Archive for Republican

Nathan Lean: The Islamophobia Industry Strikes in Kansas

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on June 2, 2012 by loonwatch

Our friend Nathan Lean recently wrote on the Islamophobia network’s efforts in Kansas.

(Nathan also has a new book out, ‘The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims.’ Check it out!)

The Islamophobia Industry Strikes in Kansas

by Nathan Lean (Huffington Post)

Just like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, Republican Governor Sam Brownback had a feeling he was not in Kansas anymore. At least not the Kansas that he once knew. His Sunflower State was teeming with unfamiliar creatures and though not tin-men or scarecrows or wicked witches, they were nonetheless outsiders and were apparently so unsettling that a law was required to prevent their influence: They were Muslims.

Last Friday, Brownback signed a bill prohibiting local courts from relying on sharia, or Islamic law, as well as other non-U.S. laws when making decisions. The fact that such a thing had never occurred in the Midwestern wheat capital did not matter. The bill was approved in a landslide vote: 33-1 in the Senate and 120-0 in the House.

Like other similar bills in 20 states, including recently enacted laws in Arizona, Louisiana and Tennessee, the blueprint for the controversial Kansas legislation comes from a familiar and influential source: a growing right-wing network of anti-Muslim fear mongers. They are the Islamophobia industry and laws such as this are hallmark achievements in their quest to frighten the American population about a minority group they view with great suspicion and scorn.

The deluge of anti-Muslim legislation that has unnecessarily clogged the corridors of power (and the minds of otherwise rational politicians) can be traced back to David Yerushalmi, a 57-year-old Hasidic Jew with a library’s worth of controversial statements about African Americans, fellow Jews and immigrants. A shadow agent of this fear industry, Yerushalmi has worked behind the scenes since 2001 to ratchet up an image of Islam and Muslims that is heavy on sensationalism and gore and short on context and fact. It was his organization, the Society of Americans for National Existence (with the ironic acronym SANE) that once suggested that the U.S government should declare a war on the Muslim community, that Muslims should not be granted entry visas to the U.S., and that practicing Islam should be a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The Kansas law, and the majority of the bills that were brought before state congresses, are based on a single piece of blueprint legislation crafted by Yerushalmi titled “American Laws for American Courts.” Along with former Reagan official Frank Gaffney, who is famous for suggesting that Barack Obama is a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Yerushalmi marketed the plan to lawmakers throughout the country, tapping into Tea Party bases and Republican activist groups such as ACT For America that welcomed the opportunity to institutionalize discrimination in their respective states.

In drumming up support for Kansas’s ban, bloggers Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller spread the word to their online bases through “Action Alerts” that warned of “Islamic supremacists” who were “seeking to impose the Sharia on non-Muslims.” They urged their supporters to “flood [Brownback’s] Twitter” and “jam his phones” with strong support for the bill.

Spencer and Geller co-founded Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA) in 2010, an American offshoot of Stop the Islamization of Europe (SIOE), a hate group that the European Union calls a “neo-Nazi organization.” They also led the protests in 2010 to the Park51 Community Center (remember the Ground Zero Mosque?) in New York City. Yerushalmi and Gaffney serve as their legal counsel. When the Kansas bill was signed, Geller reacted with her usual flamboyance: “U Da Best,” she wrote. “What a disaster defeat for Hamas-CAIR,” she added.

Supporters of the Kansas law point to the fact that it does not explicitly mention sharia and that it only refers to “foreign legal codes.” But it is clear from the people who are behind this newest manifestation of state-sanctioned Islamophobia that the statute is hardly intended to be an equal opportunity regulator. In fact, after court’s ruled last year that Oklahoma’s sharia ban violated the establishment clause of the Constitution’s First Amendment, Yerushalmi took note of the bill’s language and wiped out language that could be interpreted as targeting Muslims specifically. This growing network operates on slyness and persistence.

The Islamophobia industry is a dangerous and influential group. They have successfully attached anti-Muslim sentiment to the banner of right-wing populism and it is fast becoming identical to anti-Semitism and other such structural racisms that have the potential to spill out into the ghastly displays of violence. The Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik, for example, listed Spencer, Geller and Gaffney multiple times in the manifesto that served as a guidebook for his massacre in July 2011. This network clings to the notion that foreign is bad and that Muslims are not a natural part of America’s national fabric. They believe that they must not only be chastised and harassed but that local government’s should discriminate against them on the basis of their religion and foreign systems of order that the everyday, law-abiding, peace-loving Muslims of America don’t even follow to begin with.

There is no sharia law in Kansas. There is no sharia law anywhere in the United States. What there is, though, is a hateful band of anti-pluralists who take great joy (and make great money) in cleaving society into various fragments that war with one another. It is time to shine a bright and damning light on the Islamophobia industry.

Nathan Lean is the Editor-In-Chief of AslanMedia.com. He is the co-author of ‘Iran, Israel, and the United States’ (2010) and the author of ‘The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims.’ Visit him online at www.nathanlean.com and follow him on Twitter at @nathanlean.

Aljazeera: Fault Lines-Politics, Religion and the Tea Party

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2011 by loonwatch

A must see documentary on AlJazeera English, dealing with the contemporary influence of Far Right Christianity on American politics. It gets really interesting from the 18:00 mark.

Fault Lines-Politics, Religion and the Tea Party

Rick Perry: Hamas And Hezbollah Working In Mexico

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2011 by loonwatch

If you didn’t know by now, Hamas and Hezbollah hablan mucho Español. If you also didn’t know by now, GOP candidates like Rick Perry are retrying to combine the fear of immigrants and Mooslims taking over the country. Apparently, it is a tried and true method to win the GOP candidacy.

Rick Perry: Hamas And Hezbollah Working In Mexico

Texas Gov. Rick Perry warned viewers of CNN’s Republican debate on Tuesday that Hamas and Hezbollah were working out of Mexico. Perry’s answer came in response to a question about securing the southern border.

“We’re seeing countries start to come in and infiltrate. We know that Hamas and Hezbollah are working in Mexico as well as Iran with their ploy to come into the United States,” Perry said.

He continued: We know that Hugo Chavez… and the Iranian government has one of the largest — I think their largest embassy in the world is in Venezuela. So the idea that we need to have border security with the United States and Mexico is paramount to the entire western hemisphere.”

Herman Cain Would Require Muslim Appointees To Take A Special Loyalty Oath

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2011 by loonwatch

(cross-posted from ThinkProgress)

By Scott Keyes on Jun 8, 2011 at 6:41 pm

In March, formers Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain burst onto the presidential scene when he told ThinkProgress that he “will not” appoint Muslims in his administration.

Under intense pressure, Cain’s campaign walked back the candidate’s words, saying that he would appoint “any person for a position based on merit.” However, the next week, Cain hedged his retraction, telling the Orlando Sun Sentinel that he would only appoint a Muslim who disavowed Sharia law, but that “he’s unaware of any Muslim who’d be willing to make such a disavowal.”

On the Glenn Beck Show today, the host asked the Georgia Republican about his refusal to appoint Muslims. Cain told Beck that he would be willing to appoint a Muslim only “if they can prove to me that they’re putting the Constitution of the United States first.” Beck followed up by asking if he was calling for “some loyalty proof” for Muslims. Cain said, “Yes, to the Constitution of the United States of America.” When Beck then asked “Would you do that to a Catholic or would you do that to a Mormon?” Cain told the host, “Nope, I wouldn’t.”:

BECK: You said you would not appoint a Muslim to anybody in your administration.

CAIN: The exact language was when I was asked, “would you be comfortable with a Muslim in your cabinet?” And I said, “no, I would not be comfortable.” I didn’t say I wouldn’t appoint one because if they can prove to me that they’re putting the Constitution of the United States first then they would be a candidate just like everybody else. My entire career, I’ve hired good people, great people, regardless of their religious orientation.

BECK: So wait a minute. Are you saying that Muslims have to prove their, that there has to be some loyalty proof?

CAIN: Yes, to the Constitution of the United States of America.

BECK: Would you do that to a Catholic or would you do that to a Mormon?

CAIN: Nope, I wouldn’t. Because there is a greater dangerous part of the Muslim faith than there is in these other religions. I know that there are some Muslims who talk about, “but we are a peaceful religion.” And I’m sure that there are some peace-loving Muslims.

Watch it:

Cain’s call for a loyalty oath targeted at a specific segment of the population is a historical relic that ought to be confined to the past. Forcing a subset of Americans to prove their loyalty to the United States was as wrong during the era of McCarthyism as it is today.

