Fox News, Andrew Breitbart, and other conservative media have attacked Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf because one of his "former associates" believes 9-11 was an "inside job." However, Rauf has repeatedly said the 9-11 attacks were perpetrated by extremist Muslims; moreover, Fox News and Breitbart have their own -- much more significant -- "truther" ties.
Trumpeting an article headlined, "Mosque Investor was Terror Contributor," Fox Nation continued its attack on Islam and the Park51 project by smearing a financial backer of the proposed Islamic cultural center as a "terror contributor." The website highlighted the Fox 5 article using the headline, "Ground Zero Mosque Investor was Terror Contributor":
The article, by Fox 5 New York reporter Charles Leaf, reported that, in 1999, one of Park51's financial backers, businessman Hisham Elzanaty, "sent money to an organization that would later be deemed by the U.S. government to be a terrorist group," identifying the organization as the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF).
While Leaf noted that "Mr. Elzanaty's attorney tells Fox 5 News exclusively his client believed he was making contributions to an orphanage," he went on to report that, according to a representative of the anti-Muslim group Investigative Project on Terrorism, "[i]f you gave money (to HLF) in 1999 you probably had some inkling that HLF was giving money to Hamas and therefore to terrorist operations."
But as Leaf himself reported, Elzanaty donated money to HLF two years before the government alleged the group had ties to Hamas. During a trial of former HLF officials in 2007, the U.S. attorney reportedly told jurors that "[f]or 13 years, the defendants deceived the American public into believing" HLF was "a good charity." And in a 2008 indictment against the group, the Department of Justice stated:
In furtherance of HAMAS' goal of garnering support of the Palestinian people, the HLF sponsored orphans and needy families in the West Bank and Gaza. While the program was mantled with a benevolent appearance, the HLF specifically sought orphans and families whose relatives had died or were jailed as a result of furthering HAMAS' violent campaign, including suicide bombings.
As we noted earlier, Fox & Friends also strained to tie the Park51 project to Hamas.
Yesterday, Glenn Beck's new website The Blaze posted two videos from Beck's 8/28 rally of "black conservatives taking a real stand in the face of adversity" -- the adversity being heated discussions with purported "liberals." The URL describes the post as "black-conservatives-stand-for-truth," further suggesting that The Blaze approves of the people in the videos.
But one of the clips features a "black conservative" accusing another black man in the crowd of being an "Uncle Tom" and "a sambo," presumably for supporting Democrats, and tells another person in the crowd that they're "going to hell." A Fairfax County, Virginia, blogger appears to be the source of the video, which has also been posted on Andrew Breitbart's website.
Beck's radio show aired a portion of the video yesterday, but omitted the man's inflammatory statements. The clip only included the rantings of the "liberal," who says, "Christianity is a white man's religion." Beck suggested that they would air the video later on his Fox News show. But they didn't.
Aside from the incendiary statements made in the video posted approvingly by The Blaze, this man appears to be an all-around crazy person. His name is Michael/Maurice Symonette, but has also reportedly gone by "Michael the Black Man," "Maurice Woodside," and "Mikael Israel." On his YouTube page, he is identified as "Michaelwarns." He has several websites, including MichaelWarns.com and MichaelDefeatsSatan.com, Gods2.com, and MichaelsVictory.com, all of which promote his book, "written primarily to show the BLACK MAN, and the WORLD the true source of their problem, 33% of the BLACK WOMEN of AMERICA (BABYLON)." The cover of the book declares that Oprah Winfrey is "the devil" and "Obama is the beast 666, given power by the dragon (serpent), Oprah."
Fox Nation, which has not been shy about obscuring President Obama's faith, tonight displayed the following headline on its website: "Obama is not Muslim, but..."
The headline linked to a column by Ann Coulter titled, "Obama is not a Muslim." This is the same Coulter who repeatedly promoted the lie -- three years after it had been debunked by numerous news organizations (Fox included) -- that Obama attended a madrassa as a child in Indonesia, and who has relentlessly smeared Islam and Muslims.
In her column, Coulter argues that the "nonsense" about Obama being a Muslim "has got to stop" because Obama "is obviously an atheist." She goes on to write that while Obama has professed to be a Christian, the "only evidence" is that he attended Rev. Jeremiah Wright's church for 20 years -- which "is even stronger evidence of nonbelief than Bill Clinton returning from Sunday services to receive oral sex from Monica Lewinsky." She concludes by writing that "[a]ll liberals are atheists," adding, "There's only one true Christian liberal in the country and that's Mike Huckabee."
From Coulter's September 1 column:
The nonsense about President Obama being a Muslim has got to stop. I rise to defend him from this absurd accusation by pointing out that he is obviously an atheist.
Leave aside Obama's fanatical opposition to allowing Illinois hospitals to save the lives of babies with God-given souls inadvertently born alive during abortions. Also leave aside the fact that neither of his parents were Christians. And leave aside his current crop of "spiritual advisers," which is a collection of Mother Earth worshippers, polytheists and other nonbelievers.
Now rest from all that "leaving aside."
The only evidence for Obama's Christianity is that he faithfully attended the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ for 20 years.
