Duke University hosts town hall on funding of Islamophobic networks

If you're wondering why it's so pervasive, wonder no more:

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations says in a news release that Dr. Abbas Barzegar is scheduled to speak Saturday at a research-based advocacy town hall hosted by the Duke Graduate & Professional Student Council. The town hall will be held Saturday evening in the Schiciano auditorium of Fitzpatrick building on Duke's campus.

In addition to discussing research on funding of hate groups, Barzegar will highlight CAIR's work on federal-level litigation related to criminal justice and government surveillance.

Just to give you an example of how effective these anti-Muslim propagandists are, CAIR itself has been labeled as a "hate group" by many (even in government) just for defending Islamic citizens who are/were attacked. But the work that Dr. Barzegar and his team have done has exposed something more insidious than just the hateful rhetoric. Much of the funding for these groups has been "laundered" through legitimate mainstream philanthropic funds, which serves to hide the identity of the bigots behind the movement. Since most reading this will not be able to attend the town hall, here are some excerpts from the Report itself:

The report finds that the Islamophobia Network has been drawing upon mainstream American philanthropic institutions for financial and political support for years. CAIR researchers have found 1,096 organizations responsible for funding 39 groups in the Islamophobia Network between 2014 and 2016. The report also reveals the total revenue capacity of the Islamophobia Network during this period to have reached at least $1.5 billion. As this report demonstrates, many of these anti-Muslim groups, usually considered marginal or fringe, are in fact funded by mainstream American charitable organizations such as Fidelity Charitable Fund, the National Christian Charitable Foundation, and the Jewish Communal Fund.

While some funds and foundations are ideologically aligned with the interests of the Islamophobia Network, most mainstream foundations are more than likely being exploited or used by donors who seek to anonymize their contributions to anti-Muslim special interest groups. This report allows stakeholders to determine whether they are directly or indirectly connected to the Islamophobia Network. By mapping the flow of funding from charitable organizations to anti-Muslim advocacy groups, and their negative impact on public life, this report asks, “Should the American philanthropic community divest from the Islamophobia industry?”

Just a quick word about people (who should know better) standing on the sidelines: Even before the 9/11 attacks, America was deeply suspicious and fearful of Muslims. I can distinctly remember the Iranian Revolution, and the (444) days our Embassy people were held hostage. But I also remember living with Muslim soldiers for several weeks in the Sahara Desert. Training with them, eating meals side--by-side, and a lot of laughing. They would give you their last drop of water, the shirt off their back, the food on their plate, without batting an eye. It's not merely "generosity," it is a way of life. I learned to be a better person thanks to my Islamic friends, although I didn't realize it at the time.

So the next time you catch yourself holding back when some jackass is pontificating about the dangers of Muslims, speak up. You don't have to be "learned" in their culture to recognize bigotry against them, you just have to be aware. Back to the report:

At length, Islamophobia is a fear, hatred, or prejudice toward Islam and Muslims that results in a pattern of discrimination and oppression. Islamophobia creates a distorted understanding of Islam and Muslims by transforming the global and historical faith tradition of Islam, along with the rich history of cultural and ethnic diversity of its adherents, into a set of stereotyped characteristics most often reducible to themes of violence, civilizational subversion, and fundamental otherness. Islamophobia must also be understood as a system of both religious and racial animosity that is perpetuated by private citizens as well as cultural and political structures.

Contemporary Islamophobia is shaped and reinforced through popular culture and news media and is often legitimized by state policies. As such, anti-Muslim racism occurs at both individual and institutional levels, and can take many forms. At private and local levels, Islamophobia may manifest as physical attacks or harassment against those perceived to be Muslim, or through damage to mosques and Islamic centers. Anti-Muslim racism on the part of government structures often emerges in the creation and enforcement of anti-Muslim laws and policies that directly or indirectly lead to the curtailment of Muslim civil rights and civil liberties.

This includes, for example, the unconstitutional Muslim Ban, anti-Shariah legislation, surveillance practices, and a host of other national and foreign policy measures. While there is an ongoing debate between academics and practitioners over a final definition of Islamophobia as a term, it should be noted that in 2018, the All Party Parliamentary Group (aapg) in the uk officially adopted a definition of the term grounded in the concept of structural racism discussed here, signaling the importance of tackling the subject at the highest levels of government.19 They defined it as, “a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”

Just in case you forgot, Republicans in the NC General Assembly already passed anti-Sharia legislation six years ago:

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory [official website] on Sunday allowed a bill that prohibits North Carolina judges from considering Islamic law in their decisions to become law. House Bill 522 [text, PDF] prevents courts from applying foreign law in divorce, alimony and child custody actions, if doing so would violate a person’s federal or state constitutional rights. Although the bill does not specifically identify Islamic law, critics argue that the bill’s only purpose is to invoke anti-Muslim sentiments since the US Constitution already supersedes foreign law. In an action alert [text] urging McCrory to veto the bill, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) [advocacy website] stated “The bill itself is intended to marginalize and stigmatize North Carolina Muslims and will have a negative impact on the rights of people of all faiths and backgrounds.” In a statement [press release] Friday, McCrory deemed the law “unnecessary,” but revealed that he would allow the bill to become law without his signature.

Even McCrory knew it was wrong, but he didn't have the cojones to actually fight against it with a Veto.