Cain’s requirement that Muslim nominees take a loyalty oath while Catholics and Mormons would be exempted is not only bigoted, it’s also ironic considering that the same suspicion was once levied at Catholics. During the 1960 presidential election, anti-Catholic sentiment held that if then-Sen. John F. Kennedy were elected president, his Catholic faith would make him beholden to the Pope rather than the United States. Such views were abhorrent when directed at Catholics 50 years ago, and they are abhorrent when directed at Muslims today.

Three months ago, ThinkProgress wrote, “As the Republican presidential nomination process begins, one GOP candidate is making a name for himself as the Islamophobia candidate: Herman Cain.” Unfortunately, we are seeing just how true that prediction was.

Pastor who gave controversial Senate prayer bought anti-Muslim ads

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 23, 2011 by loonwatch

There is no problem with anyone calling to their Faith, or trying to win converts, that is part of Freedom of Religion. Unfortunately both Rep. Arlon Linder and Pastor Campbell have crossed the boundaries of interfaith harmony and peace in to the territory of bigotry. Imagine if this were a Muslim Imam and Rep. Keith Ellison saying such words, you would never hear the end of it from Islamophobes. We would be inundated with threats that our Constitution was being desecrated and that the evil Mooslims were trying to take over and must be stopped.

Pastor who gave controversial Senate prayer bought anti-Muslim ads

By Andy Birkey

The Associated Press reports that a Christian prayer on the Minnesota Senate floor on Monday made non-Christian members of that body uncomfortable. Pastor Dennis Campbell’s prayer was highly Christian, as opposed to the nonsectarian prayers that were commonplace under DFL control. It’s not Campbell’s first controversy; last summer he took out ads in the St. Cloud Times that were viewed as anti-Muslim.

“We pray, lord, that you help us show reverence to the Lord Jesus Christ,” Campbell prayed. “Jesus said, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ our savior, we pray.”

That prayer sparked non-Christian members of the Senate to cry foul, the Associated Press reports.

The controversy mirrors that of one in 2000, when the Republicans last took over the Minnesota House. Previously, the DFL has allowed non-sectarian prayer in the House, but when Republicans took control, many of the chamber non-Christians protested the overtly Christian prayers.

Rep. Arlon Lindner, instead of acquiescing, instead attacked those members.

“You know, we’re told there’s one God and one mediator between God and man. That man is Jesus Christ. And most of us here are Christians. And we shouldn’t be left not able to pray in the name of our God… And if you don’t like it, you may have to like it. Or just don’t come. I don’t come sometimes for some prayers here… We have that privilege, and you need to exercise it. But don’t impose your irreligious left views on me.”

Following that statement, an ethics complaint was filed against Lindner, one of many in his career in the Minnesota Legislature.

Pastor Campbell came under fire for religious intolerance last summer when his church took out ads in the St. Cloud Times.

“What happens when Moslems take over a nation?” asks Campbell in the ad. “They will destroy the constitution and force the Moslem religion on the society, take freedom of religion away, and they will persecute all other religions.”

The ad also said, “Moslems seek to influence a nation by immigration, reproduction, education, the government, illegal drugs and by supporting the gay agenda.”

He later said he is not a racist and that he was simply trying to convert Muslims to Christianity.

Peter King’s “Muslim Hearings” are Political Theater to Target Muslims

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2011 by loonwatch

Loonwatch was live blogging the controversial (anti)-Muslim Hearings being chaired by bigoted ex-IRA terrorist supporter Peter King. It was a circus. It devolved along partisan lines with Republicans predictably falling behind the rhetoric and narrative of Peter King. Democratic Congressmen/women issued strong rebukes: Rep. Sheila J. Lee, Rep. Al Green, Rep. Keith Ellison, Rep. Andre Carson, Rep. Laura Richardson, Rep. Sanchez, and others delivered the message home that these Hearings were nothing more than political theater meant to castigate and intimidate a minority group and most importantly they were bereft of facts and therefore unbeneficial.

The leading witnesses for King were non-experts, Zuhdi Jasser, AbdiRizak Bihi and Melvin Bledsoe, all of these individuals were bereft of any credentials or expertise in the field of radicalization, terrorism or extremism. Zuhdi Jasser is considered an apologist for Neo-Cons and is viewed with suspicion amongst American Muslims for his close association with Islamophobes and war-mongerers. AbdiRizak was incomprehensible at times and much of what he and Bledsoe said were anecdotal and not factual evidence.

King began the hearings with what can only be classified as a bigoted comment, he said, “Moderate leadership must emerge from the Muslim community.” He said this to set up a straw man argument for what would become a recurring attack on CAIR, almost making it into a hearing about CAIR.

After getting its name wrong, calling it the “Committee of American Islamic Relations,” he and other Congressmen labeled CAIR a Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood group. This is the usual trope brought forth by Right-wingers and anti-Muslims such as Robert Spencer and co., the best response came from Sheriff Lee Baca (one of the anti-Loons of 2010) when he said, ‘If CAIR is this terrorist group or has terrorist links then why hasn’t the FBI prosecuted them? Why haven’t they charged them? They wouldn’t be around if they were terrorist or terrorist sympathizers.’

Some highlights included:

Keith Ellison made three important points: 1.) Security is important to all American Muslims, 2.) Hearings threaten our security and 3.) We need increased engagement with Muslims.

Ellison also got quite emotional while mentioning the story of a Muslim first responder who died saving people but was the victim of a smear campaign by Islamophobes who attempted to link him to the 9/11 attacks.

Andre Carson brought up an excellent point about the fact that cooperation between law enforcement and communities such as the American Muslim community is endangered by the backdoor actions and methodologies of  organizations such as the FBI when they send agent provocateurs into Muslim mosques. Such actions cause distrust and engender fear that Muslims’ civil rights and liberties are being violated. One really only has to look at the example in California of the criminal Craig Montielh who was later arrested and confessed that he was sent by the FBI on a fishing expedition to entrap Muslims.

There were also other quite interesting WTF moments: Such as when Peter King mentioned Kim Kardashian and CAIR in the same sentence. Or when non-expert witness Melvin Bledsoe told Rep. Al Green “you don’t know what these hearings are about.” There was also the earlier moment when Peter King denied making the comment that “there are too many mosques in America.” A blatant falsity.

We will have more in depth coverage but it is safe to say that American Muslims are in for a rocky Islamophobic time with these hearings.

Shocking anti-Muslim Hate Video in Orange County, California

Posted in Feature, Loon Pastors, Loon Politics, Loon Rabbis, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2011 by loonwatch

A shocking and vitriolic display of hate against Muslims attending a charity event for battered women in Yorba Linda, California. They are abused with calls of “Go home,” and “terrorist,” little children are subjected to it as well. A Villa Park Councilwoman named Deborah Pauly echoes the rhetoric ofPamela Geller and even calls for the murder of participants (who she labels “Terrorists”) at the charity event. In an ironic moment she justified her statements by saying, “I don’t even care, I don’t even care if you think I’m crazy anymore.” Ummm, yeah…someone get her a straight jacket because she might not care but we do.

There was also somebody sounding a Shofar (Ram’s horn) which while being used for prayer was also used in Biblical Times to call to War, and in this context it seems quite clear that it is being used as a call to war and intimidation. Why the hell would someone bring a shofar to protest a Muslim charity event?

Do we need any clearer evidence that Islamophobia exists?:

http://www.youtube.com/e/e6t6d9YBuFM

These hatemongers are ACT! for America (we’ve been exposing them as a hate group for quite some time) and the ideological children of Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller and David Horowitz.

We Need a Campaign to Expose These Politicians and Question Their Participation in this Hate-Fest:

Ask Congressman Gary Miller why he participated in this event, ask him to distance himself from these goons and condemn them,

Washington, DC
Write or visit:
2349 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Phone: 202-225-3201
Fax: 202-226-6962

Hours: Monday through Friday, 9:00am to 5:30pm Eastern, or anytime the House is in session (Current House Floor Proceedings).  Closed federal holidays.

Brea, CA
Write or visit:
1800 E. Lambert Road
Suite 150
Brea, CA 92821

Phone: 714-257-1142
Fax: 714-257-9242

Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 6:00pm Pacific.  Closed federal holidays.

