad amongst us – terrorists, extremists, ideologues of exclusion and hate – to succeed in turning the rest of us against each other. We must condemn them, ostracize them, and disempower them. The way to do that is to strengthen our relations, and stand with one another. That is the only way to spell defeat for the agents of hate.

We must emerge from our comfort zones and stand together as one against all forms of violence, ignorance, and intolerance….

Islam should be subjected to its fair share of constructive criticism and we have said as much in a significant number of articles. In fact several of our writers have severely criticized the theological premises of certain violent and regressive trends within the worldwide Muslim community. The problem is that there’s nothing fair or constructive about the ocean of half truths and outright lies that are routinely spread about Islam and Muslims by a well-funded network of pseudo scholars, grassroots activists, media amplifiers, serial fabricators, and other assorted anti-Muslim crackpots.

Legitimate criticism is truthful, proportionate, and in accordance with fair standards.

One of our most popular recent articles, Fake Nigerian Christians Burnt Alive Photo Resurfaces on Facebook, exposes anti-Muslim bigot and serial fabricator Pamela Geller trying to pass off a photo from a tragic accident as an incident of Muslims burning Christians alive.

Legitimate criticism is truthful. 

There is a constant barrage of  propaganda that says “Islamic terrorism” is the world’s greatest threat. Hate sites far and wide trumpet brash and baseless claims, which we routinely expose as lies: 17,000 “Islamic terrorist” Attacks Exist in Fevered Islamophobic Brains.

Yet meticulously documented statistics on the website Unknown News put the figures in proper context:

About 303 times as many people have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq than in the ghastly attacks of September 11, 2001.

More than 130 times as many people have been killed in these wars and occupations than in all terrorist attacks in the world from 1993-2004, according to data compiled by the US State Department.

Every life is sacred and precious, and reducing individuals to statistics is a grisly calculus. However, we must make the point that war consistently kills far more innocent civilians than terrorism. What justifies the myopic focus on the latter?

Legitimate criticism is proportionate.

Another favorite trick of anti-Muslim bigots is to cherry pick violent and intolerant passages from Islamic scripture and juxtapose them next to relatively peaceful passages from Jewish or Christian scripture. Loonwatch has a whole series of articles addressing this inconsistency: The Understanding Jihad Series: Is Islam More Likely Than Other Religions to Encourage Violence?

The most recent additions are here and here. We repeatedly expose this unfair tactic and insist that all religions be measured by the same set of standards.

Legitimate criticism is in accordance with fair standards.

Our mission is to expose the lies, exaggerations and double standards employed by anti-Muslim bigots, and our articles do exactly that. We advocate universal human rights, and refuse to give anyone a free pass.

We condemn all acts of terrorism and the killing of innocent civilians, no matter who is responsible.

No matter how many times we condemn terrorism, “critics” insist we haven’t condemned terrorism, and have even had the audacity to smear us a terrorist spin control network. It’s become almost laughable and reminiscent of a famous scene from the 1979 British comedy film, Monty Python’s Life of Brian:

Brian: …Will you please listen? I’m not the Messiah! Do you understand? Honestly!

Woman: Only the true Messiah denies his divinity!

Brian: What? Well, what sort of chance does that give me? All right, I am the Messiah!

Crowd: He is! He is the Messiah!

Will you please listen? We do condemn terrorism! Do you understand? Honestly! …

It’s time to resort to a more potent weapon: common sense. When some halfwit sets his underwear on fire in a failed terrorist attack, anyone with the slightest stake in the Muslim community instantly thinks, “Please, please…don’t let it be a Muslim!”

If it turns out the perpetrator is a Muslim, it is an unmitigated disaster for Muslims everywhere. Besides being morally repugnant, terrorism is self-defeating.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks paved the way for the US to bomb, invade, and occupy one Muslim country after another, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. Syria and Iran may be next.  The Islamophobia that germinated in the aftermath of the attacks has rooted itself in the public imagination and continues to deepen and expand, despite the loons’ absurd claims it doesn’t exist.

The blatantly obvious, self-evident truth is that terrorism hurts Muslims and damages the fight against bigotry.

In fact, it’s hard to imagine anything that sets back the cause of fighting anti-Muslim bigotry more than a terrorist attack that is in any way associated with Muslims. The loons delight in reporting terrorist attacks because their interests are served, not ours. In fact, anti-Muslim hatemongers and outrage peddlers are so eager to publish news of “Islamic” terrorist attacks, they don’t even care if there are no Muslims involved, as we’ve reported here and here.

We condemn all acts of terrorism and the killing of innocent civilians, no matter who is responsible. 

Our question to critics: Do you? 

As Danios said in his recent article, We’re at War!” — And We Have Been Since 1776: 214 Years of American War-Making:

The objects of American aggression have certainly changed with time, but the primary motivating factor behind U.S. wars of aggression have always been the same: expansion of U.S. hegemony.  The Muslim world is being bombed, invaded, and occupied by the United States not because of radical Islam or any inherent flaw in themselves.  Rather, it is being so attacked because it is in the path of the American juggernaut, which is always in need of war.

The evidence that radical Islam is the justification, but not the catalyst, for US invasions is simply historical precedent. Decades before the War on Terror, the late civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke out against the war in Vietnam, and his words are no less relevant today:

As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through non-violent action; but they ask and rightly so, “What about Vietnam?” They ask if our nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems…and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without first having spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government…

This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death…

The time has come for America to hear the truth about this tragic war. In international conflicts, the truth is hard to come by because most nations are deceived about themselves. Rationalizations and the incessant search for scapegoats are the psychological cataracts that blind us to our sins…

Even as we commemorate Dr. King’s eloquent and timeless truths, it seems we’ve missed his essential message.

