Who are behind Islamophobia in the USA?

Quick Facts: Who are behind Islamophobia in US?
Mon Aug 29, 2011 12:13PM GMT

Following a six-month long investigative research project, the Center for American Progress released a 130-page report Friday which reveals that more than $42 million from seven foundations over the past decade have helped fan the flames of anti-Muslim hate in America.

Over the past few years, the Islamophobia network-- the funders, scholars, grassroots activists, media amplifiers, and political validators-- have worked hard to push narratives that President Barack Obama might be a Muslim, that mosques are incubators of radicalization, and that "radical Islam" has infiltrated all aspects of American society -- including the conservative movement. FP

This spreading of hate and misinformation primarily starts with five key people and their organizations, which are sustained by funding from a clutch of key foundations.

The following are the highlights of the report:

The funding

A small group of conservative foundations and wealthy donors are the lifeblood of the Islamophobia network in America. They provide critical funding to a clutch of right-wing think tanks and misinformation experts who peddle hate and fear of Muslims and Islam-in the form of books, reports, websites, blogs, and carefully crafted talking points, which dedicated anti-Islam grassroots organizations and some right-wing religious groups use as propaganda for their constituency.

These foundations and wealthy donors also provide direct funding to anti-Islam grassroots groups.

More than $40 million flowed from seven foundations over 10 years.

The foundations funding the misinformation experts:

· Donors Capital Fund;

· Richard Mellon Scaife Foundation;

· Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation;

· Newton and Rochelle Becker Foundation and Newton and Rochelle Becker Charitable Trust;

· Russell Berrie Foundation;

· Anchorage Charitable Fund and William Rosenwald Family Fund;

· Fairbrook Foundation.

Altogether, these seven charitable groups provided $42.6 million to Islamophobia think tanks between 2001 and 2009, funding that supports the scholars and experts as well as some of the grassroots groups.

The misinformation experts

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

· Frank Gaffney at the Center for Security Policy

· David Yerushalmi at the Society of Americans for National Existence

· Daniel Pipes at the Middle East Forum

· Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch and Stop Islamization of America

· Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism

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

All five are actively promoting the deeply mistaken portrayal of Islam-a religion of nearly 1.6 billion people worldwide, including 2.6 million Americans-as an inherently violent ideology that seeks domination over the United States and all non-Muslims.

This small band of radical ideologues has fought to define Sharia as a “totalitarian ideology” and “legal-political-military doctrine” committed to destroying Western civilization.

The reach

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

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

The impact

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

The most vivid reminders that the rising tide of anti-Muslim hate is catching fire with the American public are constant examples of well-attended demonstrations against American Muslims. These incidents are tethered to a machine that is designed to orchestrate such protests as part of a larger campaign of hatred.

The right-wing mainstream news enablers of Islamophobia:

Fox Newss

Fox News has one of the biggest and most influential megaphones in TV news. It uses this megaphone to amplify anti-Muslim alarmist threats and conspiracy theories on a regular basis.

Virtually all the leading Islamophobia players have made recurring appearances on popular Fox News programs, such as “Hannity”, “The O'Reilly Factor”, and “Fox & Friends.”

The cable news network also featured former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich as a commentator, which he uses to promote his increasingly Islamophobic opinions.

The Christian Broadcasting Network

The Christian Broadcasting Network has less national influence than Fox News, but great influence among conservative religious viewers. CBN is a powerful amplifier of anti-Muslim views to Christian audiences, promoting in some cases even more extreme views than Fox News.

National Review

National Review is a biweekly magazine, founded in 1955 by influential conservative

William F. Buckley Jr. It calls itself “America's most widely read and influential magazine and website for conservative news, commentary, and opinion.”

While National Review speaks to a more mainstream conservative audience than many of the media outlets, it also features writers and articles that raise alarmist warnings and threats about Muslims and Islam, though often in less apocalyptic language.

The Washington Times and the Clarion Fund

Then there is The Washington Times, a conservative daily newspaper and website created by Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church. The Washington Times promotes socially and politically conservative views and often features members of the Islamophobia network.

Despite its small readership, The Washington Times punches well above its weight in the national media because many of the views it raises and voices it carries are picked up by media outlets with powerful megaphones, like Fox News and conservative talk-radio shows, helping spread anti-Muslim messages into the larger public sphere.

Hate radio

Anti-Muslim websites work in tandem with popular radio talk-show hosts who repeat and amplify the alarmist threats and conspiracy theories promoted by the blogs and their supporters. The industry of “hate radio” includes nationally known personalities such as Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, and others. Together, they use their programs as bully pulpits to preach anti-Muslim messages of intolerance and hate.

'The Rush Limbaugh Show'

Rush Limbaugh hosts the most popular radio talk show in America. “The Rush Limbaugh Show” is carried by more than 600 radio stations nationwide and is broadcast to more than 15 million listeners a week.

'The Sean Hannity Show'

The nation's second most popular talk show is “The Sean Hannity Show”, a nationally syndicated talk-radio show that airs on Premiere Radio Networks and is hosted by Sean Hannity. Hannity, age 49, also hosts a cable-TV news show “Hannity” on Fox News.

Nearly 14 million listeners tune into Hannity's radio show each week to hear guests repeat the same talking points and conspiracy theories that can be heard on Limbaugh, Fox News, and other places.

'The Savage Nation'

Mike Savage hosts “The Savage Nation,” another top-rated national radio program, which is syndicated through Talk Radio Network. More than 350 radio stations broadcast his show to nearly 9 million weekly listeners, putting him just behind Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity in ratings. Savage, 69, is known for his angry diatribes against minorities, including Muslims.

'The Glenn Beck Program'

Glenn Beck also has a popular radio show that is broadcast by more than 400 stations and syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks. Beck's show ties with Savage's show for third place for national radio talk shows with more than 9 million listeners weekly. Beck, 47, conjures fears equating Muslims with terrorists and brings religion into the mix.

Levin, Fischer, and Gaffney

Then there's Mark Levin, who hosts the syndicated radio program “The Mark Levin Show.” Levin has frequently contributed legal opinions to “The Rush Limbaugh Show” and “The Sean Hannity Show”, where Hannity nicknamed him “The Great One.”

Levin, age 54, is the fourth most popular radio host in America, averaging more than 8.5 million listeners weekly. Levin joins the line-up of talk show hosts giving the microphone to biased voices against Islam.

HJ/DB