Posted by on October 01, 2011 in Blog

Here at the National Leadership Conference, the afternoon domestic policy session featured a follow-up to the morning policy session on “Combating Hate Legislation.” The follow-up panel, entitled “Islamophobia: the New Politics of Exclusion” featured renowned scholars Wajahat Ali, attorney and principal author of the Center for American Progress’ report: Fear, Inc.: the Roots of Islamophobia, and Matt Duss, Policy Analyst, and Director of Middle East Progress at the Center for American Progress (CAP). 

The panel, moderated by AAI Executive Director Maya Berry, was an impressive analysis of the incestuous circle of right wing bloggers and activists behind the a 43-million dollar industry spreading fear and bigotry nationwide aimed primarily at Arab Americans and American Muslims. 

Wajahat Ali began the session by summarizing the results of CAP’s recent report on Islamophobia - a 135 page analysis of the complex network of money and individuals behind the growing fear-mongering of Islam that has sadly become increasingly pervasive in far right wing political circles throughout the country.

The report reveals a stunning picture of a multimillion-dollar industry that has evolved over the last several years, which provides its founders and principal supporters with an estimated 200,000 - 500,000 dollars in personal income annually.

Mr. Ali artfully walked the audience of community leaders through the intricate web of money and hate perpetuated by a surprisingly small number of individuals. Mr. Ali identified three major aspects of the network: the money trail, the central nervous system, and the grassroots efforts behind this growing movement. 

Moving from individual to individual and group to group, Mr. Ali painted a vivid picture of right-wing radicals, each individually profiting from the spread of fear and hate. He pointed out that much of this work became the basis of the 1500-page manifesto left behind by Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, who early in July killed 76 people in a terrorist attack motivated by a desire to stop the migration of Arabs and Muslims into western Europe. 

Mr. Ali explained that the five individuals most responsible for the growing Islamophobia movement were quoted no less than 200 times in the writings of Anders Berhing Breivik. As Mr. Ali put it, “words matter!” 

Mr. Ali was then joined by co-author Matt Duss who proceeded to expand upon many of the points made by Mr. Ali. Mr. Duss commented on the need to identify and marginalize these individuals, a sentiment that was then echoed by Ms. Berry and Mr. Ali. 

Following the enlightening presentation, the panelist took questions from the audience on the need to organize and mobilize to fight back against this small number of individuals responsible for poisoning the minds of the American public. 

Concluding the presentation, Linda Sarsour, Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York asked perhaps the most salient and difficult question of the hour; namely, how we as a community can better engage in the PR battle to combat these bigoted and hateful elements of our society. 

comments powered by Disqus