Max Blumenthal has a deeply reported new piece, The Great Islamophobic Crusade, tracking the growth of the network of think tanks and front groups cultivating and exploiting hostility toward Muslims and Islam for conservative political gain:
Erupting so many years after the September 11th trauma, this spasm of anti-Muslim bigotry might seem oddly timed and unexpectedly spontaneous. But think again: it’s the fruit of an organized, long-term campaign by a tight confederation of right-wing activists and operatives who first focused on Islamophobia soon after the September 11th attacks, but only attained critical mass during the Obama era. It was then that embittered conservative forces, voted out of power in 2008, sought with remarkable success to leverage cultural resentment into political and partisan gain.
This network is obsessively fixated on the supposed spread of Muslim influence in America. Its apparatus spans continents, extending from Tea Party activists here to the European far right. It brings together in common cause right-wing ultra-Zionists, Christian evangelicals, and racist British soccer hooligans. It reflects an aggressively pro-Israel sensibility, with its key figures venerating the Jewish state as a Middle Eastern Fort Apache on the front lines of the Global War on Terror and urging the U.S. and various European powers to emulate its heavy-handed methods.
Walid Shoebat, a onetime Muslim who converted to Christianity, also lectures to local police. He too believes that most Muslims seek to impose sharia law in the United States. To prevent this, he said in an interview, he warns officers that “you need to look at the entire pool of Muslims in a community.”
When Shoebat spoke to the first annual South Dakota Fusion Center Conference in Sioux Falls this June, he told them to monitor Muslim student groups and local mosques and, if possible, tap their phones. “You can find out a lot of information that way,” he said.
As Blumenthal’s piece notes, Shoebat markets himself quite profitably as an ex-terrorist, speaking before conservative Christian and Jewish audiences to condemn Islam as a “satanic cult.” Numerous people have challenged Shoebat’s stories of his extremist past, and he’s widely regarded as a fraud.
It gets better, though. The article reports that Frank Gaffney, yes Frank Gaffney, “said his team” — that would be the team that wrote CSP’s “Shariah: The Threat to America” report — “has spoken widely, including to many law enforcement forums”:
“Members of our team have been involved in training programs for several years now, many of which have been focused on local law enforcement intelligence, homeland security, state police, National Guard units and the like,” Gaffney said. “We’re seeing a considerable ramping-up of interest in getting this kind of training.”
Government terrorism experts call the views expressed in the center’s book inaccurate and counterproductive. They say the DHS should increase its training of local police, using teachers who have evidence-based viewpoints.
Using teachers who have evidence-based viewpoints would be hugely beneficial to U.S. homeland security. This would, one expects, disqualify people who think that Obama is a Muslim, question whether Obama is an American citizen, or believe that the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s new logo is a sign of the president’s “submission to sharia.”