Spencer is paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by Horowitz‘s Freedom Foundation. Birds of a feather flock together.
Spencer and Geller have often toured Australia with the anti-Muslim organization, The Q-Society, who have hosted and sponsored the two Islamophobes.
Their only address is a PO Box in suburban Melbourne. They won’t say exactly where their money comes from and say they never will.
And they are very opposed to Islam in Australia.
The secretive organisation known as the Q Society has this week been linked to a noisy campaign to stop the construction of a mosque in Bendigo, Victoria.
Over the past few weeks, some of the town’s businesses and residents have awoken to find black balloons tied up outside their premises as a way of protesting the proposed place of worship.
The $3 million development was approved last week at a raucous council meeting. There were reports indicating the Q Society was a “key force” behind the Bendigo campaign (the organisation says it only held a public meeting and was “not a protest organisation”).
‘Mosque busters’: Black balloons on the corner of Rowena Street and Rohs Road in Bendigo East. Picture: Ian CurrieSource: News Corp Australia
‘Education group’: Debbie Robinson, left, and Andrew Horwood. Picture: News Corp Austarlia Source: News Corp Australia
So who exactly are they and what are they doing?
The Q Society — named because the group was founded at a 2010 meeting in the upper class Melbourne suburb of Kew — claims to have members across the country.
Its mission is about “educating” people about Islam, spokesman Andrew Horwood said, rather than leading the protests.
They describe themselves as “Islam-critical”, are avowed opponents of sharia law and have published a book Getting Through: How To Talk To Non Muslims About The Disturbing Nature of Islam and produced YouTube videos including “How to stop a mosque”.
It has few public faces except for its president, Debbie Robinson, and Mr Horwood. “We’re purely educational,” he told news.com.au.
An image of the proposed mosque. Source: Supplied
Keysar Trad, from the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, said the group spreads “disturbing, baseless Islamophobia”.
“I think most Australians would normally treat them as a joke but because there’s not enough information out there, not enough good information … about Islam, some people unfortunately subscribe to their message.”
The group is affiliated with an global organisation known as Stop The Islamisation of Nations (SION) — which, as the name suggests, is vehemently anti-Islamic.
The society has been in the headlines several times over the past few years due to its involvement in bringing right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders to speak in Australia.
Dutch far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders. Picture: AFP Source: AFP
Mr Wilders has faced accusations of racial vilification after branding Islam as a violent religion and likening the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
More than 20 venues he was to speak at last year withdrew their support after a firestorm over his visit.
According to Mr Horwood, that’s a sign that Australia has been stifled by political correctness.
“You have to question in 2013 in Australia are people already scared to talk about Islam?” he said. “Are they fearful about what would happen if they discuss Islam?
“You have the riots in Sydney only 18 months ago. Actions like that make people fear (discussing) it.”
Keysar Trad from the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia. Picture: News Corp Australia Source: News Limited
Mr Horwood said members’ security was one reason why the organisation employed secretive measures, such as refusing to name its supporters and nondisclosure agreements for members who attend meetings.
“It’s important in our industry that we understand who is actually there,” Mr Horwood said.
“I’m sure you’re aware of what’s happening overseas with people under 24-hour armed guard. “We like to have an understanding of who’s attending our meetings.”
But Mr Trad said the Q Society was just paranoid.
“The secrecy behind their message is an indication of paranoia. People should realise this is not a message they should take very seriously. It’s a message they should throw in the bin.”
For more on Usama Dakdok, see our previous articles that detail just how violent and hateful this man, a pal of Robert Spencer and Geller is:
Action Alert: Ask school to rescind approval of anti-Islam event due to safety concerns
(MINNEAPOLIS, MN, 6/23/14) — The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) today called on the Bagley Independent School District #162 to rescind approval of tonight’s speech by Islamophobe Usama Dakdok following harassment of a Muslim woman by a “mob” at his earlier speaking event at the same school on Sunday.
CAIR-MN also called on local and state law enforcement authorities to consider bias charges against the harassers based on that state’s “assaults motivated by bias” statute.
