Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

The network of Islamophobia and misinformation: fake news and the Holocaust

Daily Collegian File Photo

While there are endless problematic, idiotic or downright terrifying topics to discuss in the second week of Donald Trump’s presidency, the topic of fake news seems most insidious to me at the moment.

Fake news, and the “alternative facts” contained within it, popped up frequently during the election cycle, leaving many clamoring to find a definitive explanation for its rise. The social media echo chamber, the anti-intellectual movement, the public’s increasing mistrust of the media and Trump’s talents as a manipulator have all contributed to this rise, and to the confusion surrounding it. Each cause deserves to be examined in its own right, but I will explore one of the most terrifying explanations of the spread of fake news: the deliberate dissemination of blatantly false information in order to shape public opinion for private interests.

I am referring to a “network of Islamophobia” that has plagued the United States since long before Trump was anything other than a spray-tanned celebrity.

This network consists of anti-Muslim foundations and activists, misinformation experts and certain religious groups and their allies in the media and in politics. Each of these groups profoundly and purposefully misrepresent Islam as a religion and ideology, its practitioners as people and the causes and facts behind terrorism.

Their main goal is to create the sense that the United States (both physically and ideologically) is under attack by Muslim individuals, Islamic ideology and Islamic countries. To do this, they misrepresent facts about violence perpetrated against Americans by Muslims, in particular refugees, and seek to distort the beliefs of the average Muslim, while portraying all Muslim countries as backward and violent. Additionally, they misconstrue Sharia Law as a totalitarian ideology committed to destroying the west and western values, when in reality Sharia law is only a manifestation of Islamic beliefs and is in no way related to the west.

This spreading of misinformation begins with seven major organizations, each of which has pumped millions of dollars into anti-Islamic think tanks. Indeed, between 2001 and 2009 these seven organizations donated 42.6 million dollars to anti-Islamic organizations, which was then used to fund biased and unscientific research about the dangers of Muslims. This money was also used to fund “experts” on Islam who were in fact devoted to spreading falsehoods about the religion and those who practice it. These experts give talks and publish op-eds masquerading as news to get their message out. In addition, they have been given a voice on conservative media platforms such as Fox News and programs hosted by Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck

Experts also consult certain grassroots organizations. Speaking at their conferences and on their radio and television shows while often writing pieces on their websites, these “experts” constantly rail against Islam. Much of the propaganda and misinformation released by such speakers is then used as fodder for donation appeals by these grassroots organizations (which are also often rooted in evangelical Christian ideology), which can then use this money to fund politicians with an anti-Islamic bent.

This means that the public, especially individuals with their finger on the conservative pulse, are constantly being bombarded with anti-Islam rhetoric, propaganda and exaggerations or lies from seemingly different sources, which all ultimately have their roots in the same few organizations and people. It is no wonder then that these “facts” have come to embed themselves in the minds of many Americans. It was easy for Trump to coopt these ideas into his vision of a declining America under attack from bleeding-heart liberals, the media, Mexicans and Muslims. It is an appealing story, and one that was already deeply rooted in the minds of many Americans before Trump even made an appearance on the political scene.

Blaming immigrants, refugees and Muslims is an easy answer to the devastatingly complex question of America’s “decline.” It provides a group of people that we can all rally against and direct our anger toward. This network of misinformation is eerily similar to the network of anti-Semitic propaganda that swirled in Germany before World War II. I am not saying that Trump can be equated to Hitler, but I am saying that the spreading of blatant falsehoods about a religion and blaming its members for the problems of an entire country never works out well for anybody. I was horrified when Trump did not mention Jews in his statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. To me, that choice is a statement that he is deliberately trying to refrain from reminding us of the consequences of directing hatred and fear towards a specific religion.

The concoction of hatred and fear that this deliberate deception of the public has led to is, in a word, terrifying.

Christin Howard is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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  • S

    Sitting BullFeb 6, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    David – Don’t you worry I have survival instinct. As should be obvious by our UMASS brethren, they do not. I shudder to see what the US will become by the end of my lifetime.

  • D

    David Hunt 1990Feb 3, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    @Sitting Bull

    If you – or anyone – can watch this video and NOT be afraid, then you have no survival instinct.

  • D

    David Hunt 1990Feb 3, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    @Sitting Bull: They, and I include the original author, won’t read these posts or follow the associated links.

    This is one of the *cough cough* benefits of the whole “fake news” smear; the mental and cognitive isolation of people from information that might jar them or at least cause them to question. By labeling anything that doesn’t already match their mental template of what is “fake news”, the propagandized can be kept from questioning.

