How, you may wonder, does a national political figure such as Newt Gingrich get away with defaming Islam in public like he recently did at the American Enterprise Institute? Sharia (the religious law of Islam), he stated, is “a mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it.”
The freedom Gingrich and others feel to defame Islam, as well as to claim “Sharia in its natural form has principles and punishments totally abhorrent to the Western world,” shows you the extent to which Islamophobia has become mainstreamed in the West.
It’s been a long time since slandering a major religion has been acceptable public discourse in the United States. How did we, as a nation, regress that far? The above quotes were excerpted by Wajahat Ali in the introduction to Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America, a report by the Center for American Progress for which he served as lead writer and researcher. It turns out writes Ali, that “7 funders have given $43 million over 10 years to a small, inter-connected group of individuals and organizations responsible for mainstreaming fear, bigotry and hate against Muslims and Islam in America.”
Geller and Spencer co-founded the organization Stop Islamization of America, a group whose actions and rhetoric the Anti-Defamation League concluded “promotes a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the guise of fighting radical Islam. The group seeks to rouse public fears by consistently vilifying the Islamic faith and asserting the existence of an Islamic conspiracy to destroy “American values.”
The only way that ideas this preposterous could gain currency in American culture is via, well, currency – in fistfuls. This is where the likes of Richard Mellon Scaife and his foundations come in. To find out who else funds Islamophobia, read the report (or its “executive summary“).