Dakdok, who claims that American Muslims “will kill your children” and that “we are in war with Islam,” was invited to speak at Bagley High School by local Islamophobe Tammy Godwin. On June 22, during the second part of his three-day hate series, audience members said Dakdok incited the audience and endangered a Muslim woman attendee’s safety and security.
The audience members said the Muslim woman, who wears a religious headscarf, was part of a peaceful protest outside the hate event. She, along with others, entered the auditorium after the silent protest finished to listen to the speech. Their “Love Thy Neighbor” signs were lowered and not facing anyone inside. As the Muslim woman was quietly walking down the aisle looking for a seat, Dakdok stopped his presentation and singled her out. He asked her to leave, allegedly yelling, “Sister, I will give you one last chance to leave or I will throw you out myself!”
One attendee described an angry mob of Dakdok supporters who then began harassing the Muslim woman: “People were yelling at the Muslim woman, ‘Get out’ and ‘You weren’t invited.’ Men were getting to their feet and moving towards her to lay hands on her.”
The audience member announced he was calling the police out of concern for the Muslim woman’s safety. Godwin allegedly tried to interfere with the police call by attempting to intimidate the Good Samaritan by telling him, “Don’t you dare [call the police]. This will be on your soul.”
Three officers responded to the call, including the Bagley police chief, a Bagley police officer and a Sheriff’s Deputy. The Muslim woman was allowed to stay and an officer stayed at the event until it ended. One member of the angry mob, seemingly upset with Muslim presence, later approached the officer and asked: “Can I borrow your gun?”
“We support freedom of speech, and that freedom includes the right to peacefully listen to even hate speech without fear of being set upon by an angry and threatening mob,” CAIR-MN Executive Director Lori Saroya. “Bagley Independent School District should cancel tonight’s event due to the clear safety concerns for those Minnesota Muslims and other people of conscience who may choose to exercise their First Amendment rights by attending this hate fest.”
Saroya added that law enforcement authorities should consider charges against the harassers of the Muslim attendee under Minn. Stat. § 609.2231 (2009), which provides penalties for “anyone who assaults another because of the victim’s or another’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability as defined in section 363A.03, age, or national origin.”
CAIR-MN has placed over 7,000 educational flyer inserts on Islam and Muslims in Bagley area newspapers and is working with an interfaith coalition to counter Dakdok’s hate and bigotry. A community dialogue, “From Fear to Understanding,” will be held on Saturday, August 23 at Farm by the Lake in Bagley.
Several attendees expressed concerns about the safety and security of Muslims at tonight’s event, when more Muslims are expected to attend. One attendee said, “The audience doesn’t know where the line is, or that a line even exists. When Mr. Dakdok works a crowd, he does so skillfully, provoking responses and goading reactions. After listening to fear mongering messages the previous night, such as ‘Muslims are destroying the world,’ ‘Muslims are coming to kill your children and grandchildren,’ and ‘We will not be safe until all the Muslims are deported and all the mosques are closed,’ we fear for the safety of Muslims in the audience.”
In a June 17 letter to the school district, CAIR-MN wrote:
“Given the hostile nature of the topics, we are concerned about the safety of Muslims and others in attendance. Although Dakdok has the First Amendment right to free speech, this right is not absolute and has been limited when it is considered to be harassment, intimidating or encouraging violence against a particular group of people.
“Hate speech incites violence against American Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim, and is contrary to the school district’s Harassment and Violence Policy: “The policy of the school district is to maintain a learning and working environment that is free from harassment and violence on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, familial status, status with regard to public assistance, sexual orientation, or disability. The school district prohibits any form of harassment or violence on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, familial status, status with regard to public assistance, sexual orientation, or disability.