Mission Viejo, CA
Write or visit:
200 Civic Center
Mission Viejo, CA 92691

Phone: 949-470-8484

Hours: Second and fourth Tuesday of each month, 9:00am to 5:00pm Pacific.  Closed federal holidays.

Residents of California’s 42nd Congressional District can send me an email by first entering their zip code below. If you’re unsure of your congressional representative, visit www.house.gov/writerep.

Ed Royce was also at the event espousing strong nativist sentiments and sounding very Geert Wilders-ish by decrying “multi-culturalism.” Message to Ed, “This isn’t Europe buddy.”

Contact him:

DISTRICT OFFICE
1110 E. Chapman Ave, Suite 207
Orange, CA 92866
T (714) 744-4130 F (714) 744-4056

WASHINGTON, DC OFFICE
2185 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
T (202) 225-4111

Deborah “Don’t care if I’am crazy” Pauly can be contacted at dpauly@villapark.org.

 

Exclusive: Frank Gaffney Was Barred From Participating In CPAC, So He Invented A Reason To ‘Boycott’ It

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2011 by loonwatch
Frank Gaffney

ThinkProgress has the scoop.

Exclusive: Frank Gaffney Was Barred From Participating In CPAC, So He Invented A Reason To ‘Boycott’ It

(ThinkProgress)

Frank Gaffney has been a leading figure in the neoconservative movement for over two decades, having served in the Reagan Pentagon and founded a national security think tank. But Gaffney was absent from the panels and podiums at the year’s biggest conservative conference, CPAC, despite having spoken at the annual event held this weekend for the past 15 years. Gaffney had vowed to boycott the conference this year because, he claimed, it had been infiltrated by Islamic extremists. Specifically, he pointed to Grover Norquist, the influential anti-tax activist, and Suhail Kahn, who directed Muslims outreach efforts for the Bush White House. He accuses the two of being moles for the Muslim Brotherhood.

However, ThinkProgress has learned that Gaffney was actually prohibited from participating in CPAC — disinvited from speaking this year by conference organizers fed up with his increasingly vicious attacks on fellow conservative leaders. Indeed, Gaffney appears to have invented the entire theory about the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrating CPAC as a pretext to explain his absence from the event.

A source close to conference organizers told ThinkProgress that Gaffney was “specifically not to be invited” to speak at the conference this year because CPAC Chairman David Keene and other conservatives were “sick of him” attacking other conservatives. “The whole boycott thing was just to save face,” the source said. (Gaffney did show up to CPAC to conduct some interviews, including one with ThinkProgress, but did not participate in any official capacity).

Keene confirmed to ThinkProgress that “we weren’t going to invite him to speak this year,” but said, “we didn’t announce or tell him that.” In a statement provided by a spokesperson, Keene had some strong words for Gaffney, saying he has become “obsessed with his weird belief that anyone who doesn’t agree with him on everything all the time” is either “ignorant” or “dupes of the nation’s enemies” (full statement after the jump):

Having said that, we didn’t announce or tell him that we weren’t going to invite him to speak this year. We covered the issues in which he is interested (and which interest many of our registrants) and we did manage to do so without him. I do know that he attended CPAC and made his views known to as many as would listen through the talk shows on radio row.

The simple fact is that while Frank Gaffney did yeoman work on issues like missile defense in years passed, he has become personally and tiresomely obsessed with his weird belief that anyone who doesn’t agree with him on everything all the time or treat him with the respect and deference he believes is his due, must be either ignorant of the dangers we face or, in extreme case, dupes of the nation’s enemies.

The CPAC issue is just part of “a larger pattern” with Gaffney that goes back several years, the source told ThinkProgress. Since Gaffney began his public attacks on Norquist and Kahn shortly after September 11th, he has allegedly been reprimanded by a number of prominent conservatives or his attacks, such as the leadership of the secretive Council for National Policy and the late Paul Weyrich, a co-founder of the Heritage Foundation. Several years ago, he also became “the only person to have ever been kicked out” of Norquist’s famousWednesday Meeting strategy sessions with conservative leaders. Gaffney and Norquist used to be friends and sit next to each other at the well-attended gatherings, the source said, but Noquist barred Gaffney “in writing” several years ago, sending a letter announcing Gaffney’s exile to over 100 regular attendees.

The theory that the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated the conservative movement is ridiculous on its face, but it now seems clear that is was merely a convenient fabrication to protect Gaffney’s ego. Nonetheless, Gaffney’s invention has taken hold in the paranoid right. Conservative blogger Pam Geller, who has close ties to Gaffney, pushed the theory at CPAC while Fox News host Glenn Beck advanced it on his radio show today. A CPAC panel involving Kahn even devolved into an ugly shouting match Saturday.

Gaffney has “never ever tried to get the truth,” the source said, “and even if he finds the truth, he just keeps going” — “I really think he just raises so much money off this stuff that he really doesn’t care.” Indeed, Gaffney made nearly $300,000 in 2008 from his think tank, according to IRS documents. The organization, which appears to have few paid officers, brought in over $4 million in contributions that year.
Frank Gaffney has often spoken at CPAC in the past, but has never been a co-sponsor. For years he has argued that his organization hasn’t had the resources to officially participate, but that his message is so important that he should be included. Hundreds of people vie to speak at CPAC and while we don’t limit our invitations to those who are suggested by the more than a hundred participating groups, we give some priority to their suggestions and we are, frankly, rather skeptical of folks who claim that they are the only person who knows anything worthwhile on the topics we cover.

Last year, Gaffney complained because he was not given the microphone in the main ballroom and that as a consequence of his not receiving the attention he thinks he deserves, we had virtually ignored the threat of terrorism and militant Islam. This charge was made in spite of the fact that speakers from former Vice President Dick Cheney to former UN Ambassador John Bolton and perhaps a dozen other speakers addressed themselves to the issue.

It was an ironic position for him to take as at the same time he was taking it, former Congressman and ACU Chairman Mickey Edwards was charging that we paid too much attention to these issues and are, in fact, obsessed by them.

Having said that, we didn’t announce or tell him that we weren’t going to invite him to speak this year. We covered the issues in which he is interested (and which interest many of our registrants)and we did manage to do so without him. I do know that he attended CPAC and made his views known to as many as would listen through the talk shows on radio row.

The simple fact is that while Frank Gaffney did yeoman work on issues like missile defense in years passed, he has become personally and tiresomely obsessed with his weird belief that anyone who doesn’t agree with him on everything all the time or treat him with the respect and deference he believes is his due, must be either ignorant of the dangers we face or, in extreme case, dupes of the nation’s enemies.

 

Sarah Posner: Religious War Comes to CPAC

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2011 by loonwatch

CPAC really isn’t the friendliest place for Muslims to be.

Religious War Comes to CPAC

by Sarah Posner

(Nation)

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the annual three-day parade of GOP presidential hopefuls delivering paeans to God, country and capitalism, was this year embroiled in a full-scale, intra-party religious war. The conservative movement, according to a group of Islamophobic activists, has been taken over by the Muslim Brotherhood, which they claim supports Sharia, “a supremacist program that justifies the destruction of Christian churches and parishioners” and “the replacement of our constitutional republic…with a theocratic Islamic caliphate governing according to shari’ah.”

That charge came straight out of a flyer handed to me by Krista Hughes, an employee of the Center for Security Policy (CSP), whose president Frank Gaffney is one of the principal ringleaders in the rightwing propaganda campaign to strike fear in Americans’ hearts that a fifth column of Muslim extremists seeks to subvert America from within.

At CPAC, Gaffney’s chief target is Suhail Khan, a former Republican House staffer, Bush administration political appointee and current Senior Fellow at an evangelical think tank focused on religious freedom. Khan, a self-described devout Muslim who serves on the board of the American Conservative Union, CPAC’s organizer, is a conservative through and through. Raised in the San Francisco Bay area, he told me the atmosphere at UC Berkeley, where he attended college, turned him off and led him to his current political persuasion. But Khan’s conservative cred is of no moment to Gaffney, who has waged war against him as well as conservative movement icon Grover Norquist, also an ACU board member, because, Gaffney insists, they are both in league with anti-American Islamists.

Khan, who told me earlier this year that CPAC had shunned Gaffney because he is a “crazy bigot,” has withstood a barrage of Gaffney’s conspiratorial histrionics, which are reminiscent of the charge by John Birch Society founder Robert Welch that Dwight Eisenhower was a secret communist agent.

 

Baca Tangles with Another Republican Congressman Over Muslim Americans

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2011 by loonwatch

Sheriff Lee Baca takes on the Islamophobes again.

