Interfaith Group Blasts Horowitz' Islamophobia Promotion Week

The authoritarian mindset promoted by Horowitz and his gang of touring bigots is the real fascistic threat facing America today.
Editor's note: the following is a statement released by Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace.

Under the leadership of David Horowitz, Ann Coulter, Rick Santorum, and their neoconservative colleagues "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week" is taking place October 22-26 on many campuses across America, including USC and UCLA. We believe that this is a calculated strategy to inflame fear of Muslims and ultimately to soften up the American public to support the next assault in the "War on Terror:" war against Iran. The audience is not so much the young people and their professors on campus but the unsuspecting public – you and us.

Several days after the attacks of September 11, 2001 Ann Coulter asserted: "We should invade their [Muslim's] countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." Last week she told Donny Deutsch: "… we should throw Judaism away and we should all be Christians." Now she is scheduled to take her message to academic institutions, to challenge their practices of freedom of inquiry and speech. The targets are Muslims, participants in Women's Studies Centers and academics who do not espouse the neoconservative litany. But the ultimate victim of these hate-fests will be America's reputation for fair play, civility, tolerance and liberty.

Like their distant cousins, "The Marching Seasons" in Northern Ireland and the Oktoberfest of Nazi Germany, the week-long "educational programs" called "Islamo-Fascism Week" are centrally planned in off-campus propaganda "institutes." Talk-radio and Fox-television "personalities" will spend a week on a spree with Horowitz and Coulter in the lead -- vilifying Muslims, women's aspirations, and the life of the mind. Most Americans have already been urged to be suspicious of Muslims, educated women, and "pointy-headed" intellectuals. Horowitz and Coulter will fan the hate, masquerading as people seeking "open discussion" while delivering "dire warnings."

These are the sentiments of haters. Coulter's remarks, barely noticed when they were directed toward Muslims, now target Jews. In Coulter's imaginings a perfect America has only Christians – everyone else is here on sufferance until they are "perfected." According to Coulter's God, they must cease to be who they are since Coulter's religious truth is singularly correct. We recall the brave words of Pastor Martin Neimoller in Nazi Germany:

They came for the Communists, and I didn't object - For I wasn't a Communist;
They came for the Socialists, and I didn't object - For I wasn't a Socialist;
They came for the labor leaders, and I didn't object - For I wasn't a labor leader;
They came for the Jews, and I didn't object - For I wasn't a Jew;
Then they came for me - And there was no one left to object.

One of America's greatest achievements used to be our highly trained college graduates -- visitors from other countries, immigrants and native-born -- who were inspired by the life and learning that they experienced on campus to work for liberty and justice. Now we are teaching them a different set of values. Mr. Horowitz is creating scapegoats -- in effect creating "new enemies" -- who must be silenced in the run-up to the war against Iran.

Ironically, the real threat of fascism comes from the authoritarian mind-set – in government and in people -- that substitutes fear and hate for the complex learning about each other that moves us beyond stereotypes. Recent scholars have produced helpful guidelines for identifying fascism but no better definition exists than the behavior, the thinking and verbal expressions of the architects of these hate-fests with their promotion of open hostility to academia and its hallmarks, critical thinking and civilized debate. It is now common for professors and other academics to be bullied and even censored. One of the hallmarks of "real" fascism is its propensity for cultural intimidation and bullying.

The popular culture of the Enlightenment -- the movement that shaped America's approach to the separation of Church and State, religious equality and tolerance -- gave us Gotthold Lessing's 1779 play entitled, Nathan the Wise. At the heart of the play is a parable of "three rings" given by a loving parent to his off-spring. Each ring is an authentication of the three religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Each of the three religions, who are off-spring of the Sovereign, receive an identical looking ring thus placing them on an equal footing. Each religion received the ring of religion from the "Father" God, and none would ever know who possesses the 'true ring/faith.' From the perspective of the bestower and the belief of the holder, no one could settle the issue of the true faith but each could appreciate and respect the other. Lessing's message was a hope for a then, new emerging 'civil society,' in which no religion would dominate but each religion would have equal standing. Mutual acceptance of each religion's equal status before God and society, formed the earliest steps toward interfaith appreciation. The play's "lesson" affirmed each religious community's inherent dignity.

Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace believes that the appropriate response to diversity in our world is to search and work together for understanding and toleration. Since 9/11 our various communities have met each Friday morning to talk, to learn, and to seek common ground. We continue to search for an end to war-making. We embrace free speech. We cherish our colleagues of other faith traditions who seek to 'welcome the stranger' 'love their neighbor' do justice and walk humbly with their vision of sacred wisdom.

Rev. George Regas, Pastor Emeritus of All-Saints Pasadena and Founder of ICUJP

Imam Shakeel Syed, Executive Director of the Muslim Shura Council

Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, co-director of
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