“The district’s Continuous Non-Discrimination Statement says: “Bagley Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex/gender, sexual orientation, race, color, creed, national origin, religion, disability, receipt of public assistance, marital status, and age in admission to, access to, treatment in, or employment in its programs and activities in compliance with Title VI and VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments to the Civil Rights Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“The district Authorization of Facility Use Policy and the school district’s Harassment and Violence Policy gives you the authority to deny hate events that pose safety concerns in your school facility. The policy states: “The Bagley School district reserves the right to deny requests for facility use if an administrator has reason to believe that the activity is not suitable for the facility being requested or has reason to believe that a supervisor for the activity is not appropriate and/or acted inconsistently with the policies.”
ELIAS ISQUITH (Salon.com)
Although its reputation for intellectual seriousness was previously overstated, those who worried that former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint’s ascension as chief of the Heritage Foundation would lead to the right-wing think tank’s disgrace are looking mighty prescient after a Monday afternoon panel on the Banghazi attack’s lingering “unanswered questions” devolved into a bigoted freak show.
When one considers the panelists involved, it’s unlikely the so-called discussion was ever going to go too well. Alongside straight-up crank and professional bigot Frank Gaffney, Heritage also invited ACT! for America’s Brigitte Gabriel (known for repeatedly describing Muslims as “barbarians“) and Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi’s Clare Lopez (who previously described the Obama administration as having “switched sides” in the war on terror). Leading the conversation was Chris Plante, a conservative talk radio host.
According to the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, while the panel rather quickly and predictably transitioned from vague expressions of concern about a Benghazi conspiracy to a more free-floating animus toward Islam and Muslims, things didn’t get really ugly until one audience member, an American University law student named Saba Ahmed, decided to push back against the panelists’ many ignorant and harmful assertions.
“We portray Islam and all Muslims as bad, but there’s 1.8 billion followers of Islam,” Ahmed reportedly told the panel. “We have 8 million-plus Muslim Americans in this country, and I don’t see them represented here.”
This was unacceptable. Gabriel was the first to attack, according to Milbank, responding that “180 million to 300 million” Muslims are “dedicated to the destruction of Western civilization” and that the “peaceful majority” of the world’s Muslims “were irrelevant” on September 11, 2001. Besides, Muslims are like Nazis, Gabriel argued: “Most Germans were peaceful,” she said, “yet the Nazis drove the agenda, and as a result, 60 million died.”
Gabriel then questioned Ahmed’s citizenship before telling her that “political correctness” of the kind she spouts should be kept “in the garbage” where it belongs. Ahmed was then asked “Where are the others speaking out?” but before she could explain why demanding a community of hundreds of millions have “others” who “speak out” against murder is ridiculous and disingenuous, the audience drowned her out with a standing ovation.
As the evening progressed, Plante implied Ambassador Chris Stevens’ real cause of death was being hidden, Gabriel suggested Stevens was secretly working on a weapons-swap between Libya and Syria, and Lopez joked about how journalists covering the attack are secretly friends with Islamist terrorists, with whom they were “sipping frappes … in juice bars.” One audience member even suggested that Gen. Carter Ham, then-commander of U.S. Africa Command, had been “placed under house arrest” so as to allow the attack to occur. Plante said he’d heard the same.
Here’s video of the debacle, via Media Matters:
New ads on Metro buses with a photo of Adolf Hitler and a prominent Muslim leader represent the “bigotry and hate” that divide people and spur hatred, religious groups said Monday morning.
“These ads are trying to say the Quran calls for hatred of Judaism,” said Ira Weiss, who represented the Jewish Islam Dialogue Society, which works to bring together Muslims and Jews. “It is easy to cherry-pick nasty parts of Scripture in any text – they were written thousands of years ago,” Weiss said at a news conference in Rockville. “These words used in the ads are like the devil using Scripture against its religion.”
The ads, created by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, feature a photo of Hitler speaking to Haj Amin al-Husseini, who was grand mufti of Jerusalem at the time. They ask people to stop aiding Muslims in an attempt to “end racism.” The ads, which are on 20 Metro buses, declare that “Islamic Jew-hatred” is “in the Quran,” adding the “two thirds of all US aid goes to Islamic countries.”
The Montgomery County Faith Community Working Group – which represents the county’s Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Sikh, Unitarian Universalist and Zoroastrian communities – organized the news conference and rally, which drew about 100 people to the Rockville Metro station.