Baca tangles with another Republican congressman over Muslim Americans [Updated]

(LATimes)

L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca drew national headlines again Monday for tussling with a Republican congressman over Muslim Americans.

At a Washington, D.C., forum hosted by American Muslim groups, Baca challenged assertions by Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) that members of the religious minority haven’t always been cooperative with law enforcement.

Baca dismissed the congressman’s remarks, inviting him to come visit Los Angeles County, where the sheriff says Muslim Americans have been pivotal in helping to fight terrorism and other crime.

Baca, who proudly declares himself an international sheriff, found himself in a similar position last year when then-Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) said during a House Homeland Security subcommittee meeting that Baca had allied himself with a Muslim American group that engaged in “radical” speech by going to its fundraisers. Baca shot back at that description of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and told Souder he would be fine with going to more fundraisers for the group.

“If he thinks I’m afraid of what he said, I will go to 10 fundraisers because he said it,” Baca said afterward, before labeling Souder an “amateur intelligence officer.” [Updated, 6:51 p.m.: An earlier version of this post implied that Souder is still a congressman. He resigned last May for unrelated reasons.]

“The sheriff is adamant about including Muslim Americans in the community they’re a part of,” said Baca spokesman Steve Whitmore. “He’s been known to take heat for that, and he’s more than willing to do that.”

No word yet on whether King will be accepting the sheriff’s invitation to visit him in L.A. Calls to the congressman’s office Monday were not returned.

 

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: “Change the Constitution to Eliminate Muslim Rights”

Posted in Loon People, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2011 by loonwatch

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s quite radical anti-Muslim statements are not only coming to light but people are realizing that she is really a neo-Con…finally! She supports the curtailing of our civil liberties and imperial adventures to “civilize” the Mooslims.

While Josh writes an excellent piece, he nonetheless shows that he was overcome by the same beliefs of Ayaan’s “oppression and victimization” before his post that many others have been duped into believing. Ayaan’s story has in large part been proved to be false. She never witnessed war in Somalia, she was never forced into a marriage with her cousin, nor was she threatened by her relatives with an honor killing.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali should not testify before Rep. Peter King

by Josh Rosenau

I started writing this post hoping to craft an argument that Ayaan Hirsi Ali – a Somali-born atheist (formerly Muslim), a former member of the Dutch Parliament, a screenwriter threatened with assassination for helpng Theo van Gogh (who was assassinated) criticize Islam’s treatment of women, a feminist critic of Islam who has won acclaim across the political spectrum in the US and Europe – ought to avoid testifying in forthcoming hearings on Islamic terrorism out of enlightened self-interest. The hearings have never been about anything but attacking Muslims in America, continuing the crusade against the Murfreesboro mosque and the lower Manhattan Muslim community center (not at Ground Zero, not a mosque), and committee chairman King is a widely-reviled bigot.

I wanted to observe that the noted feminist would be speaking at the behest of an opponent of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. I wanted to argue that committee chairman Rep Peter King (R-NY) was a torture advocate, self-described as “most fervent fan” of the civil liberties-choking Patriot Act, and was so friendly to the IRA before they foreswore violence that he proudly called himself “the Ollie North of Ireland.” He told Politico in 2007: “We have – unfortunately – too many mosques in this country,” and surely she wouldn’t want to be associated with his regressive, repressive, illiberal agenda!

I wanted to say that no one who had survived the horrors of Somalia, who had been through enormous difficulties in escaping an arranged marriage and immigrating to a western democracy could want to support the reactionary, repressive, anti-immigrant buffoon who would be inviting her to testify. However nuanced and thoughtful her opposition to Islam, I wanted to argue, Hirsi Ali’s words would be twisted by the committee and by press coverage and used to justify scapegoating moderate American Muslims, including those who havehelped foil terrorist plots(which King denies ever happens). I wanted to push back againstThink Progress’s description of her as a reactionary on par with King.

I wanted to echo Christopher Hitchens’ summary of her views, and to say that Rep. King would not be interested in promoting this message:

Hirsi Ali calls for a pluralist democracy where all opinion is protected but where the law does not—in the name of some pseudo-tolerance—permit genital mutilation, “honor” killing, and forced marriage.

I wanted to say that King’s agenda is a monomaniacal crusade against Muslims, ignoring terrorist attacks like the bomb detected before detonation at Spokane’s Martin Luther King Day parade, the Glen Beck-inspired kooks who have launched multiple murderous attacks,anti-abortion terrorism, the attack on Rep. Giffords, Oklahoma City, the “Minutemen” vigilantes, and other decidedly non-Muslim terrorists. I wanted to say that Hirsi Ali would not possibly support such a distraction from real terrorist threats, and I wanted to note that someone who has lived in the US for longer, and has more experience with violent extremists here, would be a more effective messenger in that effort to broaden the hearing’s scope. I wanted to respect her as much as many of my favorite bloggers seem to do.

Alas, I made the mistake of researching Hirsi Ali before posting, and my lines about her nuanced and sophisticated take on the situation, my attempts to see the best in her view, were consistently foiled by her actual words. I simply cannot say that Hirsi Ali’s views would be twisted to match King’s, because I think they are already aligned.

Here, for instance, is an interview with libertarian magazine Reason‘s Rogier van Bakel:

Reason: Should we acknowledge that organized religion has sometimes sparked precisely the kinds of emancipation movements that could lift Islam into modern times? Slavery in the United States ended in part because of opposition by prominent church members and the communities they galvanized. The Polish Catholic Church helped defeat the Jaruzelski puppet regime. Do you think Islam could bring about similar social and political changes? Hirsi Ali: Only if Islam is defeated. Because right now, the political side of Islam, the power-hungry expansionist side of Islam, has become superior to the Sufis and the Ismailis and the peace-seeking Muslims. Reason: Don’t you mean defeating radical Islam? Hirsi Ali: No. Islam, period. Once it’s defeated, it can mutate into something peaceful. It’s very difficult to even talk about peace now. They’re not interested in peace. Reason: We have to crush the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims under our boot? In concrete terms, what does that mean, “defeat Islam”? Hirsi Ali: I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars. Islam can be defeated in many ways. For starters, you stop the spread of the ideology itself; at present, there are native Westerners converting to Islam, and they’re the most fanatical sometimes. There is infiltration of Islam in the schools and universities of the West. You stop that. You stop the symbol burning and the effigy burning, and you look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say, “This is a warning. We won’t accept this anymore.” There comes a moment when you crush your enemy. Reason: Militarily? Hirsi Ali: In all forms, and if you don’t do that, then you have to live with the consequence of being crushed.

(All emphasis original.)

I don’t claim to fully understand the path she’s describing, in which Islam is defeated – all of it (but not really the peaceful moderate part that apparently doesn’t exist) – then some part that wasn’t entirely defeated comes back to reform Islam’s legacy. It’s weird and self-contradictory, but let’s ascribe this to the difficulty of laying out complex ideas on the fly. Regardless of details, though, her message is clear: Islam must be defeated, crushed, with muscle, with the military, as an idea, and in the minds and bodies of 1.5 billion Muslims.

We’ve talked a bit about violent rhetoric lately, and I have a hard time seeing how the already threatened Muslim populations in the US are going to be safer when – in a House committee with CSPAN cameras and other media crowded around – a woman who looks like part of their community says that Islam is America’s enemy, that it must be “crushed,” that “you” (America? Americans?) must “flex your muscles” and “you” say “this is a warning” to Islam and to all Muslims. I think a lot of American Muslims already see their neighbors flexing muscles at them and giving these sorts of ill-defined threats. I can only see harm to my friends and neighbors coming from such rhetoric, and I’m sure it’s exactly what Peter King will want to hear.

I think he’ll also want to hear her reactionary views on civil liberties:

Hirsi Ali: The Egyptian dictatorship would not allow many radical imams to preach in Cairo, but they’re free to preach in giant mosques in London. Why do we allow it?Reason: You’re in favor of civil liberties, but applied selectively?

Hirsi Ali: No. Asking whether radical preachers ought to be allowed to operate is not hostile to the idea of civil liberties; it’s an attempt to save civil liberties. A nation like this one is based on civil liberties, and we shouldn’t allow any serious threat to them. So Muslim schools in the West, some of which are institutions of fascism that teach innocent kids that Jews are pigs and monkeys—I would say in order to preserve civil liberties, don’t allow such schools.

