The Right Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism

Table of Contents

Introduction

Under the guise of defending freedom and American values, right-wing anti-Muslim activists are campaigning to prevent Muslim-Americans from freely worshiping and practicing their religion, curtail their political rights, and even compel their deportation. A growing faction in the American Right claims that Muslim-Americans, who comprise just 1% of the population, are subverting the Constitution and taking over the country. These accusations have helped to foster anti-Muslim hostility, reflected in the rise of anti-Muslim prejudice and increased attacks on Muslim-Americans and houses of worship. Tied in with hatred of President Obama, fear of religious diversity and hostility toward immigrants and gays, anti-Muslim rhetoric and paranoia has become a mainstream if not ubiquitous part of the conservative movement and the Republican Party.

As Rep. Peter King (R-NY) holds a third round of polarizing hearings targeting American Muslims, expect the Right Wing to ratchet up its anti-Muslim rhetoric, misrepresenting the Muslim faith and denigrating the Muslim-American community. King and his allies claim that Muslim-Americans are using both peaceful and violent means to destroy America and curtail the nation’s freedoms, and argue that Americans must curtail Muslims’ liberties and freedoms in order to stop them.

The success or failure of the anti-Muslim political strategies outlined in this report will  not only affect the rights of Muslim-Americans, it will also speak volumes about this country’s core values, including our  commitment to religious diversity and fair and equal treatment under the law.

This report reviews eight key strategies employed by the Right to inflame anti-Muslim sentiment and turn hatred and bigotry into political weapons.  It also details how those who believe in the American dream of pluralism and equality can fight back against this onslaught from the Right.

Strategy One: Frame Muslim-Americans as dangerous to America

The anti-Muslim paranoia that has swept the conservative movement rests on the claim that Muslim-Americans represent a “fifth column” working to bring about America’s downfall. With sweeping and cutting rhetoric, anti-Muslim activists claim that all or nearly all Muslim-Americans support terrorism, violence, the abuse of women and the abrogation of American law and ideals. As in previous generations when minority religious, ethnic and political groups were demonized, the end goal of vilification is to sanction and encourage persecution – while scoring political points for those peddling irrational fears.

Anti-Muslim activists vigorously work to define Muslim-Americans as an internal threat that must be stopped in order to prevent America’s destruction. David Yerushalmi, one of the country’s leading anti-Muslim propagandists and general counsel of the far-right Center for Security Policy, claims, “Muslim civilization is at war with Judeo-Christian civilization…The Muslim peoples, those committed to Islam as we know it today, are our enemies.” According to Yerushalmi, the only way to defeat “our enemies” is to make it a crime to be Muslim. He proposes that:

- It shall be a felony punishable by 20 years in prison to knowingly act in furtherance of, or to support the, adherence to Islam.
- The Congress of the United States of America shall declare the US at war with the Muslim Nation or Umma.
- The President of the United States of America shall immediately declare that all non-US citizen Muslims are Alien Enemies under Chapter 3 of Title 50 of the US Code and shall be subject to immediate deportation.
- No Muslim shall be granted an entry visa into the United States of America.

As part of this strategy, activists paint Muslims with a broad brush that ignores the vast diversity within the Islamic faith and ties all Muslims to its most extreme branches. According to this view, there are no moderate Muslims, and violent extremism is at the center of Islam. 

Anti-Muslim activists frequently take quotes from Muslim scriptures out of context to reflect badly on Islam. “One of the most common mistakes made in cross-religious conversations is that people end up comparing the loftiest and noblest aspects of their own tradition with the most hideous aspects of others,” writes University of North Carolina professor Omid Safi. “A common ploy by Islamophobes is to go to a predictable list of verses in the Qur'an and the words of Muhammad and to argue that these verses --with no context, no interpretation, and no alternative set of verses -- represent the essence of Islam for all eternity, no matter what Muslims may say or why they may protest.”

