Fox News: The Home of Two Newly-Designated Anti-Muslim Hate Groups

››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

Fox News has repeatedly hosted representatives from ACT! for America and the Center for Security Policy, organizations designated as anti-Muslim hate groups in 2015 for the first time by the Southern Poverty Law Center in its annual census of hate groups and other extremist organizations.

SPLC Adds ACT! For America And Center For Security Policy To List Of Anti-Muslim Hate Groups

SPLC Included The Anti-Muslim Organizations On Its List Of "Hate Groups" Active In 2015. On February 17, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) published its list of active hate groups in the United States in 2015 and announced that the "Center for Security Policy is one of two anti-Muslim groups listed as hate groups for the first time in this year's report. The other is ACT! for America." [Southern Poverty Law Center, 2/17/16]

These Hate Groups And Their Leaders Have A Long History Of Pushing Anti-Muslim Fear And Misinformation

NY Times Labeled ACT! For America's Gabriel A "Radical Islamophobe" In 2008. The New York Times' former public editor, Clark Hoyt, wrote that "radical Islamophobe" is a "fair description" for ACT! for America founder and president Brigitte Gabriel, who defines "all practicing Muslims" as "radical Muslims." Hoyt wrote the following article in response to reader comments about a New York Times Magazine interview of Gabriel for a book she wrote:

Brigitte Gabriel is a provocative author and lecturer, a Lebanese-Christian who came to the United States after surviving the civil war that tore apart the land of her birth. She has made it her mission - one might say her crusade - to warn that radical Muslims, a term she defines as all practicing Muslims, are bent on taking over the West.

Gabriel has a new book coming out in a couple of weeks, "They Must Be Stopped." Knowing her history, you don't need to guess who "they" are. Gabriel believes that Muslims cannot serve loyally in the U.S. military, that interfaith dialogue is "nonsense," and that the difference between the Arab world and Israel is "barbarism versus civilization." The Muslim world will not be satisfied until all infidels are converted or eliminated, she has said.

Stephen Lee, the publicist at St. Martins Press for Gabriel's new book, calls her views "extreme," and I wouldn't argue with that.

[...]

As for the terms "crusader" and "radical Islamophobe," both strike me as fair descriptions in the context of a magazine feature that is supposed to be edgier than the news columns of the newspaper. Though much of the interview seemed comparatively mild, Gabriel showed a few of the rhetorical flashes that have made her such a controversial figure. Moderate Muslims, she said, "at this point are truly irrelevant." Public foot baths for Muslim students at American universities are "the way they are taking over the West. They are doing it culturally, inch by inch. They don't need to fire one bullet." [The New York Times8/21/08]

Middle East Expert: Gabriel Is A "Professional Muslim Basher." In a March 2011 email to Media Matters, Middle East expert and founding director of Georgetown University's Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding blasted Brigitte Gabriel, writing that "she is a fear monger pure, an Islamophobic culture warrior, and plays fast and loose to get the limelight and a career":

Brigitte Gabriel is basically an entrepreneur, a professional Muslim basher. She, like [Pamela] Geller, [Robert] Spencer and company have no expert credentials in Islam or Muslim history and cultures, the very topics that they speak about. She is a fear monger pure, an Islamophobic culture warrior, and plays fast and loose to get the limelight and a career. What she and others excel at are simplistic generalizations and assertions, often choosing selective texts, individuals or events as if they were representative of the entire community.

Instead of focusing on extremism in America or Muslim extremists as a dangerous but very small percentage, she chooses to target the Muslim American community, the vast majority of whom, as Gallup and PEW data have demonstrated, are as American as other Americans, educationally, economically and politically integrated. She ignores statements by the heads of the FBI, Homeland Security, Justice Dept. and the deputy national security advisor that also see American Muslims as partners in the fight against extremists. [Media Matters, 3/14/11]

SPLC: Gabriel "Reportedly Told U.S. Military And National Security Personnel" That "A Practicing Muslim... Cannot Be A Loyal Citizen To The United States." According to the Southern Poverty Law Center's profile on ACT! for America, Gabriel said during a lecture to U.S. military and national security personnel during a college course that practicing Muslims "cannot be ... loyal citizen[s]" of the United States:

In 2007, Gabriel gave a lecture to the Defense Department's Joint Forces Staff College as part a course on Islam. She reportedly told U.S. military and national security personnel that Muslims should be prohibited from serving in public office on the basis of their faith. "If a Muslim who has -- who is -- a practicing Muslim who believes the word of the Koran to be the word of Allah ... who goes to mosque and prays every Friday, who prays five times a day -- this practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States." [Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 2/17/16]

BBC News: CSP's Gaffney Has "Called For Muslims To Be Investigated By A 'New And Improved' House Un-American Activities Committee." In a December 2015 article, BBC News reported that the Center for Security Policy is "not very highly respected" and that its founder, Gaffney, has been called "one of America's most notorious Islamophobes" by the SPLC." BBC News noted that Gaffney has called for a "'new and improved' House Un-American Activities Committee" to investigate Muslims and "has repeatedly accused parts of America's Muslim population of what he calls 'civilisational jihad'":

Mr Gaffney Jr served in the Reagan administration during the 1980s but left in 1988 to form the CSP, after his nomination as assistant secretary of defence was rejected by the Senate.

"Once a respectable Washington insider," according to the Southern Poverty Law Centre, which monitors US hate groups and extremists, Mr Gaffney Jr became "one of America's most notorious Islamophobes", the SPLC said.

Mr Gaffney Jr has repeatedly accused parts of America's Muslim population of what he calls "civilisational jihad". He has also called for Muslims to be investigated by a "new and improved" House Un-American Activities Committee - a highly controversial Cold War-era body which questioned and blacklisted US citizens accused of being communists. [BBC News, 12/8/15]

Center For American Progress: Center For Security Policy Is "A Central Hub Of The Anti-Muslim Network And An Active Promoter Of ... Anti-Muslim Rhetoric." The Center for American Progress (CAP) wrote in a 2011 report that Gaffney is a "misinformation expert" who "generate[s] the false facts and materials used by political leaders, grassroots groups, and the media" to spread anti-Muslim sentiment. CAP called the Center for Security Policy part of the "Islamophobia infrastructure" and "a central hub of the anti-Muslim network and an active promoter of anti-Sharia messaging and anti-Muslim rhetoric." The report further noted that "the baseless accusations peddled by Gaffney and his think tank echo the tactics of Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s":

Gaffney and CSP use this money to promote an increasingly paranoid misrepresentation of the threats posed by Islam in America. The baseless accusations peddled by Gaffney and his think tank echo the tactics of Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s, who claimed that communists had thoroughly infiltrated the federal government of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. But Gaffney's tactics take a page from the radical religious right as well, conflating all of the followers of a non-Christian religion as enemies of the state and society and then providing talking points that marry the two nonexistent threats. Anders Breivik, the confessed Norway terrorist, cited Gaffney and CSP seven times in his manifesto.

Several examples of how Gaffney and the Center for Security Policy develop and deploy their incorrect academic research using the foundation's money to spread an increasingly shrill message of hate and fear prove these points.

[...]

[H]e is one of the lead engineers of the "anti-Sharia" movement sweeping the nation. His think tank released the 2010 report "Shariah: The Threat to America," which reframed Sharia, or Islamic religious law followed by any practicing Muslim, as a "totalitarian ideology" and "legal-political-military doctrine."

The American Civil Liberties Union summed up this nonexistent threat best in its concise, six-page report, "Nothing to Fear: Debunking the Mythical 'Sharia Threat' to Our Judicial System," in which it states that these claims of a Sharia infiltration are "wrong" and "based both on misinformation and a misunderstanding of how our judicial system works." The report adds, "There is no evidence that Islamic law is encroaching on our courts. On the contrary, the court cases cited by anti-Muslim groups as purportedly illustrative of this problem actually show the opposite: Courts treat lawsuits that are brought by Muslims or that address the Islamic faith in the same way that they deal with similar claims brought by people of other faiths or that involve no religion at all." The ACLU report points to the insidious purpose behind the crusade to ban Sharia: "Prohibiting [U.S.] courts from considering Islamic law serves only one purpose: to bar Muslims from having the same rights and access to the courts as any other religious individuals."

