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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ignorance receptive to hate and lies

James Madison 1833 Britannica reprint
“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” [Fourth U.S. President James Madison, term: 1809-1817]

The Center for American Progress Action Fund unveils USA’s deepening dark side
Excerpt, editing, comment by 
Carolyn Bennett

The report, intentional or not, is illustrative of what happens when Americans over long periods embrace a “comfortable” status quo and refuse to engage or join other Americans who in the past continuing into the present have been targeted violently and have taken the brunt of a dark U.S. pattern of bigotry, delusional supremacy, irrational paranoia, fear-mongering and rabid propaganda, mob-raising and violence.

Deliberate ignorance willingly believes lies

The Center for American Progress recounts in its report: “On July 22, a man planted a bomb in an Oslo government building that killed eight people. A few hours after the explosion, he shot and killed 68 people, mostly teenagers, at a Labor Party youth camp on Norway’s Utoya Island.

“By midday, [media] pundits were speculating as to who had perpetrated the greatest massacre in Norwegian history since World War II. Numerous mainstream media outlets (The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic among others) speculated about an Al Qaeda connection and a ‘jihadist' motivation behind the attacks.

“By the next morning, it had become clear that the [mass killer] was a 32-year-old, white, blond-haired and blue-eyed Norwegian named Anders Breivik. He was not a Muslim but a self-described Christian conservative.”

Anders Breivik, according to his attorney, “claimed responsibility for his self-described ‘gruesome but necessary’ actions. On July 26, Breivik told the court that violence was ‘necessary’ to save Europe from Marxism and ‘Muslimization.’

“In his [Breivik’s] 1,500-page manifesto meticulously detailing his attack methods and aims to inspire others to extremist violence — Breivik vows ‘brutal and breathtaking operations which will result in casualties’ to fight the alleged ‘ongoing Islamic Colonization of Europe.’

“Breivik’s manifesto contains numerous footnotes and in-text citations to American [U.S.] bloggers and pundits, quoting them as experts on Islam’s ‘war against the West.’…

“A small group of anti-Muslim organizations and individuals in the United States — obscure to most Americans — wields great influence in shaping the national and international political debate,” says the Center for American Progress. “Their names are heralded within communities that are actively organizing against Islam and targeting Muslims in the United States.”

The Center’s Action Fund has conducted an in-depth study that sheds light on “a small, tightly networked group of misinformation experts guiding an [anti-Muslim] effort that reaches millions of Americans through effective advocates, media partners, and grassroots organizing.”  Beginning primarily “with five key people and their organizations, [they are] … sustained by funding from a clutch of key foundations,” the Center says, and this group “spreads hate and misinformation.”

Fast Facts on the Islamophobia Network

More than $40 million flowed from seven foundations over 10 years — The foundations funding the misinformation experts:

1.     Donors Capital Fund
2.     Richard Mellon Scaife Foundation
3.     Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
4.     Newton and Rochelle Becker
5.     Foundation and Newton and Rochelle Becker Charitable Trust
6.     Russell Berrie Foundation, Anchorage Charitable Fund and William
7.     Rosenwald Family Fund
8.     Fairbrook Foundation

misinformation experts

Five experts generate the false facts and materials used by political leaders, grassroots groups, and the media:

1.     Frank Gaffney at the Center for Security Policy
2.     David Yerushalmi at the Society of Americans for National Existence
3.     Daniel Pipes at the Middle East Forum
4.     Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch and Stop Islamization of America
5.     Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism

These experts travel the country and work with or testify before state legislatures calling for a ban on the nonexistent threat of Sharia law in America and proclaiming that the vast majority of  mosques in our country harbor Islamist terrorists or sympathizers.

David Yerushalmi’s ‘model legislation’ banning Sharia law has been cut and pasted into bills [legislative measures] in South Carolina, Texas, and Alaska. His video on how to draft an anti-Sharia bill and his online tools have been picked up nationwide.

reach and impact

“This movement is moving nationwide in more than 23 states — made possible by a combination of new, single-minded Islamophobia groups, exemplified by Brigitte Gabriel’s ACT! For America, Pam Geller’s Stop Islamization of America, David Horowitz’s Freedom Center, and existing groups such as the American Family Association and the Eagle Forum.

“Misinformation experts are broadcast and cited around the country and the world. U.S. politicians such as Representatives Peter King (R-New York), Allen West (R-Florida), and Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) repeat anti-Muslim attacks giving credence to incorrect facts.

“In September 2010, a Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that 49 percent of Americans held an unfavorable view of Islam, an increase from 39 percent in October of 2002.”

This report is fine as far as it goes. However, if we are to progress beyond the “is,” we must sense a critical connectedness, a historical perspective, a much broader context of life as it is lived and experienced.

What seems new or what studies tell us is “new” — we Americans often feign “shock” instead of admitting our culpability — is not new.

Our education deficiencies, our ease in fawning Right, Left or Center, our deliberate ignorance are the real enemies.

Fourth U.S. President Madison, again —
The Federalist, co-written by James Madison,
helped secure passage of the U.S. Constitution.
AP Britannica reprint

“No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. Of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.”

“Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power.”

Sources and notes

“Fear, Inc. — The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America” (Wajahat Ali, Eli Clifton, Matthew Duss, Lee Fang, Scott Keyes, and Faiz Shakir), August 2011, http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2011/08/pdf/islamophobia.pdf

Britannica notes on the Madisons and The Federalist

James Madison, husband of Dolley (b. March 16, 1751, Port Conway, Virginia, d. June 28, 1836, Montpelier, Virginia

Madison was the fourth president of the United States (1809–17) and one of the Founding Fathers of his country. At the Constitutional Convention (1787), he influenced the planning and ratification of the U.S. Constitution and collaborated with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay in the publication of the Federalist papers.

As a member of the new House of Representatives, he sponsored the first 10 amendments to the Constitution (the Bill of Rights). He was secretary of state under the third president, Thomas Jefferson, when the Louisiana Territory was purchased from France. The War of 1812 was fought during Madison’s presidency.

Federalist Papers (The Federalist): a series of 85 essays on the proposed new Constitution of the United States and on the nature of republican government (published between 1787 and 1788) by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay in an effort to persuade New York state voters to support ratification.

Seventy-seven of the essays first appeared serially in New York newspapers. They were reprinted in most other states and were published in book form as The Federalist on May 28, 1788. The remaining eight papers appeared in New York newspapers between June 14 and August 16.

“The authors of the Federalist papers presented a masterly defense of the new federal system and of the major departments in the proposed central government. They also argued that the existing government under the Articles of Confederation, the country’s first constitution, was defective and that the proposed Constitution would remedy its weaknesses without endangering the liberties of the people.” 

Dolley Madison née  Dolley Payne also called (1790–93)  Dolley Todd  (Dolley also spelled  Dolly) b. May 20, 1768, Guilford county, North Carolina, d. July 12, 1849, Washington, D.C.

Dolley (Dolly) Madison was raised in the plain style of her Quaker family and was renowned for her charm, warmth, and ingenuity. Her popularity as manager of the White House made that task a responsibility of every first lady who followed.

American first lady (1809–17) was partner of James Madison, the fourth president of the United States.

Photo captions

James Madison, detail of an oil painting by Asher B. Durand, 1833; in the collection of The New-York Historical Society Britannica.

The Federalist, written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, helped secure passage of the U.S. Constitution. AP in Britannica


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