Anti-Muslim sentiments are commonplace among Republican Party officials, candidates and activists. Right-wing activist David Horowitz maintains that “between 150 million and 750 million Muslims” are known to “support a holy war against Christians, Jews and other Muslims.” Religious Right leader Pat Robertson has likened Muslims to Adolf Hitler and said that Americans should fight Muslims in the same way the country fought Nazi Germany. Radio talk show host and American Family Association political chief Bryan Fischer calls Muslim-Americans “parasites” and a “toxic cancer” who are “out to eliminate and destroy western civilization.”

Presidential candidate Herman Cain said he would never consider appointing a Muslim to his administration, telling Fischer on his radio show, “I wouldn’t have Muslims in my administration”. Newt Gingrich defended Cain’s position in a Republican presidential debate, arguing that Muslims lie about their loyalty to the country and comparing them to Nazis. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), in an ad before the 2010 election, equated all Muslim-Americans with the terrorists who committed the September 11th attacks. Rep. Allen West (R-FL) claimed Muslims are naturally “wild” because God cursed Ishmael and his (Muslim) descendents.

The American Center for Law and Justice, the conservative legal foundation founded by Pat Robertson and Jay Sekulow, claims that Muslims are compelled by their religion to fight America and other countries: “Because Islam grew out of the belief in complete world domination, every Muslim is obligated to labor in his own way toward achieving that goal, no matter where he lives or what sovereign claims his allegiance,” the group writes in Shari’a Law: Radical Islam’s Threat to the U.S. Constitution. The ACLJ is one of the driving forces behind the attempt to block construction of the Park 51 Muslim community center in Manhattan and offers elected officials legal advice to crack down on the supposed ‘Sharia threat.’ In its Shari’a Law pamphlet, ACLJ makes clear its view that Muslims cannot be loyal Americans, asserting that “devout Muslims cannot truthfully swear the oath to become citizens of the United States of America.”

Attempts by Muslims to defend their faith and community are rendered meaningless under this Right Wing framing, because anti-Muslim activists dishonestly argue that Muslims are mandated by their religion to lie in order to further their violent objectives.

Strategy Two: Twist statistics and use fake research to “prove” the Muslim threat

Anti-Muslim activists try to give themselves credibility by bolstering their frenzied rhetoric with studies and investigations that purport to show the immense threat posed by Muslim-Americans. Sarah Posner of Religion Dispatches refers to the numerous activists, organizations and media personalities that either started or reenergized their careers by attacking Muslims as the “Sharia conspiracy theory industry” for its insidious, and lucrative, nature.  

In one of the most shameful recent examples of anti-Muslim hysteria, members of Congress have been using fake research to attack the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC) led a media push to promote the book Muslim Mafia, an “exposé” on CAIR for which she wrote a foreword. Then, along with Reps. John Shadegg (R-AZ), Paul Broun (R-GA) and Trent Franks (R-AZ), Myrick called for an official probe into CAIR, with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) also demanding that Congress investigate the group.

What was CAIR’s alleged crime? Encouraging young Muslim-Americans to become congressional interns so they could learn more about politics.

Attacks on CAIR and other groups continue. During the first set of King hearings, Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN) said that CAIR is “basically... a terrorist organization.” Rep. King and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) have consistently railed against CAIR and demanded prosecution of the organization’s leaders. Brigitte Gabriel’s ACT! for America (formerly American Congress for Truth) urged Congress to investigate CAIR, calling it “an enemy organization operating within our midst,” and accusing CAIR of supporting Osama bin Laden and acting “as a front for terrorist organizations inside America.”

Such attacks have roots in right-wing fear-mongering that claims that Muslims who form political organizations to defend their freedoms are actually trying to infiltrate the government and promote terrorism. Steve Emerson, who claims to be an expert on terrorism, warns of the “infiltration of American institutions by legal means” by “radical Islamic groups [that] misrepresent themselves as civil rights groups.” As Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting noted, Emerson has a long track record of using fake research to link Muslim political groups with terrorist organizations:

In 1997, for example, an Associated Press editor became convinced that Emerson was the "mother lode of terrorism information," according to a reporter who worked on a series that looked at Muslim-American groups.