Gaffney's Sharia report also erroneously suggests that every practicing Muslim engages in "taqiyya," which CSP incorrectly defines as religiously mandated lying. This assertion suggests all practicing Muslims as unreliable and potential threats to America. In fact, taqiyya is an Arabic word that means concealing one's faith out of fear of death and is practiced by only a minority of Muslims. This practice equips Muslims past and present with a faithful "precautionary denial of religious belief in the face of potential persecution." [Center for American Progress, Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America, 8/11/15]

Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump Cited CSP Poll In His Call For "Total And Complete Shutdown Of Muslims Entering The United States." In December 2015, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump's campaign issued a press release demanding an end to Muslims entering America, citing a poll from Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy:

Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on. According to Pew Research, among others, there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population. Most recently, a poll from the Center for Security Policy released data showing "25% of those polled agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified as a part of the global jihad" and 51% of those polled, "agreed that Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to Shariah." [The Daily Caller, 12/7/15]

SPLC: "CSP's Main Focus Has Been On Demonizing Islam And Muslims Under The Guise Of National Security." From SPLC's profile of the Center for Security Policy:

For the past decade, CSP's main focus has been on demonizing Islam and Muslims under the guise of national security. Statements from Frank Gaffney and other CSP staffers, along with claims made in CSP publications, have become increasingly conspiratorial in nature, making such claims as Muslims are attempting to overthrow the US government from within, and that Shariah law is trumping the constitution in American courts.

In the late 2000's the anti-Muslim movement in America became more organized, and CSP quickly established itself as one of the movement's premier think tanks. Many of the other organizations making up this movement, such as the grassroots group ACT! for America, were young, but CSP enjoyed extensive contacts in Washington after almost 20 years working in the capital. Gaffney and CSP thus became a key player in the anti-Muslim movement almost overnight. [Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 2/17/16]

Fox News Has Frequently Hosted Representatives From These Anti-Muslim Hate Groups In The Past Six Months

ACT! For America's Brigitte Gabriel Appeared Seven Times On Hannity. According to a Media Matters search of Nexis transcripts and internal databases, Brigitte Gabriel, founder of ACT! for America, appeared seven times on Fox's Hannity in the past six months. Many of these appearances occurred in December after Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump called for a ban on Muslims, which she supported. [Right Wing Watch, 12/10/15]

Center For Security Policy's Jim Hanson Was A Repeat Guest On The O'Reilly Factor. According to a Media Matters search of Nexis transcripts and internal databases, Jim Hanson, executive vice president of the Center for Security Policy, appeared at least eight times on Fox News in the past six months. Five of these appearances were on The O'Reilly Factor in December to comment on Trump's Muslim ban and the San Bernardino attack, one appearance was on the February 17 edition of the Factor, during which he praised Ted Cruz, and two more appearances were on different editions of Fox's morning show Fox & Friends. [Center for Security Policy, accessed 2/17/16]

Hate Group Representatives Made One Appearance On CNN, No Appearances On MSNBC. According to a Media Matters search of Nexis transcripts, Center for Security Policy's Gaffney made one appearance on CNN in December after Trump cited his organization's poll in his call to ban Muslims from America. Gabriel, Gaffney, and Hanson did not appear on MSNBC in the past six months, according to the transcripts available on Nexis.

Methodology: Media Matters searched Nexis transcripts and internal monitoring records for appearances by ACT! for America founder Brigitte Gabriel, Center for Security Policy founder Frank Gaffney, and Center for Security Policy executive vice president Jim Hanson on Fox News for the six month period between August 17, 2015, and February 17, 2016, and Nexis transcripts only for CNN and MSNBC over the same time period. 

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Religion, Justice & Civil Liberties
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Frank Gaffney, Brigitte Gabriel
Show/Publication
Southern Poverty Law Center
Stories/Interests
Hate Speech
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