James Stow, director of the county’s Office of Humans Rights, said he was happy to support the religious protest against the ad. “Freedom is not free,” Stow said. “It’s heavy lifting.” He said he recognized that the group that bought the ads enjoys freedom of speech, but it should use that freedom to speak against hate.
Meanwhile, Pamela Geller of New York, who leads that pro-Israel group, said she was surprised by the protest because she has not heard of other protests against what she called the teachings of the Quran. “I am surprised that these same Muslim leaders are not protesting the anti-Semitic texts and teachings in the Quran,” Geller wrote in an email to The Gazette. “Instead they protest those of us that oppose such hate speech.”
The ads concern U.S. aid to other countries, Geller said. “So if that is the issue, why didn’t these protesters protest against the American Muslims for Palestine ad?” she asked, referring to that group’s ads on Metro buses in April.
Those ads read: “We’re sweating April 15 so Israelis don’t have to! Stop US aid to Israel’s occupation.” The message was superimposed over a tax return form, next to a picture of Uncle Sam waving an Israeli flag.
“As for bringing in religion where it is not needed, that is not my doing,” Geller wrote. “The Islamic jihadists have done that, impeding peace in Israel with their genocidal religion-based hatred, as Hamas so memorably expressed recently when they said on their Aqsa TV channel: ‘Killing Jews is worship that draws us closer to Allah.’ It is chilling that anyone in the U.S. would protest against an attempt to draw attention to that hateful and violent ethos.”
Those who attended Monday’s rally called the protest a good step forward.
Imam Faizul Khan, an administrator with the Islamic Society of the Washington Area and co-chairman of the Faith Community Advisory Council, said he came because he was “concerned with the message of division, bigotry and hate.” “I came today to help bring awareness to the community, and bring unity,” Khan said. “I believe the best next step is to create an infection of love in Montgomery County and continue our momentum.”
Weiss said he realizes that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which runs the Metro bus and rail systems, did not want to place these ads on its buses, but the advertising space has been ruled by the courts as a public forum protected by the First Amendment.
“We may not decline ads based on their political content,” WMATA said in an email to The Gazette. “WMATA does not endorse the advertising on our system, and ads do not reflect the position of the Authority. There is a disclaimer statement printed on the advertising stating this.”
DOUG SAUNDERS (Globe And Mail)
When Russian President Vladimir Putin uses military force to menace Ukraine’s democracy and seize chunks of its territory, when he uses authoritarian laws to crack down on homosexuals and minorities and imprison dissidents, there are those among us, including a record number of elected politicians, who cheer.
A generation ago, Moscow’s fans and enablers would have all been on the far left. Today, with the exception of a marginal group of leftists motivated by anti-Americanism, Mr. Putin’s cheerleaders are all conservatives – some in the United States and Canada, and a record number who have just come to power in Europe.
Last week’s European Parliament elections saw a record number of Putin-admiring and Putin-emulating parties elected to Brussels. Some of these parties are anti-European Union, some are anti-immigrant, some are outright racist and anti-Semitic. They don’t tend to get along with one another, but one thing that unites them is an outspoken admiration for Mr. Putin.
Nigel Farage, the leader of the suddenly powerful United Kingdom Independence Party,used a magazine interview during the campaign to praise the Russian President, calling him the world leader he most admires. “Compared with the kids who run foreign policy in this country, I’ve more respect for him than our lot,” he said at a public event.
In words widely reported in the Russian media, he added that the EU has “blood on its hands” for supporting the democracy movement in Ukraine. Rather than posing a threat to Europe, Mr. Farage said, Russia has fallen prey to Europe’s “activist, militarist and expansionist foreign policy.”
Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front (which sent the lion’s share of French representatives to Brussels) is an even greater admirer. “I think he puts the interests of Russia and the Russian people first, so in this regard, I have the same amount of respect for him as for Ms. Merkel,” Ms. Le Pen said this week, adding that “a lot of things are said about Russia because for years it has been demonized on U.S. orders.” She, like her comrades across Europe, wants to end sanctions against Russia and restore “traditional, friendly” relations.
