Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting on Islamophobia: tip toes to the edge but won’t jump in

FAIR\'s Smearcasters report now available

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) has done us all a service by publishing this important downloadable report, Smearcasters: How Islamophobes spread fear, bigotry and misinformation. It is filled with a familiar right-wing cast of characters like self-styled “terrorism expert” Steve Emerson, inveterate Muslim-basher Daniel Pipes, David Horowitz “the Islamophobia movement’s premier promoter”, and Fox talking heads Sean Hannity and BIll O’Reilly.

So what’s wrong with the report? While FAIR documents numerous examples of false reporting, hyperbole, McCarthyite innuendo and pure hate promulgated by these people, they seem to self-censor and deliberately avoid the obvious: the central role played by US-based Likudnik groups in funding and promoting much of this anti-Muslim hysteria.

Beyond basic bigotry, why do right-wing Jewish and Christian “greater Israel” groups and individuals fuel these fires? As a few have stated publicly, some are motivated by the most basic calculation that Arab and Muslim Americans vote and can run for office. This is a threat. It’s good to keep them marginalized from the public discourse. And this stuff works.

But more than that, anti-Arab/Muslim demonization helps right-wingers conflate the US “war on terror ” with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Why? Instead of being forced to admit that Palestinian claims are legitimate and that therefore the Israeli government will have to make concessions, supporters of a greater Israel who don’t want to give one inch of land back to the Palestinians can simply say, “See, they’re all evil, they hate Western culture, they just want to kill us all. That’s why the US needs to continue to arm us against these less-than-human crazies.” And that works too. Except of course if you’re Palestinian. Or Muslim. Or Israeli, for that matter.

On page 6, FAIR’s report does start to suggest a larger connection beyond a random list of Muslim-hating individuals. They tip-toe up to the edge, but refuse to call the elephant in the living room.

Together, these Muslim-bashing outlets and pundits constitute what is, in effect, a network. Funded by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, a prominent right-wing foundation, Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum is connected to a range of other right-wing think tanks; its editors and editorial board include representatives from the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Pipes’ Campus Watch and Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch operate out of David Horowitz’s Freedom Center.

Hmmm… could we be talking about the Israel Lobby?

Hat tip R.G.

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