Middle East studies in the News
Tweeting Islamist Propaganda [incl. John Esposito, Ann Norton]
by Deborah Weiss
"Nothing bad happened in the West after the publication of the Danish cartoons in 2006. Nobody died." "There is no more anti-Semitism in the West anymore. The 'Jewish Question' has been settled with equality."
These are just some of the lies spewed forth by "esteemed panelists" at the launch of Georgetown University's Bridges Initiative, which embodies a new approach and stepped up efforts for the Islamist propaganda campaigns waged by the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU).
On April 30, 2015, in Jesuit Georgetown University's Healy Hall, amidst paintings of priests and Christian imagery, The Bridges Initiative was launched. The event was titled, "A Conversation on Islamophobia" . The motto of the campaign is "Protecting Pluralism – Ending Islamophobia."
Opening remarks by John Esposito , Director of the ACMCU, whose pockets are lined with Saudi money, explained that Islamophobia is not a about Muslims but about pluralism. "Tea party types like Pamela Geller, [sic] tweets to her followers to protest, and this causes Bill O'Reilly to have a show on Fox News." Then pop culture through its arbiter of social media, especially Pamela Geller's blog, influences Islamophobic activists without "alternative narratives." The Islamophobia industry is not arbitrarily popping up, he explains. It exists due to funding and networks. And, for reasons Esposito can't quite figure out, Islamophobia is worse in Europe.
Ann Norton , Professor of "Muslim Political Thought" at the University of Pennsylvania was the first speaker and is responsible for the above comments on the Danish cartoons and anti-Semitism. According to Norton, "every period of time has its challenges" and in the 19th century, people were afraid of "Jewish terrorists". This fear became bigotry and was the reason for anti-Semitism prior to the Holocaust. But now, in the West, the "Jewish Question" has been resolved. Too bad the Jews fleeing France in droves due to (primarily Islamic) anti-Semitism haven't heard the good news.
Currently, Norton explains, the same thing is happening with Muslims. There is terrorism and thus fear, which has turned into "bigotry" against Muslims. (Please note that prejudice by definition is a pre-judgment, and not a post-judgement based on a particular group's behavior.) Never-the-less, Norton says, people "perceive" that Islam doesn't treat women well and "perceive" that it is in opposition to free speech. "But some speech puts our national security at risk!" (Of course, it wouldn't if all Muslims would refrain from responding to speech violently.) The real problem, is "the indictment of the West, the shame of Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, and indefinite detention." Yeah, that's the problem. Well, what can one expect from the author of a book titled, "Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire "?
Norton insists that drawing a cartoon of the Muslim Prophet Mohammad is A-OK in Islam, but the problem is doing it repeatedly to tell us what we must say: that some are trying to "oblige people to praise bigotry" and to be "pro-Israel". After all, freedom of speech includes the freedom to refrain from speech. And, well, it really is awful that all those Islamophobes are pointing guns to the heads of Americans forcing them to support Israel!
Norton rejects the notion of a clash of civilizations and iterates that accepting Islam and Muslims is the true challenge of whether America accepts Western values of tolerance. Islam is "the 'Other' of Democracy" she states. ("Otherizing Muslims" was a theme throughout the conference). And yet, she is an admitted fan of the Muslim Brotherhood theologian, Sayyid Qutb , author of "Milestones" because he supported private property rights.
Ms. Norton is a strange amalgamation of radical leftist politics and support for Islam. She likes the powerful image of the Bridge, because it brings people closer together. Of course, the ACMCU's bridge flows in only one direction – towards the Islamization of America.
The next speaker, Mehdi Hasan , an Aljazeera presenter, asserted that there is rampant Islamophobia and anti-Muslim "hysteria" in the West. "You can say things about Muslims … that you can't say about any other group." He repeatedly made false analogies, pointing out that all the negative comments stated in public discourse regarding Muslims would be unacceptable if one substituted the word "Jews." Apparently, facts make no difference. He also focused on the Muslim as "the Other", incorrectly implying that Islam and Judeo-Christian values are in sync. He brought up numerous newspaper headlines to demonstrate negative commentary about Islam or Muslims, erroneously claiming the facts asserted were untrue. For example, he claimed it's a lie that some UK banks stopped using piggy banks due to Muslim offense. Yet, UK banks  have done exactly that.
Hasan also did a very good job of identifying the "Islamophobia industry's" positions and countering them, calling many of them "myths". Citing the leftist Center for American Progress' "Fear, Inc ." as support for his contention that funding and networks that have given rise to Islamophobia, he also argued that Islamophobia is "immoral and dangerous", making "extremism" more appealing to mainstream Muslims.
The final speaker was Roland Schatz , President of Media Tenor International. (The subtitle on his website is "creating perceptions"). His organization focuses on statistical research and strategic media analysis. The bulk of his presentation consisted of charts and graphs created over the last 15 years, monitoring whether news reporting was positive, negative, or neutral on subjects including terrorism and Islam. The accuracy of the news reports was not addressed.
Schatz' organization is pushing a book titled, "Constructive News ." He has given up on getting the media to drop negative reporting on Islam and Muslims. Now, he's resorting to asking news media to make things balanced. Schatz believes that every time the media reports a negative incident about Muslims, it should also report a positive incident. If it can't find one, the negative incident should be omitted.