Geert Wilders, the mop-haired head of the Freedom Party in the Netherlands, has blamed the conflict in eastern Ukraine not on Russia but on “shameless Europhiles with their dreams of empire.” Ukraine’s democracy movement and the pro-European government it elected last week, he said, are run by “National Socialists, Jew-haters and other anti-democrats.” (In fact, extreme-right and anti-Semitic parties attracted about 2 per cent of the vote in the recent Ukrainian election.)
In the minds of such politicians, Europe’s response to Moscow’s incursions hasn’t been slow and mild; it’s been excessive. “We have always been told the European Union stands for peace,” Mr. Wilders said. “Now, we know better – the EU stands for war-mongering.”
These Westerners aren’t backing Mr. Putin out of pure Russophilia. Rather, they admire his embrace of a Christian and mono-ethnic identity for greater Russia, and his aggressive action against what they see as their enemies: European diversity and open borders, and minority groups – especially homosexuals and Muslims. Like them, Mr. Putin embraces the old conspiracy holding that Muslims are secretly plotting to take over Europe, a key plank for these parties.
That’s why North American right-wing anti-immigration activists, generally affiliated with the Republican Party and the right fringe of Canada’s Conservatives, have rushed to back Mr. Putin and the European parties that admire him.
American anti-Muslim activist Robert Spencer made a point of appearing on the Russia Today network (shortly after most of its American staff had quit and denounced it as a Kremlin propaganda outlet) to attack the United States and endorse Mr. Putin’s approach toward Muslim minorities. “Barack Obama is somebody who has been embarrassed on the world stage by Vladimir Putin more than once,” Mr. Spencer said.
And Ezra Levant, the right-wing pundit with Canada’s Sun Media,cheered France’s National Front, Britain’s UKIP and the other Putin-backing parties for their European election victories, praising their embrace of Putinist ideas: “The EU’s de facto abolition of borders … has let millions of migrants move from the poorer parts of the EU to the richer ones,” he explained, warning of “mass Islamic immigration that contains large elements refusing to accept Western, liberal values.”
Their victory is, he said, “a rejection of Obamaism, and a return to common sense, national conservatism. You could say it’s a bit of Stephen Harperism.”
To be fair, Mr. Harper has never endorsed such ideas. It is actually a bit of Vladimir Putinism.
By Doktor Zoom (Wonkette)
OMG you guys! Disgraced former torturer Allen West, super-patriot and Muslim-Hunter extraordinaire, has been tipped off to some earth-shattering proof of Muslim perfidy and scary creeping — or galloping! — sharia law! After spending the weekend calling Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl a “deserter” and hinting that there’s something “nefarious” about his release from the Taliban, and about Bergdahl’s father, Bob Bergdahl (who apparently doesn’t hate Muslims enough at all), West has revealed a “bombshell”: Bob Bergdahl spoke Arabic at the White House! Not only that, but he pretty much made the White House a holy Muslim shrine by doing that, according to a very smart person who emailed Allen West.
West says that he got an email from Clare Lopez, a “former CIA operations officer” who knows all sorts of stuff about Islam and the Middle East, and who is a personal friend of one Allen West. Lopez completely blows the lid off a huge cover-up, he says!
She emailed me this morning a very poignant analysis that only someone knowing language and Islam could ascertain. She wrote:
“What none of these media is reporting is that the father’s (SGT Bowe Bergdahl’s father Bob) first words at the WH were in Arabic – those words were “bism allah alrahman alraheem” – which means “in the name of Allah the most gracious and most merciful” – these are the opening words of every chapter of the Qur’an except one (the chapter of the sword – the 9th) – by uttering these words on the grounds of the WH, Bergdahl (the father) sanctified the WH and claimed it for Islam. There is no question but POTUS knows this.”
Folks, there is a lot to this whole episode — like Benghazi — that we may never know. And this is not conspiracy theory, it is truth based upon Arabic and Islamic dogma and tradition.
