Americans increasingly view Muslims as a threat to their security, especially Republicans. According to a Pew Charitable Forum survey in 2017, 65 percent of Republicans believe there is a "natural conflict between Islam and democracy." Amusingly, 56 percent of Americans polled by CivicScience in 2019 said American students should not be required to learn Arabic numerals (i.e.: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,0) as part of their educational curriculum. A 2018 Chapman University poll noted that – although prejudice against Muslims had fallen somewhat between 2016 and 2018 – more than 60 percent of Republicans believed"Muslims are more likely to engage in terrorist activity than non-Muslims" and nearly 40 percent said America should end immigration from all Muslim countries.
None of those attitudes are an accident. Nor are they the result of the rare blowback from America’s interventions abroad.
The attitude of a fundamental struggle between the Muslim world and the West is being engineered, and it is not a result of a natural conflict among the Muslim people with democracy. Muslims have seen their popularly elected governments repeatedly overturned in U.S.-based coups d’etat, from Syria (1949) to Iran (1953) to Egypt (2013). Instead, the "Muslim terror threat" is being manufactured with millions of dollars in donations to virulently anti-Muslim hate-groups from establishment sources with deep ties to the Military-Industrial-Surveillance Complex (MISC).
Only through the propagation of negative stereotypes about Muslims (and, to a lesser extent, Hispanics) can wars in the Middle East and coups in Latin America remain politically sustainable. If Americans see immigrant Muslims from Middle Eastern countries as fellow human beings who act logically (if, at times, desperately) as a result of U.S. government military malfeasance abroad, their fears will likely fade and aggressive US wars become politically untenable.
Key Islamophobia Foundations and Financiers
Donors to organizations promoting war-hype-related immigrant-phobia, particularly in the form of Muslim immigration, include former AIPAC board member Nina Rosenwald and her family foundation (The Abstraction Fund), hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer and his family foundations, Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust the Newton D. & Rochelle F. Becker Foundations and Charitable Trust, the giant evangelical National Christian Fund, and establishment Wall Street "charitable" funds such as Vanguard Charitable, Goldman Sachs Philanthropic Fund and Schwab Charitable. Though many of these foundations are hardly household names, through them the Islamophobic industry is made flush with cash and is backing up public opinion for war (or at least public indifference to war) .
As a result, organizations funded by these donors can continue to promote fake news that hypes the alleged Muslim threat to America, such as:
- Gatestone Institute (Muslim refugee rape crisis in Sweden)
- Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum (No-go zones in European refugee areas)
- The Clarion Project (Muslim extremist camps in the US)
Donors Trust: The Fear-Funding Front
Donors Trust is the granddaddy funnel for all anti-immigrant and pro-war funding sources. The organization boasts of doling out $1.1 billion since its 1999 founding, and it acts as a sort of anonymizer for big political donors for a host of right-wing/Republican issues, from climate change skeptics to Koch Brothers foundations to anti-immigrant causes.
Donors Trust operates as a shell foundation for the super-rich, through which they can designate funds for their pet causes. One of the key causes anonymized by Donors Trust is fear of immigrants. Among the recipients of Donors Trust funds are Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum, Numbers USA, the Center for Immigration Studies, the Federation for Immigration Reform, Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, The Clarion Project, the Middle East Media Research Institute, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch, Concerned Women for America, David Horowitz Freedom Center, and others.
The investigative website Sludge has conducted some important research on this topic, and found that Donors Trust and three other "donor-advised funds" (also including Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, Schwab Charitable Fund, and Vanguard Charitable) donated more than $7 million over three years to anti-immigration or anti-Muslim organizations designated hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Sludge also noted in a follow-up report that Goldman Sachs Philanthropic Fund had given $50,000 to the virulently anti-Muslim Clarion Project in 2015-17, along with donations from Vanguard Charitable ($875,000) and Schwab Charitable Fund (nearly $250,000).
While the National Christian Foundation focuses mainly on other issues, it has also funded anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant organizations, according to research by Sludge: "Anti-Muslim groups ACT for America ($98,000), American Freedom Law Center ($40,000), David Horowitz Freedom Center ($40,000), and Virginia Christian Alliance ($3,600) have received thousands from NCF since mid-2014, and anti-immigrant nonprofits American Border Patrol ($100) and The Remembrance Project ($2,500) also got NCF funding." That’s small potatoes when compared to Donor’s Trust, which has given tens of millions to the Clarion Project alone in the first decade of this century. But the National Christian Foundation is still a player on the modern day Know Nothing map.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) estimates the total funding of anti-Muslim sources from foundations to be nearly $1.5 billion over the three-year 2015-17 period. In fairness, the CAIR numbers include hundreds of millions given to Christian fundamentalist groups that have also published anti-Islamic theological statements and are not in the vanguard of promoting war-fever with Muslim countries. In short, Christian-aligned foundations are followers more than leaders in war-fever propaganda.