As a consultant on the series, Emerson presented AP reporters with what were "supposed to be FBI documents" describing mainstream American Muslim groups with alleged terrorist sympathies, according to the project's lead writer, Richard Cole. One of the reporters uncovered an earlier, almost identical document authored by Emerson. The purported FBI dossier "was really his," Cole says. "He had edited out all phrases, taken out anything that made it look like his."

The prolific use of shoddy research was on display when Rep. King used the dubious contention that over eight out of ten mosques in the U.S. advocate radical Islam as a rationale for holding congressional hearings on the radicalization of Muslim-Americans. The thoroughly debunked claim that extremists dominate over 80% of American mosques was first made by a Muslim cleric who has never been able to document or verify his assertion, but that hasn’t stopped anti-Muslim activists from repeating it ad nauseam. Frank Gaffney, Jr., of the Center for Security Policy, one of the most vociferous anti-Muslim ideologues, cited the phony statistic to defend his campaign to prevent the construction of mosques in America, and Religious Right leader Gary Bauer cited unnamed “experts” to support his allegation that those who disseminate “radical Wahhabist ideology” fund 80% of American mosques.

In fact, a  2010 study by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security of Duke University and the University of North Carolina found that Muslim-American communities use mosques and affiliated community groups to fight and dispel extremist views. In addition, law enforcement agencies consistently praise the participation of Muslim-Americans in the fight against violent extremism.

But no claim is too outlandish for anti-Muslim activists.

Gabriel of ACT! for America argues that public schools are secretly converting students to Islam. “What they’re doing is literally brainwashing our students to prepare them to turn against our own soldiers and our own military and government by basically feeding them the talking points of al-Qaeda,” Gabriel wrote last year. When ACT! for America chapter leader Rich Swier claimed that world history textbooks that discuss Islam are “anti-American,” ACT! for America wondered, “Is your child’s classroom becoming a recruiting ground for Islam? In September, the Texas State Board of Education passed a resolution declaring that “pro-Islamic/anti-Christian bias has tainted some past Texas Social Studies textbooks.” Rick Joyner of The Oak Initiative tells parents that textbooks are sneakily eliminating mention of the Founding Fathers and replacing them with Muslims.

Even popular culture isn’t safe from the anti-Muslim fear industry: in 2008, the American Family Association promoted a debunked conspiracy theory that claimed Mattel’s Little Mommy Cuddle ’n Coo dolls told children that “Islam is the light.” Numerous right-wing figures even ridiculed and attacked the Miss USA pageant after a Muslim-Americans was crowned Miss USA 2010.

Strategy Three: Invent the danger of “creeping Sharia”

One of the more absurd claims employed by anti-Muslim activists is that American judges are being compelled to follow Sharia law (or Islamic law) and that Muslims are advocating the creation of Sharia courts in America. Despite the lack of any evidence to back up these claims, anti-Sharia paranoia is spreading. Oklahoma passed an anti-Sharia law by popular referendum in 2010, and numerous other state legislatures are poised to pass similar legislation.

Anti-Muslim activists frequently produce and cite phony studies to substantiate their claims that Sharia law is taking over America. For example, Gaffney’s group released a 633-page study on Sharia that the American Civil Liberties Union says “consists mostly of 50 judicial opinions, which the authors copied and pasted word-for-word simply because they mention Islam or involve claims brought by Muslims, contending that these cases serve as evidence of the so-called ‘Sharia threat.’” The Center for Security Policy then uses the inflated page count of this “study” to claim that there is substantial evidence in favor of their “creeping Sharia” theory.

The only actual court case these Right Wing activists are able to cite as evidence of “creeping Sharia” is a New Jersey domestic abuse ruling where a judge cited Islamic law in his decision. However, that ruling was overturned on appeal, which in fact demonstrates the failure of Sharia to infiltrate the judicial process. The New Jersey Star Ledger summed up the case: “In 2009, a Hudson County judge gave too much weight to the religious beliefs of a Moroccan man accused of sexually assaulting his wife. The decision was overturned on appeal, and now the convicted defendant, who lives in Bayonne, faces up to 20 years in state prison.”