Yes, the guy bellowing "God damn America!" is the one vouching for Obama's Christianity. That's like saying you got sober with the help of your A.A. sponsor Lindsay Lohan.
It is a fact that any non-retarded person (thank you, Rahm Emanuel!) sitting in the Rev. Wright's church for 20 minutes, much less 20 years, does not believe in God. Even stepping inside Wright's church for a moment to get out of the rain is borderline racist.
Going to Trinity United Church of Christ is even stronger evidence of nonbelief than Bill Clinton returning from Sunday services to receive oral sex from Monica Lewinsky. This isn't mere sin -- everybody sins (though some with more frequency and less remorse than others).
Attending Wright's church is the conscious, calculated decision to immerse yourself in hate-filled demagoguery and call it "Christianity."
Earlier tonight, Bill O'Reilly pledged to defend his Fox News colleague, Glenn Beck, against "the people generating the attacks" against him -- which, they both agreed, "are gonna get worse" -- saying, "I have your back." Well, later on in the show, O'Reilly proved true to his word and did defend him -- by obscuring Beck's own statements that his rally would "reclaim the civil rights movement," which he said has been "corrupted" by progressives.
During an exchange with Al Sharpton, O'Reilly repeatedly deflected Sharpton's comments about how Beck promoted his rally as an effort to take back the civil rights movement from those he claims have "perverted" it. O'Reilly wanted to discuss solely what happened at the rally, rather than how Beck had previously tied it to the civil rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy. When pressed by Sharpton, O'Reilly countered that Beck said "[h]e wants" the civil rights movement "for everybody" and that "[h]e says it every day on his radio show that Dr. Martin Luther King is not the sole property of African-Americans. That's the whole theme."
While Beck has repeatedly asserted that "Whites don't own Abraham Lincoln" and "Blacks don't own Martin Luther King," it is not the "whole theme," as O'Reilly suggested. Beck hasn't simply said he wants to share or join the civil rights movement -- he has said he wants to "reclaim" it, and that him and his followers are "the inheritors and the protectors of the civil rights movement," while people like Sharpton "are perverting it."
Sharpton went on to say to O'Reilly:
Laura Ingraham's December 2009 comments in which she speaks approvingly of the Park51 project are becoming quite the thorn in her side. During tonight's edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Ingraham tried -- again -- to explain her evolving position on the proposed Islamic community center to be built in Lower Manhattan.
Ingraham has previously said that her reversal was due to the "legitimate questions" that had arisen, which, as we pointed out, were nothing but the same smears and falsehoods that conservative pundits have been pushing for weeks. Tonight, Ingraham trotted out those same falsehoods and suggested that back in 2009, she had merely "supported assimilation," not the actual project itself.
However, Ingraham's guest, Manhattan Borough president Scott Stringer, pointed out what Ingraham had said last year. Stringer stated that Ingraham "supported this," saying, "You told Daisy Khan -- you told them, on this show, in December 2009, you said, 'You're doing the right thing. You're doing great work.' ... You actually started this, Laura." Stringer went on to say:
STRINGER: You supported this -- and then you know what you did? You left the studio. ... You then left the studio and said, what did I -- what did I do? I didn't stick to the talking points. I have to now go back and reverse myself 'cause I need ratings. You agreed -- you agreed with them.
Two recently released polls show that an increasing number of Americans believe the falsehood that President Obama is a Muslim. According to the Pew Research Center, 60 percent of people who believe this false claim cite the media as the source of that information -- and, indeed, the right-wing media have incessantly promoted this lie.
As Talking Points Memo reported, former Bush administration Solicitor General Ted Olson today expressed support for building an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan, saying, "[I]t may not make me hap-- popular with some people, but I think probably the president was right about this."
Olson, as TPM noted, lost his wife, the late conservative author and activist Barbara Olson, on the day of the attacks. She was on board the hijacked plane flown into the Pentagon. Appearing on today's edition of MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports, Olson said:
OLSON: Well, it may not make me popular with some people, but I think probably the president was right about this. I do believe that people of all religions have a right to build edifices, or structures, or places of religious worship or study, where the community allows them to do it under zoning laws and that sort of thing, and that we don't want to turn an act of hate against us by extremists into an act of intolerance for people of religious faith. And I don't think it should be a political issue. It shouldn't be a Republican or Democratic issue, either. I believe Governor Christie from New Jersey said it well -- that this should not be in that political, partisan marketplace.
While hosting an iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan on August 14, President Obama stated: "As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable."
As we documented, Obama was roundly attacked by conservatives for his comments, with right-wing commentator Pamela Geller asserting that Obama "has, in effect, sided with the Islamic jihadists." Conservatives also responded to Obama's comments by falsely claiming that opponents of the proposed community center had not talked about restricting Muslims' religious freedom, when in fact they had.
Watch Olson's comments:
Conservative media have continued to accuse the imam leading the initiative to build an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan of being a "secret radical," pointing to his remark that "the United States' policies were an accessory" to the 9-11 attacks. In fact, Rauf has condemned terrorism and has been widely described as "moderate," and his comments on 9-11 are not outside the mainstream.