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Religion: Islamo-Phobic Awareness Week

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OCTOBER 24, 2007 by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna,
Matt Corley, Ali Frick, and Jeremy Richmond
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RELIGION

Islamo-Phobic Awareness Week

On college campuses across America this week, conservatives are gathering together to listen to right-wing luminaries such as Ann Coulter and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) as part of David Horowitz’s Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. A project of the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the Terrorism Awareness Project, Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week organizers claim that they are only seeking “to educate students and other Americans about the ‘cadre of Islamic terrorists‘ who ‘have declared Holy War on the U.S.’” But their efforts have come under fire from critics, who say they will spread “racism and religious hatred” through the use of a loaded political phrase like Islamo-fascism. “Labeling an entire religion as fascist is offensive, inaccurate and inappropriate since it conveys a faulty image of more than a…billion Muslims around the world,” wrote the Penn State University Muslim Student Association in a statement. Horowitz’s response to the concerns of students who worry that the events will needlessly inflame tensions on campus has been to accuse them of “tak[ing] it upon themselves to conduct a hate campaign” against him and his supporters. Though Horowitz is claiming that it will be “the biggest conservative campus protest ever” and “a wake-up call for Americans on 200 university and college campuses” about “the enemy,” many of the schools purported to be participating have actually denied any association with Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, despite their schools being listed on Horowitz’s website. There are, however, still many schools that will still be spreading Horowitz’s divisive message this week.

COUNTERPRODUCTIVE LABELING: Since 9/11, the use of the phrase Islamo-fascism has increasingly become more in vogue on the right. President Bush has used variations of the term on multiple occasions. But despite Bush’s embrace of the term, many experts see it as “meaningless” and nothing more than an “epithet.” “There is no sense in which jihadists embrace fascist ideology as it was developed by Mussolini or anyone else who was associated with the term,” says Daniel Benjamin of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “This is an epithet, a way of arousing strong emotion and tarnishing one’s opponent.” Though supporters, such as former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), say that moderate Muslims should “embrace” the term, the use of labels like “Islamo-fascism” and “Islamic extremism” are counterproductive toward working with moderates to address the terrorism and extremism among a small minority of Muslims. In a speech last month, former CentCom Commander Gen. John Abizaid described how “even adding the word Islamic” makes it “very, very difficult” to “work together” with mainline regional leaders to keep extremism “from becoming mainstream.” Considering the tactics encouraged by Horowitz, stirring that sort of divisiveness may be the real underlying agenda of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.

INTENTIONALLY DIVISIVE: In the Student’s Guide to Hosting Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week provided on the Terrorism Awareness Project’s website, Horowitz’s team suggests that students distribute a petition that “forces students and faculty to declare their allegiances.” The guide then suggests that the petition be brought “to those groups who might be least likely to sign it” such as the “Muslim Students’ Association.” As the Atlantic’s Matthew Yglesias notes, the petition is “deliberately designed to be unlikely for Muslim groups to sign and then to use Muslim groups’ failure to sign the petition as evidence that they’re on the side of ‘our terrorist adversaries.’” Horowitz’s entire campaign is rife with such “with us or against us” rhetoric. In an online chat on Sunday at Islamonline.net, he claimed that if Muslims found his work “offensive,” they would be supporting  “terror, the stoning of women, clitorectomies.” Additionally, the very choice of speakers for Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week is a who’s who of controversial speakers, some of whom have a history of anti-Muslim rhetoric, such as Ann Coulter. At the 2006 Conservative Political Action Conference, Coulter declared to “boisterous ovation” that “our motto should be post-9-11, ‘raghead talks tough, raghead faces consequences.’”

THE REAL POLITICAL AGENDA:
 As the Muslim blogger Ali Eteraz notes, “this ‘awareness’ week is not about awareness at all, but using anti-Muslim animus to achieve political ends“ by attacking Horowitz’s true “enemy”: “the political left.” On the Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week homepage, Horowitz explicitly lays out his prime motivation for the project. “The purpose of this protest is as simple as it is crucial: to confront the two Big Lies of the political left,” says a statement on the website. Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week will allow conservatives to target “tenured leftist professors teaching anti-American curriculum,” a University of Rhode Island College Republican told a local radio station. During her Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week speech at the University of California at Berkeley, Nonie Darwish, the founder of Arabs for Israel, repeatedly challenged “the American left” to “support” Horowitz’s far right cause. A former Marxist-turned-conservative ideologue, Horowitz is on a perpetual and paranoid campaign against what he deems the Left. On his website, Discover the Networks, he claims that the left consists of everyone from movie critic Roger Ebert to Osama bin Laden.


UNDER THE RADAR

CLIMATE CHANGE — WHITE HOUSE ‘EVISCERATES’ CDC DIRECTOR’S TESTIMONY ON GLOBAL WARMING: Yesterday, Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that global warming “is anticipated to have a broad range of impacts on the health of Americans.” But Gerberding gave few specifics in her opening remarks, instead focusing on CDC’s current preparation plans. CDC officials are now revealing that the White House heavily edited Gerberding’s testimony, which originally was longer and had more “information on health risks.” The White House’s deletions included “details on how many people might be adversely affected because of increased warming and the scientific basis for some of the CDC’s analysis on what kinds of diseases might be spread in a warmer climate and rising sea levels.” A CDC official said that “while it is customary for testimony to be changed in a White House review, these changes were particularly ‘heavy-handed,’ with the document cut from its original 14 pages to four.” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) also released a statement, calling on the administration to “immediately release Dr. Gerberding’s full, uncut statement, because the public has a right to know all the facts about the serious threats posed by global warming.”