Is America going to continue to let Barack Hussein Obama invite parents of rescued POWs to the White House and claim it for Islam? This is not a conspiracy theory, this is genuine honest-to-god disloyalty to America. Or maybe — and we’re going to go out on a limb here — it’s a routine phrase in Muslim Prayer that doesn’t actually have any magical power whatsoever, except perhaps the power to freak out wingnuts.
Get ready for a lot more of this idiocy, folks; somehow, the fact that Bowe Bergdahl’s dad is sympathetic to Muslims has also been Very Big with the Stupidest Man on the Internet. Here’s how terrifying Bob Bergdahl is: He said a phrase in Arabic, and then OBAMA HUGGED HIM! That just doesn’t wash off, you know.
Be afraid. Be very afraid. And while you’re at it, maybe you should buy some more guns.
Follow Doktor Zoom on Twitter. He only hugs people who say certain phrases in French. Like, “Royale With Cheese.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has refused a trademark for the phrase “Stop the Islamization of America” because it is disparaging to Muslims.
The Federal Circuit ruled on Tuesday against blogger Pamela Geller, who founded a group by that name and runs a website called “Stop! Islamization of America.” The Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Reuters and the Washington Post have stories. How Appealing links to the opinion (PDF) and other coverage.
The ruling is based on a section of the Trademark Act that allows refusal of a trademark for matters that “may disparage … persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” A footnote in the decision notes that the parties alternate between the spelling “Islamization” and “Islamisation.” The opinion uses both spellings.
Geller was in the news for opposing construction of a mosque in New York City near the site of the World Trade Center. The Southern Poverty Law Center views Stop Islamization of America as a hate group, the Post says. She commented on the ruling in an email to Reuters.
“This is a complete whitewash and we knew we would be up against the PC (politically correct) bias in the court,” Geller wrote. “This is clear ongoing evidence of how the federal government and especially the courts, bend over backwards, kowtow and placate Muslim sensitivities.”
Law professor Eugene Volokh of the University of California at Los Angeles says his “tentative view” is that the exclusion of disparaging trademarks should be seen as unconstitutional. “But I’m not sure that courts will ultimately see this my way,” he writes at his blog, the Volokh Conspiracy.
Legal experts believe the case has implications for the fight over the name of the Washington Redskins, Reuters says.
The case is In re Geller and Spencer.
In 2012, anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative funded ads throughout the Metro system with a quote from the Quran next to a photo of the burning Twin Towers. Ads that cost Metro $35,000 over a failed effort to block them.
Now she’s back with another awful ad, this one claiming that “Islamic jew-hatred” is “in the Quran” as a response to an ad about “Israel’s occupation” from the American Muslims for Palestine. From Geller’s blog:
The DC Metro transit authority made multiple demands for the substantiation of every claim in our ads before they would accept the ad, and I, of course, happily provided that substantiation. The libelous American Muslims for Palestine antisemitic ad (below) did not have to provide substantiation. The MTA had no problem with their antisemitism. And you cannot provide evidence of a smear and a bigoted lie. But it is proof of the AMP’s hate.
Our ads are in response to the vicious Jew-hating ads that American Muslims for Palestine unleashed on Washington, DC Metro buses last month. And might I add, had we not sued and won in NYC and DC for violating our First Amendment rights when they tried to refuse our previous ads, our ads might never have gone up.
Because of the 2012 court ruling stating that Geller’s ads are protected speech, a Metro spokesperson said they declined to challenge them this time around. But they do sport the disclaimer: “This is a paid advertisement sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative. Advertising space is a designated public forum and does not imply WMATA’s endorsement of any views expressed.”
For the uninitiated, here’s a description of Geller from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which labeled her Stop Islamization of America foundation a hate group:
Pamela Geller is the anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead. She’s relentlessly shrill and coarse in her broad-brush denunciations of Islam and makes preposterous claims, such as that President Obama is the “love child” of Malcolm X. She makes no pretense of being learned in Islamic studies, leaving the argumentative heavy lifting to her Stop Islamization of America partner Robert Spencer. Geller has mingled comfortably with European racists and fascists, spoken favorably of South African racists, defended Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic and denied the existence of Serbian concentration camps. She has taken a strong pro-Israel stance to the point of being sharply critical of Jewish liberals.