Reason: In Holland, you wanted to introduce a special permit system for Islamic schools, correct?

Hirsi Ali: I wanted to get rid of them. …

Reason: Well, your proposal went against Article 23 of the Dutch Constitution, which guarantees that religious movements may teach children in religious schools and says the government must pay for this if minimum standards are met. So it couldn’t be done. Would you in fact advocate that again?

Hirsi Ali: Oh, yeah.

Reason: Here in the United States, you’d advocate the abolition of—

Hirsi Ali: All Muslim schools. Close them down. Yeah, that sounds absolutist. I think 10 years ago things were different, but now the jihadi genie is out of the bottle. I’ve been saying this in Australia and in the U.K. and so on, and I get exactly the same arguments: The Constitution doesn’t allow it. But we need to ask where these constitutions came from to start with—what’s the history of Article 23 in the Netherlands, for instance? There were no Muslim schools when the constitution was written. There were no jihadists. They had no idea.

Reason: Do you believe that the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights—documents from more than 200 ago – ought to change?

Hirsi Ali: They’re not infallible. These Western constitutions are products of the Enlightenment. They’re products of reason, and reason dictates that you can only progress when you can analyze the circumstances and act accordingly. So now that we live under different conditions, the threat is different. Constitutions can be adapted, and they are, sometimes. The American Constitution has been amended a number of times. With the Dutch Constitution, I think the latest adaptation was in 1989. Constitutions are not like the Koran—nonnegotiable, never-changing.

Every reactionary movement and every anti-democratic demagogue through history has made claims like “we have to destroy the Constitution to save it” or “we must restrict civil liberties to preserve them.” And yeah, that includes Rep. King, as it includes his hero“Tailgunner Joe” McCarthy. I cannot take seriously anyone who would argue with a straight face: “Asking whether radical preachers ought to be allowed to operate is not hostile to the idea of civil liberties.” It’s the very archetypical attack on civil liberties!

Like Hitchens, I wanted to believe Hirsi Ali just wants “a pluralist democracy where all opinion is protected,” but she doesn’t. She wants a pluralistic democracy where opinions like her own are protected, and that’s a problem, because then it stops being a democracy, and it isn’t pluralistic. Her right to get up and speak in Washington can only exist when a radical imam can speak freely down the street. I wanted to believe her claim that she is not against Muslim people, but against Islam – especially against Islam as a political movement. I don’t believe that any more. Maybe she and King deserve each other.

Similarly, I wanted to believe that Hirsi Ali would not wish to lend her support to Peter King’s anti-immigrant agenda, since she herself has seen how hard it is to get refuge in the West from repressive regimes, and she shows how much an immigrant can achieve under such circumstances. And yet I find that she worked with a reactionary, anti-Muslim Dutch politician to restrict immigration from the Muslim world, and continues to advocate for restrictions on immigration.

I wanted to see the good in her that so many liberal secularists do, but I can’t.

I think she and Rep. Peter King deserve each other.

 

Allen West Says Keith Ellison is the “antithesis of American values”

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2011 by loonwatch

Allen West is on a crusade, no doubt about it. The video for his interview with Shalom TV is insane, it seems as though he puts Israel first even ahead of America.

Allen West: Keith Ellison ‘The Antithesis Of Principles’ Upon Which Country Was Founded (VIDEO)

(Huffington Post)

Freshman Tea Party-backed Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) recently got personal in an attack on one of the House’s two Muslim representatives, declaring that Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) represents “the antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established.”

During an interview with “The Shalom Show,” West also said that he plans to “defeat” Ellison, an outspoken Democrat who “supports Islam,” according to host Richard Peritz, “intellectually in debate and discourse.”

As ThinkProgress notes, West has repeatedly sought to connect Islamic religious beliefs to supposedly anti-American views.

At a town hall meeting during his campaign, West claimed that people who display the popular “Coexist” bumper stickers, which use various religious symbols as font, are those who would “give away our country” and “our rights and freedoms and liberties because they are afraid to stand up and confront that which is the antithesis, anathema of who we are.”

If the connection between the bumper sticker and Islam wasn’t made clear by that statement, West went on to drive home his claim that Islam is a “very vile and very vicious enemy that we have allowed to come in this country because we ride around with bumper stickers that say ‘coexist.’”

For more on West’s controversial views of Islam, check out ThinkProgress’s report here.

 

Michael Bloomberg Splits with Peter King Over Muslim Hearings

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2010 by loonwatch

Michael Bloomberg who has been a pinnacle of support for religious tolerance has come out against fellow republican, Peter King on the Congressional hearings on American Muslims.

Bloomberg Splits With Peter King Over Muslim ‘Radicalization’ Hearings

By Jill Colvin and Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Reporter/Producers

MANHATTAN — Mayor Michael Bloomberg distanced himself Monday from a Republican Congressman’s plans to hold hearings on Muslim “radicalization.”

In an op-ed published in Newsday, Long Island Rep. Peter King, who is set to become chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said that as part of his duties, he intends to hold hearings on topics including the “radicalization of the American Muslim community and homegrown terrorism.”

“As chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, I will do all I can to break down the wall of political correctness and drive the public debate on Islamic radicalization,” he wrote, adding that the hearings are “what democracy is all about.”

Asked about the remarks during a press conference at City Hall urging Congress to pass the 9/11 health bill, Bloomberg told reporters that while he agreed with King on many topics, this time around, “I think we probably part company quite severely.”

“I don’t happen to agree with him that that’s necessary, said Bloomberg, who has been a vocal proponent of religious tolerance in the past, including supporting the right of Park 51 to build an Islamic center near Ground Zero — a plan King has vehemently opposed.

King has been criticized for his views on Islam. He even referenced the litany of criticism he’s received from groups accusing him of religious intolerance in the op-ed, which ran in print sections on Monday.

“This crowd sees me as an anti-Musim bigot,” he said, calling out everyone from the Committee on American Islamic Relations to CNN. King denied the claims in his op-ed and added that he knows the “majority of Muslims in our country are hardworking, dedicated Americans.”

Still, he said, with 15 percent of Muslims in America still thinking that suicide bombing is justified, he said, the alienation between Muslims and non-Muslims remains.

“We need to find the reasons for this alienation.”

Read more: http://www.dnainfo.com/20101220/manhattan/bloomberg-splits-with-peter-king-over-muslim-radicalization-hearings#ixzz18lYqh3LS

 

Michael Bloomberg Splits with Peter King Over Muslim Hearings

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2010 by loonwatch

Michael Bloomberg who has been a pinnacle of support for religious tolerance has come out against fellow republican, Peter King on the Congressional hearings on American Muslims.

Bloomberg Splits With Peter King Over Muslim ‘Radicalization’ Hearings

By Jill Colvin and Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Reporter/Producers

MANHATTAN — Mayor Michael Bloomberg distanced himself Monday from a Republican Congressman’s plans to hold hearings on Muslim “radicalization.”

In an op-ed published in Newsday, Long Island Rep. Peter King, who is set to become chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said that as part of his duties, he intends to hold hearings on topics including the “radicalization of the American Muslim community and homegrown terrorism.”

“As chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, I will do all I can to break down the wall of political correctness and drive the public debate on Islamic radicalization,” he wrote, adding that the hearings are “what democracy is all about.”

Asked about the remarks during a press conference at City Hall urging Congress to pass the 9/11 health bill, Bloomberg told reporters that while he agreed with King on many topics, this time around, “I think we probably part company quite severely.”

“I don’t happen to agree with him that that’s necessary, said Bloomberg, who has been a vocal proponent of religious tolerance in the past, including supporting the right of Park 51 to build an Islamic center near Ground Zero — a plan King has vehemently opposed.

King has been criticized for his views on Islam. He even referenced the litany of criticism he’s received from groups accusing him of religious intolerance in the op-ed, which ran in print sections on Monday.

“This crowd sees me as an anti-Musim bigot,” he said, calling out everyone from the Committee on American Islamic Relations to CNN. King denied the claims in his op-ed and added that he knows the “majority of Muslims in our country are hardworking, dedicated Americans.”

Still, he said, with 15 percent of Muslims in America still thinking that suicide bombing is justified, he said, the alienation between Muslims and non-Muslims remains.

“We need to find the reasons for this alienation.”

Read more: http://www.dnainfo.com/20101220/manhattan/bloomberg-splits-with-peter-king-over-muslim-radicalization-hearings#ixzz18lYqh3LS

The Politics Behind Misunderstanding Islam

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2010 by loonwatch

John Feffer wrote an excellent piece on the politics underpinning he “misunderstanding of Islam.”