The US dominates the world through military power, maintaining over 700 bases in more than 130 countries, and is still bombing and invading nations with impunity. How is it that we view Muslims as the ones who are exceptionally violent and hellbent on taking over the world?

pro·jec·tion

: the attribution of one’s own ideas, feelings, or attitudes to other people or to objects; especially : the externalization of blame, guilt, or responsibility as a defense against anxiety.

The US has been variously bombing and starving Iraqis for more than two decades, which begs the question:  What did the nation of Iraq ever do to the United States? The answer: nothing.

How is it possible to fixate on acts of terrorism while simultaneously ignoring the colossal crimes the US has visited on the once prosperous nation of Iraq?

dou·ble stan·dard

: a set of principles that applies differently and usually more rigorously to one group of people or circumstances than to another.

de·ni·al

: negation in logic

: a psychological defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality.

Iran hasn’t attacked another country in over 200 years. Even as the US threatens to launch a war against this relatively peaceful nation, many Americans continue to view their country as peace-loving  and standing firmly on the moral high ground.

What accounts for this resilient sense of self-righteousness?

pro·pa·gan·da

: the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person

: ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect

ra·tio·nal·ization

: to attribute (one’s actions) to rational and creditable motives without analysis of true and especially unconscious motives.

de·lu·sion

: a persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self or persons or objects outside the self that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary; also : the abnormal state marked by such beliefs.

How can our critics remain virtually silent on the Western violence and simultaneously assert, ”Loonwatch is protecting Jihadists and terrorists through lies of omission.”

hy·poc·ri·sy

: a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; especially : the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion.

Defense mechanisms and relentless propaganda are the “psychological cataracts” that embolden us to criticize others and remain blind to our own faults. Refusal to take a good look in the mirror is also a lie of omission.

We condemn all acts of terrorism and the killing of innocent civilians, no matter who is responsible.

Again, our question to critics: Do you? 

Of course, the so-called “counter-jihadists” could reasonably argue that they too have a limited focus, and are, “pretty much exclusively concerned with exposing the truth about Islam…” That’s fine, as long as their criticism is truthful, proportionate, and in accordance with fair standards.

Read the following excerpts and decide if they constitute hate speech or merely tell the unvarnished truth about Islam:

The cultured peoples, both today and in the past, create and build, proving their worth as the creators and advancers of culture. Islam was and remains only the corrupter and destroyer of culture… Islam can never be great, can never create culture, for it is not a people, but rather only a corrupt mixture of inferior desert tribes with no national life or longing, with no proud and famous past.

And:

In this war for the very existence of the American people, we must daily remind ourselves that Muslims unleashed this war against us….

There is nothing cruder than the Muslim religious books: the Qur’an, the Sunnah, and the Hadith…The whole is a collection of ghost hunting and mysticism, blind cursing and the crassest egotism, an unimaginable superiority complex, sick perversity, the overturning of all natural laws, lust for murder, terror, and horror.

The Crusades, with their enormous sacrifices in the blood of northern peoples, were the result of Muslim insanity.

And:

One feels horror at the unique depravity of the Muslims, at the crimes they have committed, at the devilish hate they have from the beginning directed against all those who did not want to bow to the yoke of Islam! This horror becomes terror when one reads the Qur’anic writings and reads such outbursts of Muslim rage as one finds in the Sunnah and Hadith…..

The term “kafir” expresses the deep antipathy Muslims feel toward infidels. Despite its inferiority, Islam was able to survive over the millennia because of its satanic hatred against infidels.

Muslim hatred today is as strong as it ever was. He who does not submit is their enemy. The Muslim hates the enemy with all his heart and with all the strength of his satanic soul….

Deep and boundless hatred is an essential characteristic of Islam.

Now there is war! The Muslims forced us into a struggle for life and death. The war has forced us to give up much we formerly thought was necessary. It has also forced us to give up the “politeness” that in reality is a weakness. A boxer in the ring must use his fists to defend himself against his opponent. A fencer can only win when he uses his sword. We as a people will survive this war only if we eliminate weakness and “politeness” and respond to the Muslims with an equal hatred. We must always keep in mind what the Muslim wants today, and what he plans to do with us. If we do not oppose the Muslims with the entire energy of our people, we are lost. But if we can use the full force of our soul that has been released by the new crusade, we need not fear the future. The devilish hatred of the Muslims plunged the world into war, need and misery. Our holy hate will bring us victory and save all of mankind.

Common themes include the cultural inferiority of “desert tribes,” crude scriptures, boundless hate for infidels, unique depravity, a superiority complex, sick perversity, and lust for murder, terror, and horror. Muslims pose an existential threat, and their collective insanity is even responsible for the Crusades.

This is pretty standard fare for hate sites like Jihad Watch, Atlas Shrugs, and Frontpage Magazine. Can you guess the source?

It’s a trick question because none of these excerpts came from contemporary hate sites. All are from articles published decades ago by Nazis. Every word in bold has been modified so the passages appear to refer to Muslims instead of Jews.

You can view the original versions here, here and here. We previously published an article comparing specific statements from pre-Nazi era Antisemitic propagandist Julius Streicher and Robert Spencer, here.

