Islamophobia, the fear of Islam, is on the rise in America. As a result, a minority group whose numbers are reported between 3-7 million in the United States, are constantly under the suspicious eyes of wary Americans. As a result, violence against Muslim-Americans has risen.
A recent poll from the Pew Forum stated that only 38% of Americans know a Muslim (Lipka, 2014). Another Pew poll shows that currently only 30% of Americans have a favorable view of Americans whereas 38% of Americans have an unfavorable view of Muslims. This is slightly lower than in 2005 where 41% of Americans had a favorable view of Muslims and only 36% of Americans had an unfavorable view.
Interestingly, this same poll said that 62% of Americans believe that Muslims should have the same rights as other religious groups to build houses of worship within their communities. Disturbingly, 25% of Americans believe that local communities should be able to prevent Muslims from building places of worship, an obvious disregard for the First Amendment (Grossman, 2010).
So what can be made from this data? It can be shown that Americans have a less favorable view of Muslims now than they did in 2005. Also 1/4th of Americans believe that Muslims should be prevented from building mosques within their communities. Startling in light of the fact that our great nation was founded upon the premise of religious freedom and tolerance.
What is driving this intolerance? Sure there is the despicable and brutal acts of groups like ISIS whose barbarism is making world news. However, this group does not represent the vast majority of Muslims who want to live in a peaceful world.
In fact, ISIS has stated their intention to take over the Islamic holy city of Mecca and cut off any Muslim’s head that has kissed the black stone of the Ka’ba even the Muslim Prophet Muhammad kissed the black stone and stated in an authentic Hadith that on the Day of Judgment the Black Stone will intercede on behalf of the Muslim to Allah and ask for their forgiveness. This in fact means that ISIS has declared war on Islam and is the enemy of all Muslims (Chiaramonte, 2014).
There is an inner-group of individuals, known as Fear Inc. that is behind the propagation of fear and demonization of Muslims. Upon further research these people are funded by corporations that in turn are front companies for many mainstream organizations that actually capitalize from spreading fear and hysteria towards Islam and Muslims.
This inner-group uses grass roots organizations, politicians, conservative media sources such as Fox News, as well the Christian right to help push their hate. The inner-group of individuals in Fear Inc. comprise of Pamela Geller, Allen West, Michelle Bachmann, David Yerushalmi, Frank Gaffney, David Horowitz, Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes, Steven Emerson and Brigitte Gabriel. All of these people have lucrative careers in being fear-mongers towards Muslims.
Out of these named individuals, seven of them create the majority of the disinformation about Islam. These seven individuals are:
· Frank Gaffney – Center for Security Policy
· Brigitte Gabriel – Act For America
· Pamela Geller – Atlas Shrugs
· Daniel Pipes – Middle East Forum
· Robert Spencer – Jihad Watch & Stop the Islamization of America
· Steven Emerson – Investigative Project on Terrorism
· David Horowitz – The David Horowitz Freedom Center.
The next question to ask is, who funds these people? In doing my research I have discovered that almost $60 Million USD has been paid to these individuals via various front corporations. These front corporations are:
· Donors Capital Fund
· Richard Mellon Scaife foundations
· Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
· Newton D. & Rochelle F. Becker foundations and charitable trust
· Russell Berrie Foundation
· Anchorage Charitable Fund and William Rosenwald Family Fund
· Fairbrook Foundation
The Donors Capital Fund is the heavyweight of funding Islamophobia, donating to date $20.7 Million USD towards the cause. The Donors Capital Fund is a philanthropic organization run by a number of conservative heavyweights. The board includes members of the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation and Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal (Zornick, 2011). All told these seven organizations have donated over $60 Million USD towards Islamophobic think tanks as of 2014.
Each individual spreading Islamophobia get substantial salaries for their efforts putting all of them within the top 5% salary wise amongst Americans. In 2014, David Horowitz’s Freedom Center made over $7.2 Million USD while paying himself $525,000. In turn, he pays Robert Spencer an annual salary of $167,000 a year (Obeidallah, 2015).
In 2013, Pamela Geller was paid a salary of $200,000 by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI). Frank Gaffney’s Salary is $300,000 a year. In 2012, Brigitte Gabrielle was paid a base salary of $132,000 plus a bonus of $84,090 (Obeidallah, 2015).
As can be seen, spreading Islamophobia is big business and very lucrative for the inner-circle of Fear Inc. As long as they are making a substantial salary to peddle their fear-mongering, Islamophobia will continue to be pushed because it is business as usual to them. This explains why these people say absolute lies about Islam and refuse to engage in dialect with Muslims in order to faster unity and understanding amongst the American people.
Who else benefits? There is a group of right-wing politicians that have used Islamophobic rhetoric to appeal to the extreme right wing. This would be the same group that has historically been opposed to other groups, such as the Catholics in the 1800’s and the Chinese in the late 1800’s in the Pacific Northwest, as well as with other minority groups.
By presenting an enemy that they can be scared of they can present themselves in a Messianic light, that they will save them from their impending doom. As a result there will be an increase in Islamophobic rhetoric as the 2016 presidential elections approach.
By knowing who is behind the demonization of Muslims and the monetary benefit that they receive from doing so, perhaps more Americans will stand up to these fear mongers and let them know that hate and the demonization of an American minority group will no longer be tolerated. We are beginning to see this in the #NotMyAmerica movement.
Chiaramonte, P. (2014, July 10). ISIS destroys shrines and mosques, may be targeting Mecca. Retrieved from Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/07/10/isis-destroys-shrines-and-mosques-sets-sights-on-mecca/
Grossman, C. L. (2010, August 24). New survey probes what Americans think, or know, about Islam. Retrieved from USA Today: Faith & Reason – A Conversation about Religion, Spirituality, & Ethics: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/Religion/post/2010/08/islam-muslims-park51-ground-zero-mosque-pew-forum/1#.VWtnWs9Viko
Lipka, M. (2014, July 15). How many people of different faiths do you know? Retrieved from Pew Research Center: Fact Tank – News in the Numbers: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/07/17/how-many-people-of-different-faiths-do-you-know/
Obeidallah, D. (2015, May 8). Muslim-Bashing Can Be Very Lucrative. Retrieved from The Daily Beast: It’s a Living: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/05/08/muslim-bashing-can-be-very-lucrative.html
Zornick, G. (2011, August 29). Fear, Inc.: America’s Islamophobia Network. Retrieved from The Nation: http://www.thenation.com/blog/163023/fear-inc-americas-islamophobia-network#