This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com.
Here are a couple of questions for you: If, in this country, terrorism is to be fought by travel bans, if (as Donald Trump once tweeted) "we don't want 'em here," then why are all the travel bans aimed at Muslims? If the most threatening terror types shouldn't be traveling either to or in this country, then why aren't there travel bans against white Americans? After all, in the United States, terror has actually been a remarkably ashen phenomenon and I'm not just thinking of young white supremacist Dylann Roof, who walked into Charleston's Mother Emanuel AME church and gunned down nine black parishioners in June 2015, or Stephen Paddock, the 64-year-old white retiree who slaughtered almost 60 people and wounded hundreds more from a Las Vegas hotel window in November 2017, the largest mass shooting by a single gunman in American history. Between 2008 and 2015, for instance, a majority of the 208 cases defined as terrorism in the United States (115 of them) were perpetrated by right-wing white extremists, almost double the number inspired by Islamic terrorism. Such attacks, the record seems to show, are also more likely to be deadly.
Except in cases like those of Dylann Roof and that Las Vegas massacre, such white acts are often not treated as a form of terror at all, but as so many random incidents of violence and are generally not given the kind of blanket media attention that those of self-proclaimed Islamist terrorists get. As comedian Ken Cheng put it: "Terrorism is one of the only areas where white people do most of the work and get none of the credit." And of course this has only become more obvious in the age of Trump, years in which, as TomDispatch regular Arnold Isaacs suggests today, a growing crew of Islamophobes, already professionalized and creating a stream of fraudulent propaganda about Islamist terrorism in this country, has become ever more influential in the world of the alt-right and beyond. Isaacs, who has been covering anti-Muslim bigotry in this country for this website, lays out today just how the Islamophobes make their "case." Tom
American Islamophobia's Fake Facts
Their "Proof" Is Not What They Say
By Arnold R. Isaacs- Advertisement -
Anti-Muslim activists in the United States were operating in a "post-truth era" and putting out "alternative facts" long before those phrases entered the language. For the last decade they have been spreading provable falsehoods through their well-organized network of publications and websites.
A major theme of those falsehoods is telling the U.S. public that Islam is inherently dangerous and that American Muslims, even if they do not embrace extremist religious beliefs or violent actions, are still a threat to national security. To back up that conclusion, the well-funded Islamophobia publicity machine incessantly repeats two specific assertions.
The first is that Muslims in this country have been engaged in a "stealth" or "civilizational jihad" -- a long-term, far-reaching conspiracy to infiltrate the U.S. legal system and other public institutions and bring America under Islamic law. The companion claim is that mainstream Muslim-American organizations are effectively "fronts" for the Muslim Brotherhood and so secretly controlled by international terrorists. In fact, the Brotherhood has not been designated as a terror organization by the U.S. government, and there are not the slightest grounds for thinking it, or any other secret force, controls any national Muslim-American group.- Advertisement -
The Islamophobes offer only two pieces of supporting "evidence," one for each of those claims. Exhibit A is a document falsely called the Brotherhood's "master plan" for the clandestine effort to establish Muslim dominance in the United States. Exhibit B is a list of several hundred "unindicted co-conspirators," including the Council on American Islamic Relations and other mainstream national Muslim organizations, that federal prosecutors put into the record during a 2007 terrorism-financing trial in Texas.
If you look at the exhibits themselves, instead of the descriptions of them by anti-Muslim groups, it's obvious that neither is what the Islamophobes say it is or proves what they allege it proves.
The Secret Plan That Wasn't
Let's start with the so-called master plan, a memorandum written nearly three decades ago that is not just the centerpiece but essentially the sole source for the tale of a "civilizational jihad" conspiracy.
The Islamophobia network unfailingly refers to the memorandum as an official declaration of Muslim Brotherhood strategy. Frank Gaffney, head of the Center for Security Policy and perhaps the country's most prominent Islamophobe, called it "the Muslim Brotherhood secret plan for taking down our country." Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, two other leading voices in the anti-Muslim chorus, have written that "the Brotherhood lays out a plan [in the document] to do nothing less than conquer and Islamize the United States."
Those statements are, however, unsupported by facts of any sort. The document, dated May 1991 and titled "An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America," is real, but there is no evidence that it represents the views of anyone other than the single Brotherhood member who wrote it. For that matter, no one has ever found any indication that anyone other than the author even saw the text, written in Arabic, until 13 years after it was completed, when it was coincidentally unearthed in a storage box during an FBI search of a home in Annandale, Virginia. No other copy is known to exist. Its wording makes it unmistakably clear that the writer was proposing a strategy to the Brotherhood's leadership, not presenting a plan approved by any authority. No evidence has come to light that suggests his proposals were ever considered, let alone adopted, by the Muslim Brotherhood leadership.- Advertisement -
Gaffney and the many other Islamophobes who cite it as proof of a "stealth jihad" threat against the United States have never presented additional documentation of any kind. No known Muslim Brotherhood correspondence or records refer to the memorandum, as one would expect if there had been a formal discussion of it or even an exchange between the author and any Brotherhood governing body.
After a careful search of available Brotherhood records, researchers at Georgetown University's Bridge Initiative, which combats Islamophobia, determined that neither the memorandum nor its specific proposals appear in any documents they found. That includes records from the Brotherhood Shura Council's 1991 meeting, where the memorandum's author had specifically asked to have it put on the agenda. Other investigators have similarly failed to find any trace of the memorandum in other records. David Shipler, who wrote about it at length in his book Freedom of Speech, calls it an "orphan document" -- and a childless orphan at that.
Taking Down Our Country? Not Exactly...