That brings us to the next part of the Loonwatch mission statement:

While we find the sheer stupidity and outrageousness of the loons to be a source of invaluable comedy, we also recognize the seriousness of the danger they represent as dedicated hatemongers…

Muslims have not (yet) been subjected to pogroms or rounded up en mass and herded into internment camps, and the point is to make sure that doesn’t happen. We have learned the lessons of history.

During the Nazi era, Antisemitic propaganda resonated with many “good Germans,” just as many “good Americans” once accepted slavery and thought of Native Americans as “savages.”  Everyone outside the lunatic fringe recognizes the monstrous injustices of the past, but far fewer have the moral fortitude to recognize and speak out against the socially sanctioned injustices of the present day.

Islamophobia is the hate du jour, and hatemongers and hypocrites are enjoying a lavish feast.

Eric Allen Bell Defects to JihadWatch Twilight Zone: Islamophobic Diarist Dumped by Daily Kos

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , on January 23, 2012 by loonwatch

Eric Allen Bell, the loon, has been dumped by Daily Kos for being a bigot.  Good riddance.

What many have suspected seems to have happened, birds of a feather flock together.

If you sound like a bigot, write like a bigot, argue like a bigot, then you’re a bigot… he started sounding more and more like Robert Spencer and sure enough now they’re reposting each other for validation.

Damn you Kossacks, Eric Allen Bell is miffed

by LaFeminista

After three diaries of mounting Islamophobia Eric was finally dumped, what a shame I here you all cry.

Now I hardly feel the need to friend him on  facebook but I might as well copy his whine here

Eric Allen Bell
Daily Kos has removed me as a writer. Apparently appealing to people’s humanity and asking if we can take a stand on human rights is not a value that DKOS holds as dear as compromise and commercialization. The liberal class in America IS NOT an effective voice of dissent. Either you are radical or you just don’t care. The middle ground is a waiting room for cowards.

Sorry Eric, you were not removed as a writer, but because you sounded just like Pamela Geller.

You mount a typical defense used by bigots everywhere, “I’m just telling the truth”.

You then proceed to lump every Muslim under a violent, bloodthirsty and bigoted banner, you even stooped to the “they are mere savages” argument.

You were not banned for speaking the truth.

You were banned because you are a bigot, sorry but it really is as simple as that.

Good riddance I say.

Eric Allen Bell Chooses to Retain “Ridiculous Prejudice”

Posted in Loon Blogs, Loon Sites, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2012 by loonwatch
Eric Allen Bell
Eric Allen Bell

Eric Allen Bell Chooses to Retain “Ridiculous Prejudice”

by Sheila Musaji

This past week Eric Allen Bell posted an article on Daily Kos attacking the Loonwatch site

I was startled when I read the article, and sent an email “heads up” to Danios at Loonwatch in case he hadn’t seen the article yet.  He replied that he had not seen it, and he was equally surprised at the content and at the venue in which the article was printed.

I had previously heard the name Eric Allen Bell only in relation to a documentary he had made One Mosque Too Many on the Murfreesboro Mosque.  That documentary was well received in the American Muslim community, and in the interfaith community.  Bell said himself about this documentary and why he made it

It was on this past 4th of July that I decided to make a documentary about the backlash against the building of a new Islamic Center here in Mufreesboro, TN. At that time I had no idea that a chilling wave of anti-Islamic hysteria was about to sweep over the country, strengthen the far right and send the civil rights movement several decades backwards all in the matter of just a few short weeks.

The documentary is titled “Not Welcome” and chronicles events in Murfreesboro concerning the backlash against the Mosque from the 4th of July to 9/11 of 2010. I have interviewed nearly everyone on all sides of this issue here. And along the way I have been threatened repeatedly but I have also made many new friends. I have learned a lot about how my own ridiculous prejudices about the South have distorted my point of view. I have been surprised repeatedly at how often the most unlikely of people can defy their stereotype with acts of kindness, courage and compassion. I have come to know many members of the Islamic community here, known them as friends, broken bread with them and watched as they faced persecution without striking back, without getting consumed with anger, watched as they prayed for those who oppose them, asked for God’s mercy on them and trusted that, in the end, whatever happens will be God’s will.

Because of that background, this current article of Bell’s was particularly puzzling. How could the person who said I have learned a lot about how my own ridiculous prejudices about the South have distorted my point of view. also be the person who showed ridiculous prejudice against the same American Muslim community he seemed to respect?  I thought that perhaps there are two different individuals with the same name – one opposed to bigotry, and one encouraging it, and so I did a little research.

There is only one Eric Allen Bell.  He has a website, and one of the sections of that site is Freedom From Religion.  Scrolling through the posts in that section, it became obvious that this individual is not fond of religion.  Bell’s posted comments are not just anti-Islam, but anti-all religion.  One of his posts is titled “God” is part of the 1 percent, and seems to sum up Bell’s position:

Once upon a time a very, very angry man named “god” created the world, got pissed off at everybody and killed them all with a flood, except for his buddy Noah and his 2 live crew. Later God decided everyone is so lame that he chose his “chosen people” to give a plot of real estate to while telling everyone else to f*ck off, ordered some ethnic cleansings to clear out the area and so forth. Still finding nearly all people to be unbearable (and who can blame him, really?) this god person decided, out of the kindness of his heart, to send his only son to be brutally tortured and savagely murdered so that he won’t have to send us all into a lake of hell fire for all eternity, because he loves us.