Other examples cited by anti-Muslim activists mostly focus on arbitration cases decided by religious leaders, which is common in Christian and Jewish communities as well. Naturally, religiously-based arbitration agreements among Christians and Jews don’t receive similar scrutiny or complaints. “When the court cases cited by anti-Muslim groups are examined more closely, the myth of the ‘Sharia threat’ to our judicial system quickly disappears,” the ACLU notes, adding that religious arbitration cases “merely recognize the right of people of faith to agree to settle disputes in accordance with the principles of their religion – a right exercised routinely by non-Muslims.”

But if you read or listen to the diatribes of anti-Muslim leaders, Sharia law is already a part of our judiciary and government, and spreading fast.

Rep. West has launched a briefing into the alleged “infiltration” of the Muslim Brotherhood in government following his call for a congressional investigation of the “infiltration of the Shariah practice into all of our operating systems in our country as well as across Western civilization.” Gaffney believes anyone who follows Sharia is practicing “an impermissible act of sedition, which has to be prosecuted under our Constitution” -- a belief evidently shared by the Tennessee legislators who tried to pass a law that would make it a felony to adhere to Sharia law. Anti-Muslim pundit Daniel Pipes said that the legalization of polygamy “is coming our way” as a result of pressure to use Sharia law.

The sponsor of the successful anti-Sharia referendum in Oklahoma, Republican state Rep. Rex Duncan, said that the law was needed as part of “a war for the survival of America.” Wyoming Republican state Rep. Gerald Gay said he feared legalized honor killings in his state, adding that he felt “very comfortable in making my governmental decisions based on certain tenants of the Christian faith.” When a federal judge blocked the application of Oklahoma’s anti-Sharia referendum because it singled out Muslims and targeted their rights to freely practice their faith, anti-Muslim activists in the state demanded her impeachment. Many activists – including, famously, Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle -- even falsely claim that the city of Dearborn, Michigan, has already adopted Sharia law.

Former General William “Jerry” Boykin, who sparked controversy for framing the “war on terror” as a holy war, has become a hero to anti-Muslim activists. He worked with Gaffney on the Team B project, which compared the Sharia law’s supposed threat to the Constitution to of the threat posed by the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and has become a leader in the Religious Right, particularly The Oak Initiative. Boykin told radio show host and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson that he feared the next generation of American women will be forced to wear burkas, and he said in a speech to the influential Council for National Policy that Sharia law is well on its way to dominating the American political system:

It is in America already.  Sharia is here.  Folks, do you realize that every one of us that pays taxes, we are participating in Sharia Law?  Because we bailed out AIG, the largest purveyor of Sharia compliant insurance, we are all part of it and you don’t even know it.  It is incredible.  Sharia Law is in America and we are going the way of the Europeans.  Let me tell you, we are infiltrated.



We are infiltrated, our schools are infiltrated, our communities are infiltrated and our government is infiltrated.  You currently have in senior positions throughout this Administration, people that are known to be associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.  It is not just the Democratic Party; the Republican Party has been infiltrated.  Do you understand the conservative movement has been infiltrated?  You don’t just go and target one sector of our society if you want to change this society, you’ve got to go for the whole enchilada.  The conservative movement is infiltrated.  In fact, the next target will be the Tea Parties.

Gaffney, ever the conspiracy theorist, even claims that prominent conservative groups including the American Conservative Union and Americans for Tax Reform have become subservient to Sharia law and are tools of the Muslim Brotherhood “aimed at dividing, confusing, and ultimately destroying [us] from within our movement” because they have Muslim-Americans in leadership positions.

Presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, when he was governor of Minnesota, created and then quickly scrapped a lending program intended to help certain devout Muslims, who are prohibited from paying interest, obtain mortgages. Later, fearing accusations from his GOP competitors that the program represented an embrace of Sharia law, Pawlenty was quick to tell reporters that only three families obtained mortgages under the program and reassured the public that he would never let “religious laws” trump the Constitution. 

Some activists even claim that Sharia is infiltrating the United States through halal food. The AFA’s Fischer warned customers to watch out for food “blessed in the name of the demon-God Allah” and Pamela Geller of Stop Islamization of America accused Campbell’s of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood by making halal soups.

Most troublesome is that anti-Muslim activists rarely understand that Sharia is interpreted and reinterpreted in numerous ways throughout Muslim communities and primarily guides individual religious observance. Marshall Breger, a conservative law professor and vice chairman of the Jewish Policy Center commented: “There is a kind of open season on Islam now. It has been said that Sharia law should be outlawed, or that there are too many mosques in America. No one would say that Judaism should be outlawed, or that there are too many synagogues in America.” ,

Strategy Four: “Defend liberty” by taking freedoms away from Muslims

With unintentional irony, anti-Muslim activists demand the country strip Muslims of their freedoms in order to defend freedom for all. Criticizing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for pledging “a return to robust civil rights enforcement and outreach in defending religious freedoms,” Gaffney argued that “radical Muslims have proved adept at using such rights to thwart legitimate surveillance and other countermeasures by law enforcement,” and therefore those rights should be dispensed with.

Rep. Gohmert wants to end birthright citizenship for all children born on U.S. soil, claiming that Muslim immigrants come to the U.S. to give birth so their children can have citizenship and return later to commit acts of terrorism. Republican Reps. Ed Royce and Gary Miller of California attended ACT! for America’s notorious anti-Muslim demonstration in Orange County, California, framed as a “pro-America rally,” where hecklers harassed, jeered, and yelled at Muslim families and children attending a charity dinner. ,

Geller of Stop Islamization of America claimed that if Muslims are allowed the same rights as all Americans, they will “impose Islam” on the country and take away everyone else’s rights through “Islamic supremacism.” “I am telling you, your basic freedoms are under attack,” Geller said.

Oklahoma legislator Duncan said that the state’s Constitution needed to explicitly ban the use of Sharia law because “America was founded on Judeo-Christian values, and we’re unapologetically grateful that God has blessed America and blessed Oklahoma,” adding that his adversaries represent “the face of the enemy.” Lisa Ritchie, the head of an ACT! for America Kansas chapter, asserted, “The law that [Muslims] really do live under is completely different opposite from our law, so they can’t live side by side. So one’s got to go….We live in a free United States and I want to keep it like that.” ,

The ACLJ warns that freedoms granted to Muslim-Americans must be curtailed or they will use those freedoms to enforce Islamic law in U.S. courts. “Shari’ah, cloaked in terms of tolerance and free exercise of religion, is one of the primary vehicles by which Islamic rule is being stealthily ushered into the United States,” the group claims. The ACLJ also claims that the American tradition of cultural tolerance and respect is dangerous because the “success of political jihad in the United States is due largely to Muslims’ ability to use Westerners’ values of tolerance and political correctness against them.”

Strategy Five: Claim that Islam is not a religion

Anti-Muslim activists must somehow reconcile their claim that they are actually protecting freedom in America with their efforts to restrict religious freedom for Muslim-Americans.  Their audacious solution: to claim that Islam is not a religion, but a deadly political ideology.

Rep. West alleges that Islam is “not a religion” but a “theo-political belief system and construct” that must be destroyed. Similarly, Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition defended the King hearings by insisting that “Islam is a geo-political military system wrapped in a cloak of religious belief.” , Nonie Darwish of the group Former Muslims United endorsed efforts to block mosque construction by arguing that a “mosque is not just a place for worship…. It’s a place where war is started, where commandments to do jihad start, where incitements against non-Muslims occur. It’s a place where ammunition was stored.”

Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel, a conservative legal organization “dedicated to advancing religious freedom,” maintained that “the Muslim religion is Satanic, anything that is not of God and of Christ is of something else, and what it is of is the Enemy.” Fischer of the AFA commented that Islam is not a religion because “there is no spirit of God in Islam. It is the spirit of Satan.”

The ACLJ’s Jordan Sekulow urged state legislators to let his organization help them write laws banning the practice of Sharia, and Pat Robertson, who founded the ACLJ, has said that “Islam is not a religion” but “a political system bent on world domination.” , While discussing his organization’s opposition to a long-standing mosque in Wichita, Kansas, Randall Thomas of ACT! for America described the mosque as a “place where the Islamic ideology is studied and worshipped” and insinuated without any evidence that it had links to terrorists.

Strategy Six: Maintain that Muslims have no First Amendment rights under the Constitution

Anti-Muslim activists argue that because Islam is not a religion, Muslim-Americans are not protected by the First Amendment’s religious liberty provisions.  In the worldview of anti-Muslim activists, American Muslims intend to use, or abuse, America’s freedoms to empower their own “totalitarian” ideology. Gaffney writes: “Our enemies are using our tolerance of religion to create an infrastructure of mosques here that incubate the Islamic holy war called jihad” as part of a “stealthy ‘civilization jihad’ in this country.”

Opponents of a plan to build a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, aided by Gaffney, unsuccessfully tried to block construction by claiming in court that Islam is not a religion but a seditious political movement and therefore Muslims do not have First Amendment rights.

Cain said that the plan to build a mosque in Murfreesboro “is just another way to try to gradually sneak Shariah law into our laws,” arguing that the town should be allowed to go around the First Amendment and ban the construction of mosques. He went on to tell Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday that Islam isn’t just a religion but a “set of laws,” insisting that if a town banned a mosque it shouldn’t be considered “discriminating based upon religion.”

Boykin of Team B and the Oak Initiative also believes that the Constitution does not protect the civil rights of Muslims: “We need to realize that Islam itself is not just a religion - it is a totalitarian way of life…. It should not be protected under the First Amendment, particularly given that those following the dictates of the Quran are under an obligation to destroy our Constitution and replace it with Sharia law.”

While the ACLJ declares itself “specifically dedicated to the ideal that religious freedom and freedom of speech are inalienable, God-given rights,” it is leading the fight to stop the construction of the Park 51 Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan. ACLJ attorney Brett Joshpe freely admitted that the group intervened to prevent the development of the center because of the Muslim faith of its developers.

Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims,” wrote the AFA’s Fischer in March, even though his organization claims to defend “the rights of conscience and religious liberty from infringement by government.” Fischer continued: “Muslims have no First Amendment right to build mosques in America.”

ACT! for America founder Gabriel even urged the University of California, Los Angeles to ban the school’s chapter of the Muslim Student Association, asserting: “We demand that they be removed from campus on the grounds that their purpose is to conduct a stealth jihad against America through the indoctrination of our youth on college campuses.”

It shows how far this extreme view of the First Amendment has spread that Cain, who is running for the Republican nomination for President, stated on national television that Americans can protest and prevent the establishment of mosques in their neighborhoods or communities.  Cain’s claim flies in the face of the First Amendment to the Constitution and would be struck down in almost any court of law.

Strategy Seven: Link anti-Muslim prejudice to anti-Obama rhetoric

Republican politicians and anti-Muslim activists frequently attack President Obama by playing into fears that he is a secret Muslim who is using his presidency to weaken America.

Former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said,“We may have a president who has some fundamentally anti-American ideas that may be rooted in a childhood” that was different from the experiences of most Americans, because unlike Obama, “our communities were filled with Rotary Clubs, not madrassas.” Rep. Gohmert even argued on the House floor that a verbal slip by Obama exposed his secret loyalty to the Islamic world:

And I know the President made the mistake one day of saying he had visited all 57 states, and I’m well aware that there are not 57 states in this country, although there are 57 members of OIC, the Islamic states in the world. Perhaps there was some confusion whether he’d been to all 57 Islamic states as opposed to all 50 U.S. states. But nonetheless, we have an obligation to the 50 American states, not the 57 Muslim, Islamic states. Our oath we took is in this body, in this House. And it’s to the people of America. And it’s not to the Muslim Brotherhood, who may very well take over Egypt and once they do, they are bent upon setting up a caliphate around the world, including the United States. And this administration will have been complicit in helping people who want to destroy our country out of the ignorance to think, if you help your enemies, they’re going to like you better.