The Politics Behind Misunderstanding Islam

John Feffer: The Myths Underpinning Islamophobia Share a Long History

The Muslims were bloodthirsty and treacherous. They conducted a sneak attack against the French army and slaughtered every single soldier, 20,000 in all. More than 1,000 years ago, in the mountain passes of Spain, the Muslim horde cut down the finest soldiers in Charlemagne’s command, including his brave nephew Roland. Then, according to the famous poem that immortalized the tragedy, Charlemagne exacted his revenge by routing the entire Muslim army.

The Song of Roland, an eleventh century rendering in verse of an eighth century battle, is a staple of Western Civilization classes at colleges around the country. A “masterpiece of epic drama,” in the words of its renowned translator Dorothy Sayers, it provides a handy preface for students before they delve into readings on the Crusades that began in 1095. More ominously, the poem has schooled generations of Judeo-Christians to view Muslims as perfidious enemies who once threatened the very foundations of Western civilization.

The problem, however, is that the whole epic is built on a curious falsehood. The army that fell upon Roland and his Frankish soldiers was not Muslim at all. In the real battle of 778, the slayers of the Franks were Christian Basques furious at Charlemagne for pillaging their city of Pamplona. Not epic at all, the battle emerged from a parochial dispute in the complex wars of medieval Spain. Only later, as kings and popes and knights prepared to do battle in the First Crusade, did an anonymous bard repurpose the text to serve the needs of an emerging cross-against-crescent holy war.

Similarly, we think of the Crusades as the archetypal “clash of civilizations” between the followers of Jesus and the followers of Mohammed. In the popular version of those Crusades, the Muslim adversary has, in fact, replaced a remarkable range of peoples the Crusaders dealt with as enemies, including Jews killed in pogroms on the way to the Holy Land, rival Catholics slaughtered in the Balkans and in Constantinople, and Christian heretics hunted down in southern France.

Much later, during the Cold War, mythmakers in Washington performed a similar act, substituting a monolithic crew labeled “godless communists” for a disparate group of anti-imperial nationalists in an attempt to transform conflicts in remote locations like Vietnam, Guatemala, and Iran into epic struggles between the forces of the Free World and the forces of evil. In recent years, the Bush administration did it all over again by portraying Arab nationalists as fiendish Islamic fundamentalists when we invaded Iraq and prepared to topple the regime in Syria.

Similar mythmaking continues today. The recent surge of Islamophobia in the United States has drawn strength from several extraordinary substitutions. A clearly Christian president has become Muslim in the minds of a significant number of Americans. The thoughtful Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan has become a closet fundamentalist in the writings of Paul Berman and others. And an Islamic center in lower Manhattan, organized by proponents of interfaith dialogue, has become an extremist “mosque at Ground Zero” in the TV appearances, political speeches, and Internet sputterings of a determined clique of right-wing activists.

This transformation of Islam into a violent caricature of itself — as if Ann Coulter had suddenly morphed into the face of Christianity — comes at a somewhat strange juncture in the United States. Anti-Islamic rhetoric and hate crimes, which spiked immediately after September 11, 2001, had been on the wane. No major terrorist attack had taken place in the U.S. or Europe since the London bombings in 2005. The current American president had reached out to the Muslim world and retired the controversial acronym GWOT, or “Global War on Terror.”

All the elements seemed in place, in other words, for us to turn the page on an ugly chapter in our history. Yet it’s as if we remain fixed in the eleventh century in a perpetual battle of “us” against “them.” Like the undead rising from their coffins, our previous “crusades” never go away.  Indeed, we still seem to be fighting the three great wars of the millennium, even though two of these conflicts have long been over and the third has been rhetorically reduced to “overseas contingency operations.” The Crusades, which finally petered out in the seventeenth century, continue to shape our global imagination today. The Cold War ended in 1991, but key elements of the anti-communism credo have been awkwardly grafted onto the new Islamist adversary. And the Global War on Terror, which President Obama quietly renamed shortly after taking office, has in fact metastasized into the wars that his administration continues to prosecute in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere.

Those in Europe and the United States who cheer on these wars claim that they are issuing a wake-up call about the continued threat of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other militants who claim the banner of Islam. However, what really keeps Islamophobes up at night is not the marginal and backwards-looking Islamic fundamentalists but rather the growing economic, political, and global influence of modern, mainstream Islam. Examples of Islam successfully grappling with modernity abound, from Turkey’s new foreign policy and Indonesia’s economic muscle to the Islamic political parties participating in elections in Lebanon, Morocco, and Jordan. Instead of providing reassurance, however, these trends only incite Islamophobes to intensify their battles to “save” Western civilization.

As long as our unfinished wars still burn in the collective consciousness — and still rage in Kabul, Baghdad, Sana’a, and the Tribal Areas of Pakistan — Islamophobia will make its impact felt in our media, politics, and daily life. Only if we decisively end the millennial Crusades, the half-century Cold War, and the decade-long War on Terror (under whatever name) will we overcome the dangerous divide that has consumed so many lives, wasted so much wealth, and distorted our very understanding of our Western selves.

The Crusades Continue

With their irrational fear of spiders, arachnophobes are scared of both harmless daddy longlegs and poisonous brown recluse spiders. In extreme cases, an arachnophobe can break out in a sweat while merely looking at photos of spiders. It is, of course, reasonable to steer clear of black widows. What makes a legitimate fear into an irrational phobia, however, is the tendency to lump all of any group, spiders or humans, into one lethal category and then to exaggerate how threatening they are. Spider bites, after all, are responsible for at most a handful of deaths a year in the United States.

Islamophobia is, similarly, an irrational fear of Islam. Yes, certain Muslim fundamentalists have been responsible for terrorist attacks, certain fantasists about a “global caliphate” continue to plot attacks on perceived enemies, and certain groups like Afghanistan’s Taliban and Somalia’s al-Shabaab practice medieval versions of the religion. But Islamophobes confuse these small parts with the whole and then see terrorist jihad under every Islamic pillow. They break out in a sweat at the mere picture of an imam.

Irrational fears are often rooted in our dimly remembered childhoods. Our irrational fear of Islam similarly seems to stem from events that happened in the early days of Christendom. Three myths inherited from the era of the Crusades constitute the core of Islamophobia today: Muslims are inherently violent, Muslims want to take over the world, and Muslims can’t be trusted.

The myth of Islam as a “religion of the sword” was a staple of Crusader literature and art. In fact, the atrocities committed by Muslim leaders and armies — and there were some — rarely rivaled the slaughters of the Crusaders, who retook Jerusalem in 1099 in a veritable bloodbath.

“The heaps of the dead presented an immediate problem for the conquerors,” writes Christopher Tyerman in God’s War. “Many of the surviving Muslim population were forced to clear the streets and carry the bodies outside the walls to be burnt in great pyres, whereat they themselves were massacred.” Jerusalem’s Jews suffered a similar fate when the Crusaders burned many of them alive in their main synagogue. Four hundred years earlier, by contrast, Caliph ‘Umar put no one to the sword when he took over Jerusalem, signing a pact with the Christian patriarch Sophronius that pledged “no compulsion in religion.”

This myth of the inherently violent Muslim endures. Islam “teaches violence,” televangelist Pat Robertson proclaimedin 2005. “The Koran teaches violence and most Muslims, including so-called moderate Muslims, openly believe in violence,” was the way Major General Jerry Curry (U.S. Army, ret.), who served in the Carter, Reagan, and Bush Sr. administrations, put it.

The Crusaders justified their violence by arguing that Muslims were bent on taking over the world. In its early days, the expanding Islamic empire did indeed imagine an ever-growing Dar-al-Islam(House of Islam). By the time of the Crusades, however, this initial burst of enthusiasm for holy war had long been spent. Moreover, the Christian West harbored its own set of desires when it came to extending the Pope’s authority to every corner of the globe. Even that early believer in soft power, Francis of Assisi, sat down with Sultan al-Kamil during the Fifth Crusade with the aim of eliminating Islam through conversion.