About 600 years later, god met this slave owner named Mohammed who also hated most people and the two of them really hit it off. God told Mohammed to wipe out the Jews, the Christians, basically everyone who did not see the the world the way that he did, and together they decided to call this new way of thinking, “the religion of peace”. But now the religion of peace wants to wipe god’s chosen people off of their plot of real estate and the followers of god’s poor brutalized son – whom the chosen people killed (oops, epic fail there guys) see this as a good thing because it will bring about the end of the world, and god’s son will appear in the clouds while the rest of us can go to hell. What does this all mean? It means god must be stopped and his followers need to give us back our planet before they blow the whole damned thing up in one big rapturous apocalyptic orgasm of self fulfilling prophecy. In other words GOD IS PART OF THE 1 PERCENT. “He” must be stopped.

On his site he promotes films like “Islam, What the West Needs to Know” about which he says “I cannot say that I am in 100% agreement with everything said in this documentary. However, having read the Koran, visited a few mosques and produced a documentary on Islamophobia in the Bible Belt, it is my feeling that fundamentally what is being put forth here in “Islam – What the West Needs to Know” is correct.”

As Colm O’Broin has pointed out about this particular “documentary”

The documentary Islam: What the West needs to know, which features many of the most influential anti-jihad writers, makes this point clear. A short TV ad is shown of ordinary Muslim Americans describing their backgrounds and finishes with the statement that “Muslims are part of the fabric of this great country and are working to build a better America.” The contributors to the documentary warn ominously however that the Koran allows Muslims to deceive non-believers in the service of Islam.

This is possibly the most reprehensible claim made by the anti-Muslim writers. If you accepted what they say it would mean that you can’t trust your friends, relatives, neighbours or work colleagues if they happen to be Muslim. In fact, all Muslims are suspect according to this poisonous allegation.

Bell’s admiration for films like this, and for individuals like Robert Spencer of the hate group SIOA makes some sense after scrolling through Bell’s site.  Although Spencer is a devout Catholic, and Bell would have no more respect for his religious beliefs than he would have for my religious beliefs, in Bell’s war against religion, it seems that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is his philosophy.

I had been working on a detailed response, but Devon Moore, also on Daily Kos posted an article yesterday Daily Kos Being Used to Further Classic Right-Wing Propaganda Against Loonwatch which does an excellent job of refuting the nonsense in Bell’s original article.

Bell begins his article by saying that,

The newly coined term Islamophobia describes an irrational fear of Islam.  But for LoonWatch.com any criticism of the Koran or of violent Jihad – even those criticisms that might have some legitimacy to them – even of radical Islam, are branded as Islamophobia and anyone who dares to raise questions about the nearly constant acts of Jihad going on increasingly around the world today is labeled a €œLoon.

What does Bell provide as way of evidence for the claim that Loonwatch opposes “any criticism of the Koran or of violent Jihad?” Does he provide quotes or statements from Loonwatch articles or writers? You know, facts?

The answer is a glaring and resounding, NO.

Instead, Eric relies on guesswork. According to him Loonwatch doesn’t speak out against “Islamic Terrorism,” that, to him, is enough to declare that it is “in fact a terrorist spin control network.”

A pretty bold and probably libelous claim when measured next to the absence of facts Bell provides.

When one takes a look at the mission statement of Loonwatch, it becomes clear that their focus is on challenging bigotry against Muslims,

Loonwatch.com is a blogzine run by a motley group of hate-allergic bloggers to monitor and expose the web€™s plethora of anti-Muslim loons, wackos, and conspiracy theorists.

What’s wrong with that? As many commenters pointed out to Bell there are “thousands” of sites tracking “terrorism” and “jihad.” In fact there is a whole “Terrorism Industry” that is in existence feeding off of the fear of “Islamic Terrorism,” to make sure that Americans have a new “green” menace to replace the old “red” menace. Prof. Charles Kurzman, who has actually done empirical evidence on this topic gives us some perspective on this exaggerated threat,

As it turns out, there just aren€™t that many Muslims determined to kill us. Backed by a veritable army of fact, figures, and anecdotes, Kurzman makes a compelling case. He calculates, for example, that global Islamist terrorists have succeeded in recruiting fewer than 1 in 15,000 Muslims over the past 25 years, and fewer than 1 in 100,000 since 2001. And according to a top counterterrorism official, Al Qaeda originally planned to hit a West Coast target, too, on 9/11 but lacked the manpower to do so.

Bell seems to have a schizophrenic personality, on the one hand he defends religious liberty (such as in the case of Murfreesboro Mosque) but on the other hand he agrees with many of the irrational attacks leveled at Islam and Muslims:

1.) He conflates Radical Islam and Islamic Fundamentalism with Islam. In the comment section he made clear that he believes “Islam IS Islamic Fundamentalism.”

2.) He believes that“Islam is still in the dark ages” and that most Muslim countries are“barbaric” His evidence for this? Youtube videos and Wikipedia.

3.) He believes Muslims who are peaceful are so not because of “Islam” but in spite of Islam, as he says “Lets not confuse Muslims with Islam.” That is similar to the statement of Robert Spencer that “The only good Muslim is a bad Muslim.”

4.) He cherry picks verses, quotes them out of context, and when it is pointed out that the same could be done with other scriptures he resorts to a popular argument amongst Islamophobes; stating that while it may be true that other scriptures hold violent passages they “are rarely carried out” in contrast to Islam. There is nothing further from the truth as the website, WhatIfTheyWere Muslim.com? details quite vividly. All the crimes that are considered uniquely “Islamic” are still committed by Christians, Jews, Hindus, etc.

