Anti-Muslim activists in the United States were operating in a “post-truth era” and putting out “alternative facts” long before those phrases entered the language. For the last decade they have been spreading provable falsehoods through their well-organized network of publications and websites.
A major theme of those falsehoods is telling the US public that Islam is inherently dangerous and that American Muslims, even if they do not embrace extremist religious beliefs or violent actions, are still a threat to national security. To back up that conclusion, the well-funded Islamophobia publicity machine incessantly repeats two specific assertions.
The first is that Muslims in this country have been engaged in a “stealth” or “civilizational jihad”—a long-term, far-reaching conspiracy to infiltrate the US legal system and other public institutions and bring America under Islamic law. The companion claim is that mainstream Muslim-American organizations are effectively “fronts” for the Muslim Brotherhood and so secretly controlled by international terrorists. In fact, the Brotherhood has not been designated as a terror organization by the US government, and there are not the slightest grounds for thinking it, or any other secret force, controls any national Muslim-American group.
The Islamophobes offer only two pieces of supporting “evidence,” one for each of those claims. Exhibit A is a document falsely called the Brotherhood’s “master plan” for the clandestine effort to establish Muslim dominance in the United States. Exhibit B is a list of several hundred “unindicted co-conspirators,” including the Council on American Islamic Relations and other mainstream national Muslim organizations, that federal prosecutors put into the record during a 2007 terrorism-financing trial in Texas.
If you look at the exhibits themselves, instead of the descriptions of them by anti-Muslim groups, it’s obvious that neither is what the Islamophobes say it is or proves what they allege it proves.
The Secret Plan That Wasn’t
Let’s start with the so-called master plan, a memorandum written nearly three decades ago that is not just the centerpiece but essentially the sole source for the tale of a “civilizational jihad” conspiracy.
The Islamophobia network unfailingly refers to the memorandum as an official declaration of Muslim Brotherhood strategy. Frank Gaffney, head of the Center for Security Policy and perhaps the country’s most prominent Islamophobe, called it “the Muslim Brotherhood secret plan for taking down our country.” Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, two other leading voices in the anti-Muslim chorus, have written that “the Brotherhood lays out a plan [in the document] to do nothing less than conquer and Islamize the United States.”