Today, Islamophobes portray the building of Cordoba House in lower Manhattan as just another gambit in this millennial power grab: “This is Islamic domination and expansionism,” writes right-wing blogger Pamela Geller, who made the “Ground Zero Mosque” into a media obsession. “Islam is a religion with a very political agenda,” warns ex-Muslim Ali Sina. “The ultimate goal of Islam is to rule the world.”
These two myths — of inherent violence and global ambitions — led to the firm conviction that Muslims were by nature untrustworthy. Robert of Ketton, a twelfth century translator of the Koran, was typical in badmouthing the prophet Mohammad this way: “Like the liar you are, you everywhere contradict yourself.” The suspicion of untrustworthiness fell as well on any Christian who took up the possibility of coexistence with Islam. Pope Gregory, for instance, believed that the thirteenth century Crusader Frederick II was the Anti-Christ himself because he developed close relationships with Muslims.

For Islamophobes today, Muslims abroad are similarly terrorists-in-waiting. As for Muslims at home, “American Muslims must face their either/or,” writes the novelist Edward Cline, “to repudiate Islam or remain a quiet, sanctioning fifth column.” Even American Muslims in high places, like Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), are not above suspicion. In a 2006 CNN interview, Glenn Beck said, “I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, ‘Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.’”

These three myths of Islamophobia flourish in our era, just as they did almost a millennium ago, because of a cunning conflation of a certain type of Islamic fundamentalism with Islam itself. Bill O’Reilly was neatly channeling this Crusader mindset when he asserted recently that “the Muslim threat to the world is not isolated. It’s huge!”  When Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence William Boykin, in an infamous 2003 sermon, thundered “What I’m here to do today is to recruit you to be warriors of God’s kingdom,” he was issuing the Crusader call to arms.

But O’Reilly and Boykin, who represent the violence, duplicity, and expansionist mind-set of today’s Western crusaders, were also invoking a more recent tradition, closer in time and far more familiar.

The Totalitarian Myth

In 1951, the CIA and the emerging anti-communist elite, including soon-to-be-president Dwight Eisenhower, created the Crusade for Freedom as a key component of a growing psychological warfare campaign against the Soviet Union and the satellite countries it controlled in Eastern Europe. The language of this “crusade” was intentionally religious. It reached out to “peoples deeply rooted in the heritage of western civilization,” living under the “crushing weight of a godless dictatorship.” In its call for the liberation of the communist world, it echoed the nearly thousand-year-old crusader rhetoric of “recovering” Jerusalem and other outposts of Christianity.

In the theology of the Cold War, the Soviet Union replaced the Islamic world as the untrustworthy infidel. However unconsciously, the old crusader myths about Islam translated remarkably easily into governing assumptions about the communist enemy: the Soviets and their allies were bent on taking over the world, could not be trusted with their rhetoric of peaceful coexistence, imperiled Western civilization, and fought with unique savagery as well as a willingness to martyr themselves for the greater ideological good.
Ironically, Western governments were so obsessed with fighting this new scourge that, in the Cold War years, on the theory that my enemy’s enemy is my friend, they nurtured radical Islam as a weapon. As journalist Robert Dreyfuss ably details in his book The Devil’s Game, the U.S. funding of the mujahideen in Afghanistan was only one part of the anti-communist crusade in the Islamic world. To undermine Arab nationalists and leftists who might align themselves with the Soviet Union, the United States (and Israel) worked with Iranian mullahs, helped create Hamas, and facilitated the spread of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Though the Cold War ended with the sudden disappearance of the Soviet Union in 1991, that era’s mind-set — and so many of the Cold Warriors sporting it — never went with it. The prevailing mythology was simply transferred back to the Islamic world.  In anti-communist theology, for example, the worst curse word was “totalitarianism,” said to describe the essence of the all-encompassing Soviet state and system.

According to the gloss that early neoconservative Jeanne Kirkpatrick provided in her book Dictatorships and Double Standards, the West had every reason to support right-wing authoritarian dictatorships because they would steadfastly oppose left-wing totalitarian dictatorships, which, unlike the autocracies we allied with, were supposedly incapable of internal reform.

According to the new “Islamo-fascism” school — and its acolytes like Norman Podhoretz, David Horowitz, Bill O’Reilly, Pamela Geller — the fundamentalists are simply the “new totalitarians,” as hidebound, fanatical, and incapable of change as communists. For a more sophisticated treatment of the Islamo-fascist argument, check out Paul Berman, a rightward-leaning liberal intellectual who has tried to demonstrate that “moderate Muslims” are fundamentalists in reformist clothing.

These Cold Warriors all treat the Islamic world as an undifferentiated mass — in spirit, a modern Soviet Union — where Arab governments and radical Islamists work hand in glove. They simply fail to grasp that the Syrian, Egyptian, and Saudi Arabian governments have launched their own attacks on radical Islam. The sharp divides between the Iranian regime and the Taliban, between the Jordanian government and the Palestinians, between Shi’ites and Sunni in Iraq, and even among Kurds all disappear in the totalitarian blender, just as anti-communists generally failed to distinguish between the Communist hardliner Leonid Brezhnev and the Communist reformer Mikhail Gorbachev.

At the root of terrorism, according to Berman, are “immense failures of political courage and imagination within the Muslim world,” rather than the violent fantasies of a group of religious outliers or the Crusader-ish military operations of the West. In other words, something flawed at the very core of Islam itself is responsible for the violence done in its name — a line of argument remarkably similar to one Cold Warriors made about communism.

All of this, of course, represents a mirror image of al-Qaeda’s arguments about the inherent perversities of the infidel West. As during the Cold War, hardliners reinforce one another.

The persistence of Crusader myths and their transposition into a Cold War framework help explain why the West is saddled with so many misconceptions about Islam. They don’t, however, explain the recent spike in Islamophobia in the U.S. after several years of relative tolerance. To understand this, we must turn to the third unfinished war: the Global War on Terror or GWOT, launched by George W. Bush.

Fanning the Flames

President Obama was careful to groom his Christian image during his campaign. He was repeatedly seen praying in churches, and he studiously avoided mosques. He did everything possible to efface the traces of Muslim identity in his past.

His opponents, of course, did just the opposite. They emphasized his middle name, Hussein, challenged his birth records, and asserted that he was too close to the Palestinian cause.  They also tried to turn liberal constituencies — particularly Jewish-American ones — against the presumptive president. Like Frederick II for an earlier generation of Christian
fundamentalists, since entering the Oval Office Obama has become the Anti-Christ of the Islamophobes.

Once in power, he broke with Bush administration policies toward the Islamic world on a few points. He did indeed push ahead with his plan to remove combat troops from Iraq (with some important exceptions). He has attempted to pressure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to stop expanding settlements in occupied Palestinian lands and to negotiate in good faith (though he has done so without resorting to the kind of pressure that might be meaningful, like a cutback of or even cessation of U.S. arms exports to Israel). In a highly publicized speech in Cairoin June 2009, he also reached out rhetorically to the Islamic world at a time when he was also eliminating the name “Global War on Terror” from the government’s vocabulary.

For Muslims worldwide, however, GWOT itself continues. The United States has orchestrated a surge in Afghanistan. The CIA’s drone war in the Pakistani borderlands has escalated rapidly. U.S. Special Forces now operate in 75 countries, at least 15 more than during the Bush years. Meanwhile, Guantanamo remains open, the United States still practices extraordinary rendition, and assassination remains an active part of Washington’s toolbox.

The civilians killed in these overseas contingency operations are predominantly Muslim. The people seized and interrogated are mostly Muslim. The buildings destroyed are largely Muslim-owned. As a result, the rhetoric of “crusaders and imperialists” used by al-Qaeda falls on receptive ears. Despite his Cairo speech, the favorability rating of the United States in the Muslim world, already grim enough, has slid even further since Obama took office — in Egypt, from 41% in 2009 to 31% percent now; in Turkey, from 33% to 23%; and in Pakistan, from 13% to 8%.

The U.S. wars, occupations, raids, and repeated air strikes have produced much of this disaffection and, as political scientist Robert Pape has consistently argued, most of the suicide bombings and other attacks against Western troops and targets as well. This is revenge, not religion, talking — just as it was for Americans after September 11, 2001. As commentator M. Junaid Levesque-Alam astutely pointed out, “When three planes hurtled into national icons, did anger and hatred rise in American hearts only after consultation of Biblical verses?”

And yet those dismal polling figures do not actually reflect a rejection of Western values (despite Islamophobe assurances that they mean exactly that). “Numerous polls that we have conducted,” writes pollster Stephen Kull, “as well as others by the World Values Survey and Arab Barometer, show strong support in the Muslim world for democracy, for human rights, and for an international order based on international law and a strong United Nations.”