5.) He also casts SPLC designated hate group leader Robert Spencer in a positive light writing,

Spencer, whom I don’t see eye to eye with either entirely, presents himself in a rather rational, sober and scholarly fashion and I might add that neither he nor the other “Loons” have bombs strapped to them – only words.

Either Bell is very ignorant or he is disingenuous. Robert Spencer is not a rational person. Someone who joins a group wanting to annihilate Anatolia, who denies the genocide of Bosnians, who thinks “Obama may be a Muslim,” is neither a scholar or a rational individual.

Also where is Eric Allen Bell’s outrage when polling shows that Americans and Israelis are more likely to support the killing of innocent civilians than Muslims in every Islamic nation:

Percentage of people who said it is sometimes justifiable to target and kill civilians:

Mormon-Americans 64%
Christian-Americans 58%
Jewish-Americans 52%
Israeli Jews 52%
Palestinians* 51%
No religion/Atheists/Agnostics (U.S.A.) 43%
Nigerians* 43%
Lebanese* 38%
Spanish Muslims 31%
Muslim-Americans 21%
German Muslims 17%
French Muslims 16%
British Muslims 16%
Egyptians* 15%
Indonesians* 13%
Jordanians* 12%
Pakistanis* 5%
Turks* 4%

Now, should we likewise, per the logic of Mr. Bell, be afraid of the scary Christian Americans, and make broad sweeping generalities about Christianity? Or Jewish Americans? Or Israeli Jews?

This is just a slither of what I found wrong with Eric Allen Bell’s article. It was reliant on not only a highly dubious methodology of critique, sourced poorly, but also filled with Orientalist and prejudiced tropes that ironically were the same ones used by the anti-Mosque opponents Bell documented in Murfreesboro, TN.

Danios of Loonwatch has also posted the following response

In 2009, the Daily Kos published a positive review of our website.  So imagine my surprise whenThe American Muslim emails me a link to a recently published article on Daily Kos which is nothing short of a hatchet job against LoonWatch.  This article was authored by Eric Allen Bell and is entitled Loonwatch.com and Radical Islam.  Bell had the temerity to accuse LoonWatch of being “a radical Islamic front, covering up for terrorism”; he writes: “Loonwatch.com is in fact a terrorist spin control network.”

We would hardly bat an eye at this loony stream-of-consciousness article–Islamophobes have been accusing us of this since our site launched–except that this screed was published on the Daily Kos.  Why would a fellow progressive website take a swipe at us out of the blue?

This mystery solves itself when you look into who wrote the article.  His name is Eric Allen Bell, and he professes a soft spot for Robert Spencer, a man who was ranked by FAIR as the #2 leading Islamophobe in the country (losing out the number 1 spot to his boss, David Horowitz).  Spencer is the leader of the SIOA group, deemed by the SPLC to be a hate group.  Spencer’s organization has links to Neo-Nazi and skinhead groups in Europe.  Among other things, Robert Spencer joined a genocidal Facebook group and posted a genocidal video on his website.  This is the man that Eric Allen Bell calls “rational, sober and scholarly.”  Bell imagines some difference between  Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller even though they are close friends and colleagues-in-crime:

That explains why Bell’s article looks like something out of a loony anti-Muslim blog likeBareNakedIslamAtlasShrugs, or JihadWatch.  Bell uses the exact same talking points against us.  His main gripe seems to be why our site “ignores” the violent acts of terrorism committed by Islamic terrorists.  The answer to that is painstakingly obvious: our website’s mission statement is to document and expose Islamophobia.  To ask us why we don’t document Islamic terrorism would not be very different from asking us: why doesn’t your site talk about world hunger?  Whereas this might be a worthy topic to bring attention to, it is simply not part of our mission statement.  Surely, Bell understands that websites oftentimes specialize in one particular topic and simply do not have the resources to dedicate to every noble cause.

Bell’s accusation itself is steeped in his Islamophobia.  Imagine, for instance, if some white guy accused the NAACP of being “a black supremacist group” because they only fought racism against blacks instead of documenting violence and crime committed by blacks.  What would anyone call such a person but racist?

Eric Allen Bell tries to shield himself from accusations of bigotry by pointing out that he made some documentary about a mosque in Murfreesboro.  Yet, this would be like someone being opposed to segregated schools for black people on the one hand but on the other hand becoming absolutely livid against anyone who dared to deny that blacks are more violent than white people.  Readers can go to the racist website Stromfront to find plenty of people compiling lists of black violence and criminality just like Bell reproduced his list of Muslim violence and terrorism.

Bell argues that Muslims are more violent than people of other religions, which is in fact the exact same argument raised by–you guessed it–Robert Spencer.  My response to this is two-fold:

1) The threat of Muslim terrorism has been extremely exaggerated (in order to justify our wars in the Muslim world).  According to the FBI’s own database (available from 1980-2005), of the terrorist attacks in America less than 6% were committed by Muslims.  Readers should also refer to my May 2010 article which noted that since 9/11, there have been zero U.S. civilians killed from Islamic terrorism.  The situation is the same in Europe.  For the past several years, Europol has released an annual terrorism report, which showed that Islamic terrorism accounts for less than 1% of terrorism in Europe and has resulted in zero deaths.  In the half decade documented in these reports, the only injuries sustained from Islamic terrorism were to a security guard who “was slightly wounded.”

For the past several years, zero civilians in America and Europe have been killed by Islamic terrorism.  Yet, we are indoctrinated into thinking that Islamic terrorism represents some existential threat: you should be scared out of your wits and be losing sleep over Islamic terrorism.  This is war propaganda at its finest.  The reality is that you have a far greater chance of dying from being struck by lightning (about 67 Americans die of lightning every year) than being killed by an Islamic extremist (a whopping average of zero).

