American Muslims 18 years after 9/11 – Page 2

Anti-Muslim Bigotry

Bigotry against Muslims is now pervasive and considered normal in the US society. Tennessee’s Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott posts a series of anti-Muslim comments on Facebook. In his Facebook posts, Northcott stated: Islam is an evil belief system. To deny that their religion teaches hate is also a denial of the truth. Practicing Muslims must kill anyone who doesn't accept their lie. Muslims are evil because they profess a commitment to an evil belief system and are no less evil because they don't act on their belief system if they refuse to disavow that system. To be Muslim is no different than being part of the KKK, Aryan Nation, etc. I will not be cowered into pretending that their belief system is legitimate or one of peace. We are fools if we don't recognize this and protect ourselves, our families, our communities and our country from succumbing to this present and growing threat. Take a look at what is happening in Europe and see if you want that for America.

The Sussex County (New Jersey) Republican Committee ran a Twitter page filled with offensive comments including a call to "eradicate Islam from every town, city, county and state in our homeland." The Twitter account includes retweets of memes with hateful language about Muslims and specifically about Muslim Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, calling them in one case "the enemy within."

"Islam is a growing threat in the United States of America," said Pastor Dr. Donald McKay, head minister at Bloomfield Hills Baptist Church, Michigan. It was written on the flier for an event on Sept 11 and 12. "I am an Islamophobe, I wear that badge proudly," he said adding: "We don't hate Muslims, we hate the ideology they are identified with." "We believe that Muslims, committed Muslims, that are familiar with their faith are committed really to the overthrown of the United States and to world domination," McKay said.

US charities fund fringe Islamophobia network

American philanthropic organizations, including mainstream foundations, have funneled tens of millions of tax-free dollars to anti-Muslim groups influencing public opinion and government policy all the way up to the White House, the nation's largest Muslim civil rights group said in a report in May.

In a report called Hijacked by Hate: American Philanthropy and the Islamophobia Network, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) documented how 1,006 charitable foundations provided nearly $125 million to 39 anti-Muslim groups between 2014 and 2016, the dates of the latest publicly available tax filings.

"Anti-Muslim animus and Islamophobic messages are now pervasive features of our country's mainstream political, legal, educational, and media landscapes because these ideas are perpetuated by organizations and institutions with deep and extensive sources of funding and deliberate political agendas," CAIR said in the report, adding that the 39 anti-Muslim groups it identified had combined financial resources of $1.5 billion.

"The money was used to support anti-Muslim legislation and policies, conduct anti-Muslim lobbying, distribute false and defamatory information to mainstream media and on social media, and run public campaigns promoting conspiracy theories," according to CAIR.

Some private funds and foundations, many on the evangelical and Zionist far-right, are ideologically aligned with the Islamophobia network's efforts to fuel anti-Muslim bigotry in politics and society. And a number of members of the Islamophobia web have deep connections to the White House, which under President Donald Trump has at times stoked anti-Muslim sentiment.

Whither Pluralism in the USA? Rise of white nationalism

Pluralism still remains a far cry in the USA where Christian evangelism and conservatism got rejuvenated by the presidency of Donald Trump, says author Dr. Habib Siddiqui. “More than a quarter of Americans identify themselves as  evangelists who see themselves as Jesus Christ’s soldiers for making the USA a Christian nation. Eighty percent of white evangelicals voted for and, by and large, continue to support President Trump. While such a support from the conservative wing of Christianity may seem like a fundamental contradiction, but to Trump’s faithful supporters, it is Providence at work in human history. They believe in Trump, and like any blind believers, they will not change their allegiance to him no matter what the ‘liberal’ media say about their beloved president.” 

It’s becoming a pattern with President Donald Trump: downplaying the seriousness of violence associated with white nationalism. A reporter asked Trump if he saw a global rise in white nationalism following reports that the Christchurch, New Zealand, shooter was steeped in the ideology.

Trump responded: "I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. I guess, if you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s a case. I don’t know enough about it yet."