Interestingly, the Southern Poverty Law Center (which has had internal problems of its own in recent months) doesn’t designate one of the most prominent wholesalers of fiction about Muslims a "hate group" (The Gatestone Institute), even though more moderate groups such as the Center for Immigration Studies have made their hate lists.
Gatestone Institute: The Lie Factory
But it’s in the Gatestone Institute where the very worst elements of the neo-con warmongers, deep state spy agency officials and the Israeli lobby have coalesced. The Gatestone Institute disseminates the most outrageous lies about Muslim migration as a result of the West’s wars in the Islamic Ummah, and they are retailed largely through conservative media organs.
Gatestone hoaxes, such as the phony Muslim rape wave in Sweden (The government’s rape statistics hit the stratosphere after a 2005 Swedish government law that designated some consensual sex acts as "rape"), have been reliably copied from Gatestone origins to Breitbart, Alex Jones’ InfoWars, the John Birch Society’s The New American magazine, and others. The Gatestone Institute has also continued to promote the idea of "no-go zones" in European communities where Muslim immigrants had settled, even though the originator of the phrase, anti-Muslim academic Daniel Pipes, was forced to recant his earlier claims about this myth. Undaunted, Gatestone authors have continued to manufacture lies about the mythical zones of Sharia in Europe. And Gatestone has also hyped an alleged "crime wave" in Germany – which has admitted a large number of Muslim refugees – although the country has experienced the lowest crime rates since reunification in 1992. Despite record-low crime rates, Gatestone authors continue to beat the drums of an immigrant crime wave in Germany.
The transmission of Islamophobic lies from Gatestone to Breitbart is a natural distribution, as it was part of a vertical corporate merger of sorts in the war-hate industrial alliance. Hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer sold his interest in Breitbart to his daughter Rebeckah beginning in 2018, who sits on the board of the Gatestone Institute. This makes for a more reliable and direct channel for anti-Muslim, pro-war propaganda making its way onto the Breitbart platform.
The founding force behind the Gatestone Institute is Sears & Roebuck heiress Nena Rosenwald. Rosenwald’s family foundation is The Abstraction Fund, and she is a former board member of AIPAC, the most powerful Israeli lobby in the United States. Gatestone gets its money from Rosenwald and her foundations, Long Island real estate developer Lawrence Kadish, the Mercer family foundations (complete donations in 2014), and Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum.
But the Gatestone Institute has strong ties to Deep State military and intelligence agencies, with its past Chairman John Bolton now serving as Trump’s National Security Advisor. Longtime Defense Department employee Harold Rhode also sits on the board; he was a key part of Bill Kristol’s "Project for a New American Century" that ginned up the case for war against Iraq in the early years of Bush the less. Former Bush-era Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Clinton-era CIA Director R. James Woolsey also serve on the Gatestone board, along with Richard Kemp, a former British soldier and intelligence officer.
And it’s not just through neoconservative/Republican/right-wing platforms where Gatestone disseminates its anti-Muslim hysteria. Kadish, though a top Republican Party donor for decades, has been published in the Huffington Post repeatedly. So has Moroccan journalist Ahmed Charai, who is also on the Gatestone board of directors.
The massive fear of immigrants generated by establishment “think-tanks” such as the Gatestone Institute is what makes wars in the Middle East politically sustainable over time.
The establishment wants Americans to fear immigrants. The more Americans fear their fellow human beings as a sub-human native criminal class, the more power it gives the Military-Industrial-Surveillance Complex.
If the war party wanted to gin-up a war against Britain or France by telling the American people about the threatening British and French nuclear programs, or about Franco-hate against America, they’d be laughed out of office, measured for straight-jackets and escorted to the nearest sanitarium. But after tens of millions of dollars in propaganda deriding Muslim as vicious America-haters, it’s a different story. Too much of the US general population is unfamiliar with Muslims as people and has become inoculated against opposition to attacking nations – like Iran – that have never attacked the United States.
Nativists have been using the same playbook for 180 years. The charges against Muslims and Latin Americans today are identical to the claims against Irish Catholic immigrants by the Know Nothings of the 1840s: Immigrants are prone to crime and terrorism, they’re both lazy and take American jobs, they go on the dole too much, they don’t assimilate, they’re not loyal to the United States because of their religion, etc.
There is some good news. Chapman University polls show a decline in fear of Muslims from 2016 to 2018. And the Chapman University poll data showed that more Americans are afraid of the US President than immigrants. But a renewed propaganda push by the Deep State may reverse these gains as the Pentagon looks forward to a war against Iran.
It’s up to antiwar activists to expose this propaganda campaign.
Thomas R. Eddlem is a freelance writer and his latest book A Rogue’s Sedition: Essays Against Omnipotent Government is available at Amazon.com.