When confronted by this reality check, Islamophobes are quick to shift gears and insist that they are talking about Islamic terrorism in the “rest of the world.”  Yet, almost all of this Islamic terrorism takes place in countries that have been bombed, invaded, and occupied by the United States or its proxy Israel.  (India is the notable exception, although it should be noted that India has sustained a brutal occupation of Kashmir for many decades.)  Iraq currently leads the list.  If you look at Iraq before we started dropping bombs on it, Islamic terrorism was virtually non-existent in that country.  Is it Islam then that is to blame for this terrorism or our bombing, invasion, and occupation?

2) The type of terrorism that is included in such comparisons is what I call Amateur Terrorism (strapping a bomb on yourself to injure a security guard and kill yourself); it excludes the greater form of terrorism: Professional Terrorism (carpet-bombing an entire civilian population).  This is the violence committed by nation-states.  The United States and Israel are guilty of committing, in the words of the Nuremberg trial, “the supreme international crime”: waging wars of aggression.  When this form of violence is factored in, then the argument that Muslims are more violent seems untenable.  As Prof. Steven Walt noted, Americans have killed anywhere from 30 to 100 times as many Muslims as Muslims have killed Americans.  

I find it difficult to lecture Muslims about how violent they are when my own government, with the backing of its people, have killed so many Muslims (and continue to do so on a daily basis).

In a way, our violence is worse than theirs, because ours is sanctioned by us: our duly elected members of government are the ones who launch these wars, with our blessing and support.  It is our uniformed soldiers who kill those Muslims.  Meanwhile, Al-Qaeda and such groups operate without governmental authority, without any sanction or permission from the Muslim population.  In fact, the Muslim population is often the victim of such terrorist groups.

Since the United States was founded in 1776, she has been at war during 214 out of her 235 calendar years, or 91% of her existence. Meanwhile, the country in the Muslim world we vilify the most, Iran, has not initiated a war since 1795, over 200 years ago.  (It was, however, attacked by its neighbor with the aid and encouragement of the United States.) Who is the more violent one again?

Here is a map of the Greater Middle East, showing countries that the U.S. has bombed or has bases in:

Meanwhile, the modern state of Iran has never attacked any of its neighbors or any other country in the region (or world).  But, Eric Allen Bell wants us to say that Islam and Muslims are the violent ones?

These two points constitute my argument, and if Eric Allen Bell wants to produce something more than a screed that belongs on Pamela Geller’s AtlasShrugs, that’s what he needs to refute.

One should also recognize that I am making a radically different claim than the Islamophobes when I point to American aggression.  There is nothing intrinsically different between the United States and the rest of the world that makes it more violent–or, in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”–other than the fact that it has the power to do so.  I truly believe that absolute power corrupts absolutely: those vested with great power almost invariably abuse it, and it is for this reason that they must be held to account the most.

Compared to the United States, the forces of Radical Islam have virtually no power.  Since 9/11–more than a decade ago–the collective strength and resources of the “worldwide jihad” have been unable to kill a single civilian on American soil.  That’s how powerful they are.  In the grand scheme of things, Islamic terrorism is a nuisance of modern day existence, a threat akin to that of gang violence or drug cartels–it is not an existential military threat as it is made out to be.

There is no doubt that Radical Islam is repugnant to the senses and must be intellectually fought.  But attacking all of Islam and Muslims in general–targeting their religion and labeling Islam as uniquely violent–is the most counter-productive way of doing so.  More than that, it’s intellectually dishonest and morally bankrupt.

Daily Kos and Glenn Greenwald on LoonWatch

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , on January 18, 2012 by loonwatch
Eric Allen Bell
Eric Allen Bell

In 2009, the Daily Kos published a positive review of our website.  So imagine my surprise when The American Muslim emails me a link to a recently published article on Daily Kos which is nothing short of a hatchet job against LoonWatch.  This article was authored by Eric Allen Bell and is entitled Loonwatch.com and Radical Islam.  Bell had the temerity to accuse LoonWatch of being “a radical Islamic front, covering up for terrorism”; he writes: “Loonwatch.com is in fact a terrorist spin control network.”

We would hardly bat an eye at this loony stream-of-consciousness article–Islamophobes have been accusing us of this since our site launched–except that this screed was published on the Daily Kos.  Why would a fellow progressive website take a swipe at us out of the blue?

This mystery solves itself when you look into who wrote the article.  His name is Eric Allen Bell, and he professes a soft spot for Robert Spencer, a man who was ranked by FAIR as the #2 leading Islamophobe in the country (losing out the number 1 spot to his boss, David Horowitz).  Spencer is the leader of the SIOA group, deemed by the SPLC to be a hate group.  Spencer’s organization has links to Neo-Nazi and skinhead groups in Europe.  Among other things, Robert Spencer joined a genocidal Facebook group and posted a genocidal video on his website.  This is the man that Eric Allen Bell calls “rational, sober and scholarly.”  Bell imagines some difference between  Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller even though they are close friends and colleagues-in-crime:

Robert Spencer with loon Pamela Geller

That explains why Bell’s article looks like something out of a loony anti-Muslim blog like BareNakedIslam, AtlasShrugs, or JihadWatch.  Bell uses the exact same talking points against us.  His main gripe seems to be why our site “ignores” the violent acts of terrorism committed by Islamic terrorists.  The answer to that is painstakingly obvious: our website’s mission statement is to document and expose Islamophobia.  To ask us why we don’t document Islamic terrorism would not be very different from asking us: why doesn’t your site talk about world hunger?  Whereas this might be a worthy topic to bring attention to, it is simply not part of our mission statement.  Surely, Bell understands that websites oftentimes specialize in one particular topic and simply do not have the resources to dedicate to every noble cause.