In other words, nine years after September 11th a second spike in Islamophobia and in home-grown terrorist attacks like that of the would-be Times Square bomber has been born of two intersecting pressures: American critics of Obama’s foreign policy believe that he has backed away from the major civilizational struggle of our time, even as many in the Muslim world see Obama-era foreign policy as a continuation, even an escalation, of Bush-era policies of war and occupation.

Here is the irony: alongside the indisputable rise of fundamentalism over the last two decades, only some of it oriented towards violence, the Islamic world has undergone a shift which deep-sixes the cliché that Islam has held countries back from political and economic development. “Since the early 1990s, 23 Muslim countries have developed more democratic institutions, with fairly run elections, energized and competitive political parties, greater civil liberties, or better legal protections for journalists,” writes Philip Howard in The Digital Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy. Turkey has emerged as a vibrant democracy and a major foreign policy player. Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, is now the largest economy in Southeast Asia and the eighteenth largest economy in the world.

Are Islamophobes missing this story of mainstream Islam’s accommodation with democracy and economic growth? Or is it this story (not Islamo-fascism starring al-Qaeda) that is their real concern?

The recent preoccupations of Islamophobes are telling in this regard. Pamela Geller, after all, was typical in the way she went after not a radical mosque, but an Islamic center about two blocks from Ground Zero proposed by a proponent of interfaith dialogue. As journalist Stephen Salisbury writes,“The mosque controversy is not really about a mosque at all; it’s about the presence of Muslims in America, and the free-floating anxiety and fear that now dominate the nation’s psyche.” For her latest venture, Geller is pushing a boycott of Campbell’s Soup because it accepts halal certification — the Islamic version of kosher certification by a rabbi — from the Islamic Society of North America, a group which, by the way, has gone out of its way to denounce religious extremism.

Paul Berman, meanwhile, has devoted his latest book, The Flight of the Intellectuals, to deconstructing the arguments not of Osama bin-Laden or his ilk, but of Tariq Ramadan, the foremost mainstream Islamic theologian. Ramadan is a man firmly committed to breaking down the old distinctions between “us” and “them.” Critical of the West for colonialism, racism, and other ills, he also challenges the injustices of the Islamic world. He is far from a fundamentalist.

And what country, by the way, has exercised European Islamophobes more than any other? Pakistan? Saudi Arabia? Taliban Afghanistan?  No, the answer is: Turkey. “The Turks are conquering Germany in the same way the Kosovars conquered Kosovo: by using higher birth-rates,” arguesGermany’s Islamophobe du jour, Thilo Sarrazin, a member of Germany’s Social Democratic Party. The far right has even united around a Europe-wide referendum to keep Turkey out of the European Union.

Despite his many defects, George W. Bush at least knew enough to distinguish Islam from Islamism. By targeting a perfectly normal Islamic center, a perfectly normal Islamic scholar, and a perfectly normal Islamic country — all firmly in the mainstream of that religion — the Islamophobes have actually declared war on normalcy, not extremism.

The victories of the tea party movement and the increased power of Republican militants in Congress, not to mention the renaissance of the far right in Europe, suggest that we will be living with this Islamophobia and the three unfinished wars of the West against the Rest for some time. The Crusades lasted hundreds of years. Let’s hope that Crusade 2.0, and the dark age that we find ourselves in, has a far shorter lifespan.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

 

Racist Billboard of Obama in Colorado

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2010 by loonwatch

Someone in Colorado thought it would be a good idea to put a billboard of Obama as a Suicide bomber, pimp, Mexican bandito, and a gay person.

If you ever wondered what was wrong with Republicans this is it:

 

Geoffrey Dunn: Palin’s Bigoted Calls on Muslims to “Refudiate”

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on July 19, 2010 by loonwatch

Palin’s Bigoted Twitter Calls on Muslims to “Refudiate”

by Geoffrey Dunn

Echoing the bigoted and right-wing contortions of the National Republican Trust PAC and disgraced Tea Party leader Mark Williams, Sarah Palin has sent the world of Twitter on fire this afternoon, with aseries of incendiary Tweets about the proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center

She pulled down one of them after concocting the word “refudiate” and then used the word “refute” incorrectly.

Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate

Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real.

She then pulled the second attempt down and took a third swipe at it.

Peace-seeking Muslims pls understand. Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing

“Peaceful,” “peace-seeking”? Why the qualifier? How about “peaceful Christians“? And as if Sarah Palin knows anything about “healing.” Perhaps that’s the biggest joke of all.

Well, not quite. The Thrilla from Wasilla then compared herself to none other than the Immortal Bard himself (and with indirect reference to her primary obsession, Barack Obama).

‘Refudiate,’ ‘misunderestimate,’ ‘wee-wee’d up.’ English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!’

As Billy Boy so wisely noted in The Tempest:

You cram these words into mine ears against
The stomach of my sense.

 

Reza Aslan Rips Republican Zuhdi Jasser on Mosque

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature, Loon Media with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2010 by loonwatch

Reza Aslan, an Islamic scholar and an accomplished writer, blogger, and emerging popular culture figure was on CNN opposite Zuhdi Jasser, a contributor to Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum and a contributing writer for the virulently anti-Islam Family Security Matters.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOp4O9FwzRw 350 300]

 

NAACP: Tea Party Movement is Racist

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on July 14, 2010 by loonwatch

NAACP Passes Tea Party Racism Resolution

Brian Montopoli

The NAACP has passed a resolution condemning racism in the Tea Party movement.

The resolution was approved in a vote by more than 2,000 delegates at the annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Kansas City.

Versions of the resolution condemned “explicitly racist behavior” in the Tea Party movement and called on people to “repudiate” what it described as racist elements of the Tea Party. The final text of the resolution has not yet been made available, however, and that language may have changed.

As the Associated Press notes, NAACP President Ben Jealous has said the Tea Party movement needs to “be responsible members of this democracy and make sure they don’t tolerate bigots or bigotry among their members.”

Members of the Tea Party movement vehemently deny that their movement is racist.

CBS News poll in April found 52 percent of Tea Party members believe too much has been made of the problems facing black people. Far fewer Americans overall — 28 percent — believe as much. Among non-Tea Party whites, the percentage who say too much attention has been paid to the problems of black people is 23 percent.

The original NAACP resolution, submitted by the group’s Kansas City branch, said the Tea Party movement has “displayed signs and posters intended to degrade people of color generally and President Barack Obama specifically.”

It condemned “racist elements” of the movement as “a threat to progress” and referenced instances in which black congressmen said they were verbally and physically abused by Tea Party activists.

 

Marvin Scott: More Anti-Muslim Candidates

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on July 5, 2010 by loonwatch
Marvin Scott with George Bush 

The Election season is in full gear and with it comes the anti-Muslim agitators and bigots. We have one more example of a political leader using his opponents Islamness as a means to capitalize in the race.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DGNu6dI_ZE&feature=player_embedded 350 300]

INDIANAPOLIS — Congressman André Carson’s Republican opponent, Marvin Scott, is now calling on Carson (D-7th District), who is Muslim, to “stand up against Muslim extremism.” It’s a tactic that has local Islamic leaders condemning Scott’s actions.

It’s a normal Friday at Al-Fajr, a mosque on the northwest side of town, where Muslims gather for Jumu’a, the Friday prayer service. Before the service we asked the Chairman of the board, Dr. Haroon Qazi and another leader, Tim Palmer, to give us their reaction to the website created this week by GOP Congressional candidate Marvin Scott, drmarvinscottforcongress.com.

On it, Scott lists “fight Muslim extremism” as one of his guiding principles. Click on the words and you will find an image from 9/11 and ten reasons why radical Islam is a threat. They include “Islam commands homosexuals must be executed.” “Islam allows husbands to hit their wives.” And “Islam commands that drinkers and gamblers should be whipped.”

Dr. Haroon Qazi, Chairman of the Board at the Al-Fajr Mosque says, “You can take anything out of context and make a peaceful religion into something which is demonic.”

Scott is trying to unseat Carson, one of two Muslims in Congress but, at the mosque there is a belief that in the process he is smearing, not just Carson, but all Muslims. Al-Fajr Mosque public relations chair Tim Palmer points to website saying, “The change in word phrase, ‘Muslim extremism’ transitioning into just “Muslims”, is painting all Muslims as extremists.”

Wish TV, 2 July 2010

See also Sheila Musaji at The American Muslim, 2 July 2010