See also “This deeply offensive ad is plastered on public buses in Washington, DC”,PolicyMic, 14 May 2014
Original guest article
By comparing results from two survey questions, we can get a much more refined view of the prevalence of Islamophobia in different demographic groups.
According to a well-known quote, “Knowledge is power.” We may think that we know who the Islamophobes are among society. But, how accurate are our assessments? One problem with many polls that attempt to measure the presence of Islamophobia is that they often do not distinguish between bias against or dislike of Muslims with general forms of bias or dislike of others. For example, suppose that someone says that they oppose building mosques. If the same person would also say that they oppose building churches, synagogues and any other house of worship, it generally makes more sense to categorize them as anti-religion rather than specifically anti-Islam. Fortunately, the Pew Research Center put out a poll in 2009 that has two questions that, when examined together, can provide us with an interesting take on this issue by specifically isolating bias against Muslims from biases against religious groups in general.
The questions begin with the introduction, “I’m going to read the names of some specific religious groups. For each one that I name, please tell me whether you would favor or oppose this group applying for government funds to provide social services to people who need them.” Two of the “groups” covered are interesting: first, “Individual churches, synagogues and other houses of worship” and second, “Muslim mosques.”
What makes these interesting is that we can look at the people who favor government funding for “individual churches, synagogues and other houses of worship” and see how that figure declines when that larger group is replaced by “Muslim mosques.” The first question should screen out people who object to government funding of any religious group providing social services, whether because they oppose government spending on social services or oppose the government outsourcing such activities (positions that are tied to views of government rather than religion) and those who oppose government providing such funding to religious groups (which could represent a view of government generally or a view on religion generally, but should not be specific to views of Islam). Then, when we switch to the second question, about Muslim mosques, any change is due to respondents’ views on Islam in particular. Thus, the drop in support is a relatively clean measure of Islamophobic responses separated out from other issues such as views of government or religion generally. This drop can be examined for different subgroups, allowing us to examine the relative degrees of Islamophobia across them. This drop may be more useful than a single question about how respondents view Muslims, as it may be the case that some groups of respondents are generally more friendly or hostile to religious groups in general as opposed to Muslims in particular.
Before presenting the results, it is worth noting a few caveats. First, the difference in the results represents Islamophobia among those willing to provide government funding to religious organizations for the purposes of providing social services generally. The questions do not provide any information on the degree of Islamophobia among those who oppose the government providing such funding to religious groups at all. Second, correlation is not causation. However, readers are invited to provide their thoughts on the reasons for the differential results across subgroups, and some thoughts will be provided below.
Now, on to the poll results.
The first subgroup examined by Pew is Age. Here are the results of Support along with two measures of the drop in support going from houses of worship generally to mosques:
There are a few interesting things to note here. First, in both the general house of worship and the mosque categories, support declines (with one exception) as age increases. Second, if we measure the decline in percentage points (the change in the share of the total group before screening with the first question), the declines are smallest for the two youngest age categories and then seem to roughly level off. Third, if we look at the percentage change (the change share of those in support on the first question), we see the same general pattern, but even more pronounced. (The 2009 results on age are consistent with a 2013 Pew survey finding that “[m]ost young people continue to reject the idea that Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers” and that younger people are more likely to say that Muslims suffer from discrimination.)
In terms of recommendations, there are two conflicting possibilities. One is that because here is a quite limited amount of Islamophobia among the youngest group, perhaps efforts that are devoted there should be focused elsewhere. A completely conflicting interpretation is that the near absence of Islamophobia in the youngest group is the result of those efforts, which should then be continued with future groups of young people if not expanded to cover other groups where possible.There are a few interesting things to note here. First, in both the general house of worship and the mosque categories, support declines (with one exception) as age increases. Second, if we measure the decline in percentage points (the change in the share of the total group before screening with the first question), the declines are smallest for the two youngest age categories and then seem to roughly level off. Third, if we look at the percentage change (the change share of those in support on the first question), we see the same general pattern, but even more pronounced. (The 2009 results on age are consistent with a 2013 Pew surveyfinding that “[m]ost young people continue to reject the idea that Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers” and that younger people are more likely to say that Muslims suffer from discrimination.)