Bell’s accusation itself is steeped in his Islamophobia.  Imagine, for instance, if some white guy accused the NAACP of being “a black supremacist group” because they only fought racism against blacks instead of documenting violence and crime committed by blacks.  What would anyone call such a person but racist?

Eric Allen Bell tries to shield himself from accusations of bigotry by pointing out that he made some documentary about a mosque in Murfreesboro.  Yet, this would be like someone being opposed to segregated schools for black people on the one hand but on the other hand becoming absolutely livid against anyone who dared to deny that blacks are more violent than white people.  Readers can go to the racist website Stromfront to find plenty of people compiling lists of black violence and criminality just like Bell reproduced his list of Muslim violence and terrorism.

Bell argues that Muslims are more violent than people of other religions, which is in fact the exact same argument raised by–you guessed it–Robert Spencer.  My response to this is two-fold:

1) The threat of Muslim terrorism has been extremely exaggerated (in order to justify our wars in the Muslim world).  According to the FBI’s own database (available from 1980-2005), of the terrorist attacks in America less than 6% were committed by Muslims.  Readers should also refer to my May 2010 article which noted that since 9/11, there have been zero U.S. civilians killed from Islamic terrorism.  The situation is the same in Europe.  For the past several years, Europol has released an annual terrorism report, which showed that Islamic terrorism accounts for less than 1% of terrorism in Europe and has resulted in zero deaths.  In the half decade documented in these reports, the only injuries sustained from Islamic terrorism were to a security guard who “was slightly wounded.”

For the past several years, zero civilians in America and Europe have been killed by Islamic terrorism.  Yet, we are indoctrinated into thinking that Islamic terrorism represents some existential threat: you should be scared out of your wits and be losing sleep over Islamic terrorism.  This is war propaganda at its finest.  The reality is that you have a far greater chance of dying from being struck by lightning (about 67 Americans die of lightning every year) than being killed by an Islamic extremist (a whopping average of zero).

When confronted by this reality check, Islamophobes are quick to shift gears and insist that they are talking about Islamic terrorism in the “rest of the world.”  Yet, almost all of this Islamic terrorism takes place in countries that have been bombed, invaded, and occupied by the United States or its proxy Israel.  (India is the notable exception, although it should be noted that India has sustained a brutal occupation of Kashmir for many decades.)  Iraq currently leads the list.  If you look at Iraq before we started dropping bombs on it, Islamic terrorism was virtually non-existent in that country.  Is it Islam then that is to blame for this terrorism or our bombing, invasion, and occupation?

2) The type of terrorism that is included in such comparisons is what I call Amateur Terrorism (strapping a bomb on yourself to injure a security guard and kill yourself); it excludes the greater form of terrorism: Professional Terrorism (carpet-bombing an entire civilian population).  This is the violence committed by nation-states.  The United States and Israel are guilty of committing, in the words of the Nuremberg trial, “the supreme international crime”: waging wars of aggression.  When this form of violence is factored in, then the argument that Muslims are more violent seems untenable.  As Prof. Steven Walt noted, Americans have killed anywhere from 30 to 100 times as many Muslims as Muslims have killed Americans.  

I find it difficult to lecture Muslims about how violent they are when my own government, with the backing of the American people, has killed so many Muslims (and continues to do so on a daily basis).

In a way, our violence is worse than theirs, because ours is sanctioned by us: our duly elected members of government are the ones who launch these wars, with our blessing and support.  It is our uniformed soldiers who kill those Muslims.  Meanwhile, Al-Qaeda and such groups operate without governmental authority, without any sanction or permission from the Muslim population.  In fact, the Muslim population is often the victim of such terrorist groups.

Since the United States was founded in 1776, she has been at war during 214 out of her 235 calendar years, or 91% of her existence. Meanwhile, the country in the Muslim world we vilify the most, Iran, has not initiated a war since 1795, over 200 years ago.  (It was, however, attacked by its neighbor with the aid and encouragement of the United States.) Who is the more violent one again?

Here is a map of the Greater Middle East, showing countries that the U.S. has bombed or has bases in:

Meanwhile, the modern state of Iran has never attacked any of its neighbors or any other country in the region (or world).  But, Eric Allen Bell wants us to say that Islam and Muslims are the violent ones?

These two points constitute my argument, and if Eric Allen Bell wants to produce something more than a screed that belongs on Pamela Geller’s AtlasShrugs, that’s what he needs to refute.

One should also recognize that I am making a radically different claim than the Islamophobes when I point to American aggression.  There is nothing intrinsically different between the United States and the rest of the world that makes it more violent–or, in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”–other than the fact that it has the power to do so.  I truly believe that absolute power corrupts absolutely: those vested with great power almost invariably abuse it, and it is for this reason that they must be held to account the most.

Compared to the United States, the forces of Radical Islam have virtually no power.  Since 9/11–more than a decade ago–the collective strength and resources of the “worldwide jihad” have been unable to kill a single civilian on American soil.  That’s how powerful they are.  In the grand scheme of things, Islamic terrorism is a nuisance of modern day existence, a threat akin to that of gang violence or drug cartels–it is not an existential military threat as it is made out to be.

