There is a very important characteristic that differentiates open and democratic countries from closed and authoritarian regimes. While closed societies can find a chance to confront their mistakes only when there are large-scale revolutions or breakthroughs, open societies have a chance to do the same because they have self-critical institutions and people.
The report, “Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” prepared by the Center For American Progress (CAP), which is known for its close ties to US President Barack Obama, reinforces this fact.
Due to trauma it suffered from on Sept. 11, the US experienced an intense drift regarding Muslims inside and outside of the country, while and it contradicted the values that it represented, resulting in grave mistakes made in its policies. However, names involved in a network that has misinformed American society about Islam and Muslims have now been unveiled.
The result of a fastidious, six-month study, the report started by pointing out the ties between the extreme right-wing supporter Anders Breivik, who went on a killing spree that shocked the world, and those who spread hatred against Islam in the United States. In the manifesto that he wrote about why he committed the massacre, Breivik mentioned Robert Spencer, who is known for spreading disinformation and hatred against Islam with his blog Jihad Watch, 162 times, well he referenced political activist Pamela Geller and conservative writer and policy advocate David Horowitz 12 times. The report revealed that those names who influenced Breivik work in well-financed institutions that work on disseminating disinformation against Islam.
Attention has been drawn to the effectiveness of the organizations engaged in misinformation designed to provoke Islamophobia, who, despite being few in number, have had a strong influence on public opinion. The organizations which channel funding to such groups were always the same. Researchers looking into these groups “followed the money,” and were able to discover the financers of Islamophobia. It is interesting that the same funds were supporting many Jewish organizations. Names from Islamophobia experts such as Daniel Pipes to Fox News, the media leg of the network, were exposed: They included David Horowitz of the Freedom Center, Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs, the Washington Times, the National Review, Christian Broadcast Network. The political and religious figures that lent a helping hand to the network were not forgotten either: Politicians such as Peter King, Allen West, Michele Bachman and Sue Myrick are carrying the message propagated by the misinformation experts into their political discourse, while religious leaders such as Pat Robertson, John Hagee, Ralph Reed and Franklin Graham were also taking part in the campaign.
One important observation that came out of the research was that the campaign recently launched against the Gülen Movement in the US is the work of the same network. The Eagle Forum, financed by the same organizations, drew public attention to charter schools run by Turks in the US, while attempting to spread Islamophobia. The forum organized a conference series titled “How to Take Back America” in 2009, and also launched a smear campaign against the Gülen Movement together with Gabriel Gaffney in St. Louis in March 2011. Propaganda was spread to the effect that the movement was attempting to spread a radical understanding of Islam and instill hatred of the US in children. What we are facing is not a just one more case of increased Islamophobia in the post-Sept. 11 world; there is a network working to instill the hatred of Islam in society.
Of course one must not overlook groups that objectify Islam in Muslim countries, particularly in Turkey, while speaking of networks that spread Islamophobia in the West. According to the “Fear Corporation” report, those who finance Islamophobia in the US and give it media support are all in the civilian realm. In Turkey, on the other hand, in the domestic anti-Islamic campaign, important governmental organizations as well as civilians are taking leadership roles. Think of the official websites targeting Islam, the Justice and Development (AK) Party and Gülen. Let’s see who will write a report on these “fear corporations” and the forces behind them.