Additionally, Schatz is upset by America's "obsession" with Muslims and freedom of speech. "My right to freedom stops where yours starts," he proclaimed. However, the examples he gave indicated a right to be free from insult, a right conspicuously absent from the U.S. Constitution. It made him angry that politicians world-over participated in France's unity march after the murders at Charlie Hebdo magazine. "Je ne suis pas Charlie Hebdo!" he declared, followed by an outburst of audience applause.
Schatz insists that freedom of speech and other freedoms should not be singled out as special, but rather there should only be one word that includes all freedoms equally, "freedom!" Of course, this is entirely false, as not all freedoms are equal. Some are considered fundamental, some rights are enabling rights, without which other rights would not exist. Indeed, freedom of speech is unique, is fundamental, and is more important and central to fundamental human rights than many other "rights" are.
Schatz claims that the public is victim to bigoted, Islamophobic media, and therefore can't be blamed. It is up to Muslims to join panels, the media, and become involved so "another voice" can be heard. After all, Islamophobia really has nothing to do with Islam. It's "xenophobia" similar to bigotry against Catholics when they first arrived in the U.S, and such "racism" is institutionalized. Like Hasan, Schatz believes that the West is baselessly treating Muslims like "the Other."
Finally, Schatz accused the manufactured "Islamophobia industry" of publishing works from "pseudo experts" and "faux reports" all due to a closely-weaved network of activists, policy experts, think tanks and politicians, funded by a few Islamophobic foundations. Yes, we are all rich and doing this for the money!
It is likely no coincidence that the theological underpinnings of Islam, which refer to Jews as "apes and pigs " and treat non-Muslims as dhimmis  or worse, were entirely absent from this seminar, as was a discussion of Islamic terrorism. Instead of acknowledging that so-called "Islamophobia" might result from the actions taken by a global Islamist movement, the assumption was all "anti-Islam" sentiment constitutes bigotry. Continually conflating "Islam" and "Muslims", panelists failed to acknowledge that the public might have legitimate concerns about Islamic terrorism, Islamic persecution of religious minorities, and human rights violations committed in the name of Islam. Yet, in America and Europe, where Muslims are free and equal, the public and media is accused of "otherizing" them, despite the fact that Shariah law is the ultimate Otherizer.
The charge of a "manufactured Islamophobia industry" which arises out of nothing more than networks for the sake of money is laughable. While a few make a nice living derived from funding, the majority involved in this movement have made great sacrifices for the Cause because of its importance. Moreover, its funding pales in comparison to the Saudi and Soros money  that goes to support the anti-Islamophobia industry, which actually is manufactured. The facts speak for themselves: Islamic doctrine, Shariah law, the jihadists own words, Saudi Arabia's and Iran's theocratic laws, all provide indisputable evidence for the claims of the anti-Shariah movement. Accusations of money, networks and faux reports, made by those who accept Saudi money and deny the evils of Shariah law, constitute a classic example of psychological projection. Everything this panel accused the "Islamophobia industry" of doing, is something they are doing  themselves.
The Bridges Initiative appears to be distinguishable from Georgetown's past anti-Islamophobia campaigns in that it aspires to collect data from, and act as a repository for, seemingly objective data including charts, surveys, articles, news and statistics, provided by high profile professors, think tanks and policy "experts" to give it an air of legitimacy. It plans to funnel this body of work through Facebook, Twitter and other social media, hoping it will go viral and preferably undisputed.
The ACMCU and other Saudi-funded and interfaith programs have long been centers of indoctrination of America's youth, teaching them in an Orwellian fashion that America is evil and the Muslim world is Victim.
Those who work on national security issues realize that we have to identify the ideological enemy in order to defeat it. But, Georgetown's new program demonstrates that it is equally imperative that America also knows herself. One way or another, students must be inculcated with knowledge of the US Constitution, American history, and the fragility of freedom, in order to fight for its continuance, and not fall prey to politically correct, but factually false programs, like ACMCU's Bridges Initiative.
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Article printed from FrontPage Magazine: http://www.frontpagemag.com
URL to article: http://www.frontpagemag.com/2015/deborah-weiss/tweeting-islamist-propaganda/
URLs in this post:
 Image: http://www.frontpagemag.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Esposito.jpg
 Georgetown University's Bridges Initiative: http://bridge.georgetown.edu/
 A Conversation on Islamophobia": http://guevents.georgetown.edu/event/the_bridge_initiatives_launch_celebration#.VVO0zaJFB2Y
 John Esposito: http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=2197
 Ann Norton: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/may/10/muslim-question-anne-norton-review
 Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire: http://interpretationjournal.com/IJ32_3SchaeferNorton.pdf
 Sayyid Qutb: http://mappingsharia.com/?page_id=99
 Mehdi Hasan: https://britishsecularmuslims.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/british-secular-muslims-reject-mehdi-hasans-apologist-stance-on-wahhabi-deobandi-terrorism/
 UK banks: http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/396
 Fear, Inc: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/religion/report/2015/02/11/106394/fear-inc-2-0/
 Roland Schatz: http://www.islamicstudies.harvard.edu/conference/speakers/roland-schatz/
 Constructive News: http://us.mediatenor.com/en/library/reports/485/constructive-news-ulrik-haagerup
 Jews as "apes and pigs: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/memrireport.html
 dhimmis: http://www.meforum.org/1483/islam-and-dhimmitude
 Soros money: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/mike-ciandella/2015/02/17/soros-10-million-funds-group-slamming-conservative-islamophobia
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