There is no doubt that Radical Islam is repugnant to the senses and must be intellectually fought.  But attacking all of Islam and Muslims in general–targeting their religion and labeling Islam as uniquely violent–is the most counter-productive way of doing so.  More than that, it’s intellectually dishonest and morally bankrupt.

*  *  *  *  *

There was some silver lining to Eric Allen Bell’s article.  Glenn Greenwald emailed me with the following response to Bell’s post (reproduced with his permission):

Danios- That post is disgusting, but it’s important to distinguish between what “Daily Kos” has written (which is basically the front-page writers) and what a diarist has written (which is basically the equivalent of a blog comment, since anyone can write one, and is not at all attributable to the site itself).

This post is by a diarist – he has no affiliation with Daily Kos, except that he’s posting there – and my guess is that it won’t be promoted to the front page through recommendations and most commenters will be critical.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge GG fan.  I wake up every day to read his column with my breakfast and check his blog for updates throughout the day.  There is no writer or political thinker I respect more than him.  So when Glenn sent me a follow-up email saying “you guys are doing great work”, you can imagine how elated I was.

Who the heck cares what some Eric Allen Bell-nobody thinks when the intellectual giant known as Glenn Greenwald has such positive words to say about us?

In any case, Glenn was absolutely right about Bell not being representative of the Daily Kos: another Daily Kos diarist, Devon Moore, posted an article against Bell and in support of LoonWatch, entitled Daily Kos Being Used to Further Classic Right-Wing Propaganda Against Loonwatch.

It’s good to see another Daily Kos diarist respond to Eric Allen Bell, but the question remains: what is such a hate-mongering bigot doing on a site like the Daily Kos?  I think it’s time to clean house, just like former AIPAC operative Josh Block was cleansed from the progressive system: if Block was given the boot for libeling others as “anti-Semites”, shouldn’t Bell be dropped for wrongfully calling others “jihadists”?  Send the Daily Kos a message to dump this anti-Muslim bigot by clicking here.

*  *  *  *  *

In other news, it seems we are closer than ever to seeing the debate between Robert Spencer and myself actually come to fruition.  I’ll keep you posted.

Update I:

The American Muslim’s Sheila Musaji posted a good article on the subject.  She notes that Eric Allen Bell is an atheist who dislikes all religion, not just Islam.  However, it’s important to point out that he has a special hatred for Islam and Muslims, who he believes are uniquely violent and intolerant compared to all the other peoples of the world.  This is why he would still be categorized as an Islamophobe in my book.  On the other hand, I don’t have any problem with atheists who dislike all religions; I do, however, have a problem with atheists who specifically target one religious community over others, especially if that community happens to be the most vulnerable in this country.  This of course was my problem with Christopher Hitchens.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Robert Spencer: Loonwatch, One-half of the Leftist-Mooslim Alliance

Posted in Feature, Loon Blogs, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2009 by loonwatch
Robert Spencer with loon Pamela Geller
Robert Spencer with loon Pamela Geller

Loonwatchers, it seems the big bad blogger himself, Robert Spencer, is beginning to worry about our little blog over on Jihad Watch (hat tip: Mallorcaman). In a blog titled, Daily Kos Sides with Islamic Supremacists Who Want to Extinguish Free Speech and Oppress Women and Non-Muslims (how many stereotypes can you fit in a single title?), Spencer targets Daily Kos contributor Devon Moore who has written comments on our site previously and has linked to us on his site.

Spencer’s post is interesting both for what Spencer writes as well as the comments which end up proving the depths to which Spencer has sunk. I don’t know if Spencer is giddy at the mere fact that he received some mention on Daily Kos or if he is truly fuming in his traditional, up-tight and conspiratorial way that “stealth jihad” is being perpetuated under the guise of some dreaded and fanciful “leftist-Mooslim” alliance. There is probably an element of both in his paranoia, but as in his attempt to pick a fight with Bassiouni it looks as though it is more of the conspiracy card.

The title itself is quite perplexing and makes bold the fact that Spencer has a penchant not only for melodrama (to stroke his ego) but also misinformation. Whenever anyone disagrees with Spencer or disputes his claims (and the list of people is ever increasing) he takes it personally, and reacts with violently worded blog posts that sling innuendo to-and-fro.

The question is: why is it that Spencer can dish out the criticism but is unable to take it? Is it the hallmark of an objective scholar to think that he or she is above any criticism? That everyone outside of the choir he sings to is wrong and part of some Leftist-Mooslim alliance? The ALA is wrong? Muslim scholar and International Law expert Cherif Bassiouni is wrong? Chicago activist Ahmed Rehab is wrong? Islamic scholar Carl Ernst is wrong? Islamic scholar John Esposito is wrong? Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is wrong? Religious scholar Karen Armstrong is wrong? Islamic scholar Khaleel Mohammed is wrong? Academic historian Ivan Jablonka is wrong? Journalist and neo-Con Stephen Shwartz is wrong? Conservative ex-boyfriend of Ann Coulter Dinesh D’Souza is wrong? Spencer’s former friend Charles Johnson is wrong? Blogger and columnist for Commentary Magazine Kejda Gjermani is wrong? The list goes on and on.

Of course, the plain truth is that all of these diverse individuals are neither wrong or incorrect but they are on to something: Spencer is not an objective scholar, he is not in fact very scholarly, in fact he traffics in some of the oldest and well abused stereotypes about Islam and Muslims out there, while all at the same time putting up a front that he is objective and part of the elite vanguard safe-guarding Western values such as freedom of religion and free speech. Continue reading