    Like Goebbel’s BIG LIE, however, it relies on insulating people from the consequences of their beliefs. If the rapefugees settle in Amherst, and start attacking women, anally raping boys, robbing, sex grooming, etc. – all things they do in Europe now – people will be faced with the adverse consequences.

    IMHO, Europe has two choices, and only two. Acquiesce to becoming, eventually, Islamic, or the “Spanish Solution” – driving them out bloodily (and it WILL be bloody), and that driving out will require shipping the Left who invited them in… out as well.

  • S

    Sitting BullFeb 3, 2017 at 9:34 am

    You can’t get any more persuasive than these posts. Islam is the most dangerous ideology that has ever existed. And that is saying something. A mass brainwashing of 1 billion people on this planet. We have enough problems. Europe is fast becoming a museum where Europeans used to live. Thanks, but I’ll take a pass on importing this scourge and contributing to the suicide of our nation.

  • D

    David Hunt 1990Feb 3, 2017 at 6:28 am

    No no no no no, Mr. Fitzgerald, you just don’t understaaaaaaaand.

    To a Leftist, THE biggest crime is to discriminate. Literally, people like Ms. Howard would rather see America overtaken by Sharia law rather than admit some cultures are better than others.

    YOU… might actually enjoy Evan Sayet’s keystone essay, Regurgitating the Apple:

    And here he talks about his “Unified Theory of Liberalism”. He’s funny, but OH-so-spot-on.

  • D

    David FitzgeraldFeb 2, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    thank you Christin Howard for writing this

    I find it disingenuous that you referred to 2001 but didn’t mention the biggest FACT of 2001

    3,000 Americans were murdered by radical Islamist terrorists on September 11th

    if you consider that too far back in time, let’s refer to 2016

    50 Americans were murdered by a radical Islamist terrorist in Orlando

    why did he perpetrate such a horrible crime against the Orlando LGBTQ community?

    if you can find the answer to that, you will be on your way to writing a follow up to today’s piece where you actually include relevant FACTS that suggest the reasons for American attitudes towards Islamic ideology

    otherwise, I would encourage one of your colleagues to write this

    a concerned UMass employee

  • D

    David Hunt 1990Feb 2, 2017 at 11:50 am

    And let’s talk Islamic history. Islam is, in aggregate, probably the single biggest murder and enslavement machine in human history.

    And you don’t mind if they come here. You’ve lost your survival instinct.

    HERE is why people are afraid of Islamists:

    Why We Are Afraid, A 1400 Year Secret, by Dr Bill Warner

    WHO is afraid of the radicals? People who – you know – actually study the HISTORY of Islam from Mohammed forward. People like Brigitte Gabriel, a woman from FORMERLY Christian Lebanon – at least, it was until the “Palestinian” refugees came streaming in.

    Must Watch: 1400 yrs of Islam history in a few minutes…

    And here she discusses their long-term plan to subvert and conquer America… with the help of “useful idiots” like Ms. Howard:

    Brigitte Gabriel: Radical Islam: The Plan to Destroy America from Within: Infiltration (2011)

    And here’s a great write-up of what they plan:

    Ms. Howard, this is what the Islamists want to do TO YOU and EVERY SINGLE WOMAN:×304.jpg

    Under Sharia law, your husband literally owns you. He can legally rape you if you are not “in the mood”; he can beat you and as long as he doesn’t leave bruises, it’s OK per Sharia law.

    And you’re OK with this????

  • E

    Ed CuttingFeb 2, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Why is no one mentioning Enku Gelaye and ACT in these concerns?

  • D

    David Hunt 1990Feb 2, 2017 at 9:38 am

    And let’s not forget how Sunni Sharia law treats gays:

    And from the Shiite world of Iran:

    Yeah, let’s bring them here by the boatload. What could go wrong?

  • D

    David Hunt 1990Feb 2, 2017 at 9:33 am

    What have the refugees done to Sweden? Turned it into the rape capital of Europe, if not the world.

    What have they done to Germany? Made German women afraid to go out at night.

    What have they done across Europe? Turned Synagogues into fortified buildings with 24/7 armed guards.

    What have they done across Europe with trucks, bombs, guns, etc.?

    Hey, let’s bring millions of them here. What could go wrong?

    Nice… Paris… coming soon to crowds near you. The inability of Leftists to learn from the experiences of others never ceases to amaze me.

  • D

    David Hunt 1990Feb 2, 2017 at 9:26 am

    I find the irony of a feminist and gay-friendly person being supportive of Sharia law – which executes gays and consigns women to a life of slavery and being nothing more than a sex toy and baby factory – pegging out the IRONY-O-METER.