JUSTICE — SENATORS REQUEST CLARIFICATION FROM MUKASEY ON TORTURE: In a strongly worded letter to Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey, all 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee pressed him yesterday to clarify his position on torture, specifically on the practice of waterboarding. During his nomination hearing last week, Mukasey called a Justice Department memo authorizing the use of torture on terrorism detainees “worse than sin” and said that torture is “antithetical to what this country stands for.” Yet Mukasey refused to rule out waterboarding, a technique that simulates drowning, saying he was not sure if it constituted torture. In the letter, the senators reminded Mukasey that many people, including Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), agree that waterboarding is torture, and that after WWII, the “United States prosecuted Japanese military personnel as war criminals for waterboarding U.S. prisoners.” “Your unwillingness to state that waterboarding is illegal may place Americans at risk of being subjected to this abusive technique,” the senators wrote. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said that he would not schedule a vote on Mukasey’s nomination until the nominee has responded to all written questions asked of him. 

ETHICS — DISGRACED FORMER FEMA DIRECTOR ‘AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEWS’ ON CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES: After infamously managing the Bush administration’s disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina, former FEMA director Michael Brown released a statement yesterday proclaiming that he was “available for interviews” to discuss disaster response for the California wildfires. “Mr. Brown can speak…to some of the new processes in disaster relief efforts that will help to restore California communities. … He can offer advice to residents and businesses on proper relief and recovery efforts.” As 500,000 California residents are being forced to evacuate due to the wildfires, the storm has elicited memories of Katrina. “In a particularly nervy move,” Brown drew parallels between the two tragedies, stating, “Of these 500,000 people, an estimated 10,000 of them have taken shelter at the local NFL stadium, Qualcomm, vaguely reminiscent of circumstances of Hurricane Katrina evacuees two years ago.” During Katrina, Brown repeatedly ignored warnings that “thousands of evacuees in New Orleans’ Superdome were running out of food and water.”




THINK FAST

Right-wing pundit Glenn Beck responded to criticism over his suggestion earlier this week that the California wildfires are damaging the homes of “a handful of people who hate America.” Beck yesterday lashed out at “a few liberal bloggers” who, he said, “claim that I’m serious when I’m joking and try to cause trouble.”

“Despite new House travel restrictions, lawmakers accepted free trips worth nearly $1.9 million during the first eight months of this year — more than in all of 2006, records show.” For example, the conservative Club for Growth “spent $32,242 to bring 10 GOP lawmakers to its April convention at the Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach in Florida that included a four-hour cruise on a 170-foot yacht.”

“The Bush Administration is reportedly considering air strikes, including cruise missiles, against the Kurdish rebel group PKK in northern Iraq. The move would be an attempt to stave off a Turkish invasion of that country to fight the rebels.”

The Iraqi government announced today that it has decided to “formally revoke the immunity from prosecution granted to private security companies operating in the war-ravaged country.” A government spokesman said in a statement that the Iraqi cabinet “decided to scrap the article pertaining to security companies operating in Iraq that was issued by the CPA in 2004.”

$2.4 trillion: The potential cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through the next decade, “or nearly $8,000 per man, woman and child in the country, according to a Congressional Budget Office estimate.” “The number is so big, it boggles the mind,” said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL).

“President Bush said yesterday that a missile defense system is urgently needed in Europe to guard against a possible attack on U.S. allies by Iran.” Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested that the United States “could delay activating such a system until there is ‘definitive proof‘ of such a threat.”

“Despite all his recent bravado about being an apostle of small government and budget-slashing,” Bush is the biggest spending president since 1964. According to an analysis by McClatchy, annual growth of discretionary spending (adjusted for inflation) has increased 5.3 percent under Bush’s watch, a number that exceeds the spending of his recent predecessors.

“The government’s terrorist watch list has swelled to more than 755,000 names,” growing by approximately “200,000 names a year since 2004.” The new report by the Government Accountability Office also “raised worries about the list’s effectiveness.”

And finally: A job listing recently appeared on the D.C. government’s public job database allegedly looking for a personal chef for MSNBC pundit Tucker Carlson. The posting named Carlson, who listed his own occupation as “Able Seaman.” The pay was just “$7.50 an hour, with no benefits.” Evidently, according to Carlson, the posting was a hoax.

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GOOD NEWS

The House passed the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act, “which directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to develop and implement a comprehensive program to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans.”

STATE WATCH

NEW YORK: Child care workers vote to unionize.

GEORGIA: “The state’s employee retirement system is facing a potential $16 billion shortfall.”

CIVIL RIGHTS: Real ID standards from the Department of Homeland Security can be expected in two to three months.

BLOG WATCH

THINK PROGRESS: American Enterprise Institute’s Joshua Muravchik: “I don’t mind if we bomb Iran next month or the month after.”

THE CRYPT:  Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) calls for the arrests of college immigration activists.

TPM MUCKRAKER: Former Republican Attorney General lambastes the Bush administration’s politicization of the Justice Department.

GRISTMILL: Senate conservatives maneuver to stall climate and energy bills.

DAILY GRILL

“During the week of October 22-26, 2007, the nation will be rocked by the biggest conservative campus protest ever — Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, a wake-up call for Americans on 200 university and college campuses.”
— Right-wing commentator David Horowitz

VERSUS

“It’s important to note though, after we contacted those institutions, most of those institutions indicated that no such events is taking place on those campus.”
— Executive Director of the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee Kareem Shora, 10/23/07

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