The Islamophobic characterizations rampant amongst the anti-Muslim movements are steeped in conspiracy theories.
Do we live in a conspiracy theory based culture?
Yes, and it is not just the United States but the globe which is affected by bad ideas/theories that gain significant or widespread social traction. This is not to say that one should be dismissive of all so-called “conspiracy theories,” there are some conspiracies that are well founded, buoyed by facts and proven to be true later.
“Anthropologists and social psychologists typically interpret conspiracy theories as responses to powerlessness—as ways of making sense of the bewildering social, economic, and political context of modern life. But not all conspiracy believers are powerless.” (emphasis mine)
How does this explain Islamophobic conspiracy theories? In general I have observed that Islamophobic conspiracy theories are not responses to a real sense of “powerlessness,” but rather a false sense of powerlessness coupled with a pervasive victim mentality. Many of those involved in forwarding Islamophobic conspiracies are in fact part of an elite political and financial class or receive support from such quarters (see Fear, Inc.).
Take Rep. Louie Gohmert, one of many US Congressmen who regularly engage in strange ideas about Muslims and Islam. Gohmert recently spilled his guts to Frank Gaffney regarding his belief that the Obama administration is receiving advice from the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood has become a catch-all phrase which is used to fear-monger, as though the organization was some omnipresent worldwide machine capable of manipulating heads of state, and yes such conspiracies are a part of a political program by the Right to retake the government, and yes such conspiracies do provide a narrative for their base to swallow and make sense of a fast changing world.
It will be intriguing to see the foreign policy debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. Will we see an appearance of the pervasive omnipresent-Muslim-Brotherhood-cobra-conspiracy-theory, with its venomous fangs biting into the USA?
by Brian Tashman (RightWingWatch)
Fresh after his speech insisting that President Obama is reestablishing the Ottoman Empire, Texas congressman Louie Gohmert told anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney that the Obama administration is “getting advice on how to deal with the Muslim Brotherhood from people who are in the Muslim Brotherhood.” He claimed that the Obama administration is sending money to “radical jihadists” in order to “buy [them] off,” not understanding that they can only use “raw power” against those who worship “a radical, mean-spirited, hateful Allah that these people that twist Islam believe in.”
Gohmert, who signed letters with Michele Bachmann calling for an anti-Muslim witch hunt within the administration that were ultimately rejected but lauded by Gaffney and Newt Gingrich, charged that Muslim Brotherhood agents may be the ones shaping Obama’s foreign policy. Gohmert claimed that Muslim Brotherhood operatives are involved in Janet Napolitano’s “super-secret, trusted, Homeland Security advisory council” but said she won’t give him the names. He also criticized Napolitano for allowing an Egyptian lawmaker to meet with members of the U.S. government in Washington, even after he was vetted by Homeland Security, the State Department and the Secret Service, because he is a member of a political party tied to a listed terrorist organization that has since renounced violence.
Gohmert: This administration thinks they’re going to buy off bullies, radical jihadists who want to destroy our way of life, they don’t understand that when you try to pay off a bully that wants to hurt you, not only do they not love you but they don’t respect you, they have more contempt for you, and this administration does not get that the only thing they understand is raw power and response that kills them and their beliefs of a radical, mean-spirited, hateful Allah that these people that twist Islam believe in. It tells them, ‘ah, Allah must not like what we’re doing’ because the United States had just overwhelmed and kill all of those who were trying to kill them.
Gaffney: Congressman, I mentioned that Newt Gingrich called you one of the National Security Five. That was in connection with a series of letters that you and Michele Bachmann and others sent out back in June asking about people who are associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, the prime mover behind much of this jihadism around the world, inside our government. You’ve not gotten answers to those inquires as I understand it, but as I understand it against the backdrop of this bewildering response by the administration, do you think that that may have something to do with the influence operations that these sorts of people are running inside the wire of our government?
Gohmert: I think it tells us very clearly that we are getting advice from people who are either A) intentionally misinforming them or misadvising them, or B) they are getting information from people that don’t have a clue about how to deal with our problem. It certainly is consistent, Janet Napolitano as you recall could not even tell me how many of her super-secret, trusted, Homeland Security advisory council or counter-violent extremism working group were actually Muslim Brotherhood. She didn’t know. When I brought up the fact that immediately before that there was a member of a known terrorist organization that had been allowed in the White House, she wasn’t even aware of it, she said that wasn’t true, but the next day when she was testifying before the Senate all the sudden she’d become aware of it and was able to talk about it but said ‘oh well he was vetted a number of times.’ These people have no idea what’s really going on, they are getting terrible advice from whomever and it certainly consisted with them getting advice on how to deal with the Muslim Brotherhood from people who are in the Muslim Brotherhood.