Stop Islamization of America’s Geller, who has compared Obama to Adolf Hitler, says the president is in the pocket of radical Islam: “Obama is a third worlder and a coward. He will do nothing but beat up on our friends to appease his Islamic overlords.” She went on to tell a Florida tea party rally, “The stealth jihad is very real. I’m talking about the academic, the economic, the legal, the social, and the cultural jihad in this country. It is a covert operation, although increasingly more brazen under Obama.”

Robert Knight, a writer for the Washington Times and executive director of the right-wing American Civil Rights Union, said that Obama has “emboldened” Muslims who want to “proclaim that they are working for establishment of sharia law” and “proclaim the fall of capitalism and the rise of Islam.”

Gabriel of ACT! for America has consistently cast doubts on President Obama’s Christian faith, saying she is “uncomfortable” with his upbringing in Indonesia and that she isn’t sure “if he became a born-again Christian.” Gaffney similarly claimed that “there is mounting evidence that the president not only identifies with Muslims, but actually may still be one himself.” Pipes has said that Obama was a Muslim who if he made a genuine conversion to Christianity would be considered an “apostate” to most Muslims, and that now Obama is mysteriously using NASA to reach out to Muslims.

Strategy Eight: Claim an “unholy alliance” exists that includes Muslims and other groups targeted by the Right Wing

According to anti-Muslim activists, Americans and organizations that defend the rights of Muslim-Americans are knowingly complicit in terrorism and are surreptitiously working to undermine America.

One of the main purveyors of the charge that progressives are secretly supporting terrorism is David Horowitz, who claims that there “are only a couple of degrees of separation between anybody on the left and the terrorists - and that includes people in the Democratic Party.” In Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the Radical Left, Horowitz said that both Muslims and progressives abhor America and American values. Erick Stakelbeck, the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “terrorism analyst,” explained that “the Left sees Islam as an ally and Western Civilization and the Judeo-Christian tradition is the enemy. They (Islam and the Left) have a shared hatred for this country.” National Review’s Andy McCarthy has repeatedly accused progressives, including President Obama, of supporting and collaborating with groups like the Muslim Brotherhood. Citing  McCarthy, Rep. Gohmert alleged that progressives “have thrown in” with terrorists:

You know the great irony, the extreme leftist media that is throwing in with the radical Jihadists, the great irony is, if the radical Jihadists took over, the first people they kill are the extreme leftists that have thrown in with them right now. They would not have the freedom of press to say the things that they want or disagree with the government, all of those things would go by the wayside. It is ironic that the two groups throw in together. In fact, my friend Andy McCarthy had a great article about how leftists and jihadists have thrown in together in this effort, not because they have anything at all in common other than that they hate conservatives and they don’t care that much for Christianity.

Former Fox News anchor Glenn Beck argued that left-wing groups were working with radical Muslims to build an Islamic caliphate, united by their supposed hatred of capitalism, Judaism and stability. Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) said that “al-Qaeda and the radical Islamists” have allied with “folks that want to destroy us from inside, the progressives and the socialists.” Geller suggested that the “uber-left” and radical Muslims are collaborating because the “hatred of America unites these radical groups.” Liberty Counsel’s Barber explains that the reason “radical Islam and radical progressivism” are supposedly cooperating is what he describes as their shared hatred of God:

A common enemy of radical Islam and radical progressivism, a common enemy is God’s truth, is Christianity, so they will unite together to try to destroy Christianity and people they see as the common enemy, particularly the one true sovereign creator of the universe, God and his son God-incarnate Jesus Christ. They will combine to try to destroy Christian principles and Christian expression in this country and abroad.