The next category covered in Pew is household income. There does not seem to be much in the results, but they are presented here in case someone sees something worth discussing. (You may also note that the Total category results change a little from those in the Age table. This appears to be due to slight changes in the sample, perhaps based on people not being asked or not answering questions for the different types of categories.)
Next is marital status. In this case, it seems that the results are at least somewhat related to age, with the widowed category showing one of the highest levels of Islamophobia and the never been married the least.
Next, Pew presents the results by religion.
(Other Christian = Mormon, Orthodox, Unitarian, self-identified as Christian.)
It is worth noting that the atheist/agnostic/nothing in particular category shows the smallest amount of Islamophobia. This should be kept in mind when considering whether some of the prominent New Atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are representative of the broader atheist community. Second, while Jews are pretty much tied with other religious groups when considering houses of worship generally, they show the smallest dropoff, or the least amount of Islamophobia, and end up being the only religious group (even including atheist/agnostic/nothing in particular) with a majority support for government funding of social programs at mosques. If this were purely a question of how a minority (meaning non-Christian in the United States) religion is attentive to concerns that a minority religion would not receive its fair share of funding, we would expect to see similar results for the “other religion” category. Instead, that group falls a little closer to the higher level of Islamophobia in three Christian categories than to lower level among Jews. Similar to atheists, the lower than average rate of Islamophobia among Jews should be kept in mind when comparing the general Jewish population to prominent individuals; generally different from atheists, who tend to have fewer identity-specific institutions, one can think about whether mainstream Jewish education and communal/religious organizations have a substantial role in bringing about this result.(Other Christian = Mormon, Orthodox, Unitarian, self-identified as Christian.)
Next, we have education.
While support for government funding of social programs at houses of worship is relatively flat across education levels (or perhaps a bit U-shaped: higher at the ends than in the middle), it is distinctly lower for those without a high school diploma when it comes to funding for social programs at mosques. There clearly seems to be a story and a lesson here about how education helps reduce Islamophobia (while still keeping the correlation/causation caveat in mind).
The next category covered by Pew is sex. The differences seem to be relatively small, with a slightly greater degree of Islamophobia seen among males. In a bit of contrast, the 2013 Pew survey showed fairly clearly that men were more likely than women to say that Islam was more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers.While support for government funding of social programs at houses of worship is relatively flat across education levels (or perhaps a bit U-shaped: higher at the ends than in the middle), it is distinctly lower for those without a high school diploma when it comes to funding for social programs at mosques. There clearly seems to be a story and a lesson here about how education helps reduce Islamophobia (while still keeping the correlation/causation caveat in mind).
The final category studied by Pew is “political ideology.”
Depending on one’s expectations, the results here may be a bit surprising. The highest degree of Islamophobia is among conservatives, not those who identify as very conservative. Thoughts on this are welcome. Another interesting point is that the moderate and liberal results appear quite similar, with a small decline in Islamophobia among the very liberal. In this case, the 2013 Pew survey did show a clear ordering of results, with conservative Republicans most likely to say that Islam encourages violence among adherents, followed by moderate/liberal Republicans, Independents, moderate/conservative Democrats, and finally liberal Democrats.
Hopefully, the data above provide some amount of knowledge. It should go without saying that the data represents information aggregated across groups and do not prove that any single individual is or is not Islamophobic. After all, while those earning over $100,000 typically have below-average displays of Islamophobia in this poll, Robert Spencer falls into that category. And while a Jewish woman with some college but no degree would display three features associated with a below-average degree of Islamophobia, we have a prominent counter-example with those three characteristics. On the other hand, the data should not be ignored as it may provide useful information if we can figure out how to use it properly.