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Right-Wing Money-Fed Campaign Escalates Latent 9-11 Paranoia into Anti-Muslim Hysteria

Inside the bizarre cabal of secretive donors, demagogic bloggers, European Neo-Fascists, violent Israeli settlers, and Republican politicians behind the anti-Muslim crusade.
 
 
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Introduction by Tom Engelhardt

Moments of imperial and economic decline -- according to a recent poll, 65% of Americans now  believe this country to be “in a state of decline” -- can also be periods of cultishness, even of madness incarnate.  Such a mood now seems to be spreading through the United States.  It’s not so surprising, really.  Since the attacks of September 11, 2001,  fear has been  injected into this “homeland” like a drug and a  penumbra of official secrecy has settled over the land in a way that makes the secrecy of the Cold War years (when this country faced a superpower, not a ragtag set of  jihadis, guerrillas, and terrorists) seem like an era of sunshine. 

In an atmosphere of swirling fears and hysteria amid declining living conditions, “explanations” that at other times might have remained confined to tiny crews of conspiracy-mongers can suddenly gain a patina of plausibility and so traction.  No wonder then that, as hard times hit, as the financial system seemed on the verge of collapse, as unemployment soared and a massive wave of home foreclosures swept into view, increasing numbers of Americans became prey to any wacky explanation for our troubles, none more so than the idea that Islam was somehow responsible, that  mosques and Islamic centers meant for a sliver of a minority here were capable of imposing anything, no less a way of life on this country, or that Sharia law (of all things) might somehow worm its way into  state legal systems, or that YouTube was a  hotbed of terrorism worthy of suppression, or... well, you name it. 

Max Blumenthal, author of the bestselling book  Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party, has done the necessary legwork to take us deep into one of those crews of conspiracy-mongers who, at another time, just about no one would have paid much attention to, but in twenty-first-century America have gained a remarkable audience.  They are a chilling barometer of the changing weather in America.  -- Tom Engelhardt

The Great Islamophobic Crusade

-- Max Blumenthal

Nine years after 9/11, hysteria about Muslims in American life has gripped the country. With it has gone an  outburst of arson attacks on mosques, campaigns to stop their construction, and the branding of the Muslim-American community, overwhelmingly moderate, as a hotbed of potential terrorist recruits. The frenzy has raged from rural Tennessee to New York City, while in Oklahoma, voters even  overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure banning the implementation of Sharia law in American courts (not that such a prospect existed). This campaign of Islamophobia wounded President Obama politically, as one out of five Americans have  bought into a sustained chorus of false rumors about his secret Muslim faith. And it may have tainted views of Muslims in general; an August 2010 Pew Research Center poll  revealed that, among Americans, the favorability rating of Muslims had dropped by 11 points since 2005.

Erupting so many years after the September 11th trauma, this spasm of anti-Muslim bigotry might seem oddly timed and unexpectedly spontaneous. But think again: it’s the fruit of an organized, long-term campaign by a tight confederation of right-wing activists and operatives who first focused on Islamophobia soon after the September 11th attacks, but only attained critical mass during the Obama era.  It was then that embittered conservative forces, voted out of power in 2008, sought with remarkable success to leverage cultural resentment into political and partisan gain.

This network is obsessively fixated on the supposed spread of Muslim influence in America. Its apparatus spans continents, extending from Tea Party activists here to the European far right. It brings together in common cause right-wing ultra-Zionists, Christian evangelicals, and racist British soccer hooligans. It reflects an aggressively pro-Israel sensibility, with its key figures venerating the Jewish state as a Middle Eastern Fort Apache on the front lines of the Global War on Terror and urging the U.S. and various European powers to emulate its heavy-handed methods.