The report, “Fear Inc: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” demonstrates that a small group of self-proclaimed experts (Frank Gaffney, David Yerushalmi, Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, and Steve Emerson) backed by a host of foundations and donors (many of which also fund the lobby) have put Islamophobia on the map.
To put it simply, without these “experts,” their donors, and Fox News (their media mouthpiece) you would never have heard that a Muslim community center (the “Ground Zero Mosque”) was being constructed in New York City. And the center certainly would not have become a major news story. Nor would Republican (and even a few Democratic) candidates for president, Congress, and even village councils be called upon to condemn Islam and “Sharia Law” or face being labeled a supporter of terrorism. Nor would Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Rick Santorum have made hatred of American Muslims such an integral part of their campaigns.
Immediately after news of the bombing of government buildings in Norway’s capital Oslo, the Internet buzzed with speculation about who might have done it and why. Most speculation focused on so-called Islamist militancy and Muslims. The urge to speculate after grave events is understandable, but the focus of speculation, its amplification through social media, its legitimization in mainstream media, and the privilege granted to so-called experts is a common pattern. The danger of such speculation is that it adds little knowledge but causes real harm by spreading fear and loathing of Muslims, immigrants and other vulnerable and routinely demonized populations, and whether intentional or not, assigns collective guilt to them.