According to PolitiFact, documenting incidents of white nationalism can be challenging. Nevertheless, data from multiple sources suggest extremist attacks associated with white nationalism and far-right ideology is on the rise. 

High-profile incidents in recent years include the mass shootings at a synagogue in Pittsburgh and at a black church in Charleston, as well as pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats.

Trump’s statements about the "fine people" on both  sides at the 2017 Charlottesville, Va., march, as well as his travel ban which lists several Muslim-majority nations, have all drawn more attention to reports about extremism.

The key question in determining whether an incident is driven by white nationalism is whether the perpetrator subscribed to the ideology as seen in organizational connections, social media or a personal manifesto.

That isn’t as clear as it sounds. There is no single definition of white nationalism, partly because of debatable overlap among white nationalists, the alt-right, the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis. Attempts to define these groups prompts more debate.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s growing list of hate groups, for example, has critics who say it maligns some conservative groups that are not extremists. The center says that the number of white nationalist groups  surged from 100 to 148 in 2018, noting that the groups have largely retreated from activism following the rally in Charlottesville. [PolitiFact]

Trump words linked to more hate crime
President Donald Trump has often railed about an “invasion of illegals” at the southern border, words echoed in a screed the El Paso,
Texas, shooting suspect apparently posted that called the attack that killed 22 people at a Walmart his response to a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Some extremism experts believe that may not be an accident. They say historical data suggests a link between heated rhetoric from top political leaders and ensuing reports of hate crimes, only adding to the fears of those who could be targeted. The rampage in Texas has brought new attention to the dangers of immigration-motivated hate crimes and violence in a country with 58 million Latinos amid daily political rhetoric from the White House, conservative politicians and the dark corners of the internet about migrants coming across the border.

A team from the University of North Texas recently produced a study that found counties that hosted a 2016 Trump campaign rally saw a 226% increase in reported hate incidents over comparable counties that did not host such a rally. “I’m convinced now that political rhetoric of elites influences the behavior of supporters,” said North Texas political science professor Valerie Martinez-Ebers. “This research confirms, at least in my mind, that the political rhetoric that’s happening today is influencing the American public’s actions.”

In July at a rally in Greenville, North Carolina, Trump questioned the patriotism of Somali-born Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and then stood silent for 13 seconds while the crowd loudly chanted,Send her back. Over the past year and a half alone, a man wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat pushed a Mexican immigrant onto the New York City subway tracks while shouting anti-Hispanic slurs. The Hispanic mayor of a Seattle suburb was assaulted from behind at a block party by a man who disparaged his ancestry and policies supporting Latino immigrants. And a New York attorney was caught on video yelling at customers and employees at a Manhattan restaurant, saying he supposed they were in the U.S. illegally and his next call would be to immigration authorities “to have each one of them kicked out of my country.” [Associated Press]

Self-proclaimed white nationalist dreamed of ways to ‘kill almost every last person on earth’

In February, a U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant and self-identified white nationalist has been arrested after federal investigators uncovered a cache of weapons and ammunition in his Maryland home that authorities say he stockpiled to launch a widespread domestic terrorist attack targeting politicians and journalists. Christopher Paul Hasson called for “focused violence” to “establish a white homeland” and dreamed of ways to “kill almost every last person on earth,” according to court records filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland.

Though court documents do not detail a specific planned date for an attack, the government said he had been amassing supplies and weapons since 2017 at the latest, developed a spreadsheet of targets that included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and searched the internet using phrases such as “best place in dc to see congress people” and “are supreme court justices protected.”

“The defendant intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country,” the government said in court documents filed this week, arguing that Hasson should stay in jail awaiting trial. Hasson was arrested on illegal weapons and drug charges on Friday, but the government says those charges are the “proverbial tip of the iceberg.”

Officials with the U.S. attorney’s office in Maryland outlined in court documents Hasson’s alleged plans to spark chaos and destruction, describing a man obsessed with neo-fascist and neo-Nazi views. Hasson’s commitment to destruction appeared to increase in recent weeks, according to details from prosecutors. He created a list of “traitors” and targets on Jan. 19 in a spreadsheet on his work computer. [The Washington Post]

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