Ask the Expert – Islamophobia – August 2011

What is the Islamophobia Network?

The Islamophobia Network is a small group of pseudo-experts who have been trying to convince America that there is a dangerous Muslim presence in this country. It is comprised largely of five core individuals: David Yerushalmi, Frank Gaffney, Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes and Steven Emerson. Those individuals have been working for decades to try to convince people that there’s a creeping Sharia threat in this nation. That mosques are a dangerous presence in America. And that Muslims are not holding core American values. This group has been funded by a core group of eight foundations for the better part of the last decade. They’ve received over forty million dollars from these core foundations to do the work that they’ve done. Together they comprise the Islamophobia network.

How has the Network shaped the narrative about Muslims in America?

To understand the reach of this network, consider the Park 51 controversy. The so-called “Ground Zero Mosque.” It was drummed up by the pseudo-experts and then disseminated to the American public through a variety of outreach mechanisms. Brigitte Gabriel’s Act! For America, a group that touts 160,000 members, was letting everyone know that the Ground Zero mosque posed a serious threat to American freedom. Also, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer’s Stop Islamization of America group was holding rallies and trying to convince Americans of this threat of the “victory mosque,” as they touted it. David Horowitz’s various blogs and news organizations were peddling conspiracy theories day in and day out about the Ground Zero mosque controversy.

Over time it convinced a number of radio and television personalities. So soon you had Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck talking about it. And on TV, Fox News was touting every it single day. It disseminated into the print press where you saw the Washington Times start to report on it. Eventually the story became so huge it was on every mainstream media network. It came out of the mouths of politicians like Alan West and Newt Gingrich and a whole host of others.

How Should Americans Fight Back Against the Network’s Propaganda?

All of us, but particularly those in the conservative movement, need to divorce ourselves from the information produced by the Islamophobia Network. Those in the media have a special responsibility here. And that is not to give a platform to the Islamophobia Network’s misinformation. I think that the Islamophobia Network needs to be understood for what it is and what it’s trying to do. And that is to divide America. To pit us at war against one another.

That has a number of harmful repercussions. It takes the Muslim community and it ostracizes them. It says they are not valued here in America. In the fight against violent extremism they are one of our most valuable tools in identifying who the bad actors are. Secondly, it takes the Constitution and throws it out the window. It says, we don’t really believe in the freedom of religion.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, America is the best nation on Earth. And if we are to remain a model to the world we have to reject the vision that’s being offered by the Islamophobia Network.