Immigrants and gays, who traditionally receive the brunt of the attacks from the far Right, have also been tied by anti-Muslim activists into these charges of creeping Sharia and widespread Islamic extremism.

ACT! for America’s Gabriel says the country needs to crack down on immigration because Islamic terrorists are being smuggled into the country by Latin American gangs. According to Gabriel, beheadings in Mexico are “strictfully [sic] an Islamic signature” and proof of a Muslim presence in human trafficking. “Iran knows they will head into confrontation with America sooner or later, [so] Iran is trying to set operation in the United States by smuggling [terrorists],” Gabriel says. “[Terrorists] are going directly into large cities. They are marrying American women, [and] they are infiltrating through so many areas.” Fischer of the AFA agrees, insisting that immigrants “must convert to Christianity” or be prohibited from coming into the U.S.

Activist Frank Turek  told American Family Radio that “the homosexual community and Muslim community [are] joining together” because they “both hate Western Civilization” and the Constitution. Turek claims that the two groups want to institute “totalitarianism” by banning criticism of themselves. Minnesota Religious Right leader and Rep.Michele Bachmann collaborator Bradlee Dean targeted Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison for his Muslim faith and support of LGBT equality, claiming “he wants to bring in Sharee [sic] law through the homosexual agenda” and is “using the homosexuals as a political battering ram to bring forth what? Sharee [sic] law.”

Earlier this year, presidential candidate Newt Gingrich told members of a Texas Church that secular humanists were somehow in league with Muslims to destroy America as we know it: “I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time [my grandchildren are] my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.”

Steps for activists

Share your personal story
Let us know how the Right’s attacks on Muslims have impacted you: your life, your community and our shared values of equality, freedom and liberty.

Send a letter to the editor
A carefully crafted letter to the editor of your local newspaper can be a great way to counter the demonization of the Muslim community. The more voices we have speaking out against the outrageous, un-American attacks coming from the Right Wing, the more we can focus on the issues that really do impact our safety, security and prosperity.

Call in to talk radio shows
Talk radio shows can be a great venue for progressive voices to counter the anti-Muslim rhetoric of the Right. By calling in, you have a platform to discuss your concerns and the American values you hold dear.

Write and Call Congress
It is always important for our congressional leaders to know that their constituents are not going to stand for the types of actions Rep. Peter King and others are proposing. We need our leaders to focus on safeguarding our freedom and security, not on false problems that divide Americans, marginalize religious minorities and dishonor the Constitution. The main number to the U.S. Congress is (202) 224-3121.

Write and Call your State Legislature
State legislators need to understand that aggressive Anti-Muslim policies on the state level don’t create a safe environment for their constituents. Citizen voices need to be heard to combat state laws that are unnecessary, discriminatory and unconstitutional.

Encourage friends to speak up
It is important to engage and educate our friends and neighbors about the issues that impact our collective freedom, equality and security. This is an opportunity for you to help turn up the volume of voices speaking out against the anti-Muslim vitriol coming from politicians and public figures on the state and national level.

Conclusion

The Muslim-American community is a growing and integral part of the extraordinary fabric of America’s peaceful pluralism.  According to law enforcement officials, Muslim-Americans have been an essential source for information and collaborative efforts to prevent and punish extremist violence.  Yet in a destructive and cynical ploy to stir divisions for short-term political gain, anti-Muslim activists and the politicians who lead or cheer on their efforts are undermining American values and devaluing the First Amendment, which protects the religious liberty of all Americans.

While anti-Muslim activists hope that Americans take their mischaracterizations of Islam at face value, events like the King hearings represent a valuable opportunity for Americans to speak out against the hatred and vitriol that has become all too commonplace in American politics.  If anti-Muslim activists succeed in fostering a government-led assault against the rights and freedoms of the Muslim-American community, we will have a country that is less secure and less free.
 

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