Herman Cain Back to His Old Ways on Islamaphobia

November 15, 2011, 10:36 am | Posted by

hermancain1.jpgHerman Cain’s backslide into anti-Muslim bigotry continues this week with new comments in his interview with GQ magazine. Asked about his previous comments suggesting that, as President, he would not appoint a qualified Muslim to his cabinet, Cain reiterated his original sentiments:

Devin Gordon: Do you think that there is a greater tendency among the Muslim faith for that kind of extremism?

Herman Cain: That would be a judgment call that I’m probably not qualified to make, because I can’t speak on behalf of the entire Muslim community. I have talked with Muslims that are peaceful Muslims. And I have had one very well known Muslim voice say to me directly that a majority of Muslims share the extremist views.

Chris Heath: A majority?

Herman Cain: Yes, a majority.

Devin Gordon: Do you think he’s right?

Herman Cain: Yes, because that’s his community. That’s his community. I can’t tell you his name, but he is a very prominent voice in the Muslim community, and he said that.

Chris Heath: I just find that hard to believe.

Herman Cain: I find it hard to believe.

Chris Heath: But you’re believing it?

Herman Cain: Yes, because of the respect that I have for this individual. Because when he told me this, he said he wouldn’t want to be quoted or identified as having said that.

As a reminder, Cain’s original apology came as a result of his visit to the Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center in Virginia where he met with nationally respected Muslim leaders who Demonstrated the overwhelmingly peaceful, moderate nature of the Muslim community. When Cain says that he believes anonymous smears against Muslims writ large, he’s implicitly and unfairly accusing the Muslim leaders he met with, as well as millions of other Muslims.

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Faith Leaders Call on FBI to End Anti-Muslim Training Materials

November 4, 2011, 3:51 pm | Posted by

fbi logo.jpgThanks to the investigative work of Spencer Ackerman at Danger Room, we now more fully understand the extent to which anti-Muslim bias has permeated the FBI’s training resources over the last ten years.

While the Bureau has acknowledged the problem and launched an investigative review of all of their material, it’s important that outside groups continue to hold them accountable. That’s why it’s good to see religious leaders (including FPL Executive Director Rev. Jennifer Butler) speaking up to call for a thorough correction:

There exists in our country today a pervasive, unsettling, well-documented trend of anti-Muslim fear and bigotry. The prospect of those individuals responsible for the protection of our nation–law enforcement and defense personnel–being trained with false information is even more unsettling. The integrity of the information used to train government personnel should be above reproach and when that standard is not met, we as faith leaders feel a moral responsibility to shine a light on the problem.

From the histories of each of our faith traditions, we know all too well the kind of discrimination and hatred our friends in the Muslim American community face today. We also know that any attack on the ability of the members of one religious group to freely exercise their faith is a threat to all Americans, to the religious freedoms we all hold dear.

Muslim Americans are no less entitled to the religious protections afforded under our Constitution than any other religious community. We are blessed to live in a country where the free exercise of religion, in and of itself, does not render an individual suspect under the law. Muslim Americans are entitled to practice their faith and speak freely–even if it is to raise concerns about troubling government policy. Protecting religious liberty is most critical in times of crisis and controversy, and our government should make every effort to ensure this integral part of our democracy is not eroded.

We hope that you will convene an interagency task force to investigate and resolve this situation. We also hope that you will make clear that religious expression and belief are protected by the First Amendment–not cause for suspicion.

Letter signers include: Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ; Rev. Jennifer Butler, Executive Director, Faith in Public Life; Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President, Interfaith Alliance; Rabbi Steve Gutow, President, Jewish Council for Public Affairs; Rev. Richard L. Killmer, Executive Director, National Religious Campaign Against Torture; Rev. Michael Kinnamon, Ph.D., General Secretary, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA; Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College; Rev. Steven D. Martin, Executive Director, New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good; Rev. Peter Morales, President, Unitarian Universalist Association; Rabbi David Saperstein, Director and Counsel, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky, Ph. D., Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies, Director, Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue, Jewish Theological Seminary; Jim Winkler, General Secretary, United Methodist General Board of Church and Society; The Rev. J. Brent Walker, Executive Direct, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty; Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Photo credit: bhrome, Flickr

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Muslim Reality Show Premieres this Month

November 4, 2011, 10:28 am | Posted by

In July, we told you about neuroscientists’ discovery that stereotypes are a reflex controlled by our brains, and that humans can train their minds to neutralize that reflex by viewing positive media images of a group against which they hold biases.

As part of that story, Daniel Tutt, backed by science and a strong political conviction toward positive change, made a bold call to action: “More nuanced Muslim characters that go beyond the stereotypical frames are a good start, yet neuroscience shows that we need significantly more positive and multidimensional content to effectively reduce prejudice.”

That same month, we were excited to learn about one such example of positive Muslim imagery in the planned TLC show, “All-American Muslim”, that would follow a diverse group of five Muslim-American families in Dearborn, Michigan.

The planned show has now become reality, and trailers are up for the November 13th premiere on TLC.

While other reality shows often come under fire for playing to the worst stereotypes of different groups of people, here’s hoping that “All-American Muslim” succeeds in breaking down barriers and helps to change the negative perceptions of Muslim Americans.

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Muslim Scholars Debunk Anti-Islam Myth

October 21, 2011, 12:11 pm | Posted by

fiqh council north america.JPGTired of the conservative smear that faithful Muslims can’t be loyal Americans, a group of Islamic scholars has written a statement debunking this myth.

The document, Resolution On Being Faithful Muslims and Loyal Americans, was written by the Fiqh Council of North America and goes right to the heart of the matter:

Contrary to erroneous perceptions and Islamophobic propaganda of political extremists from various backgrounds, the true and authentic teachings of Islam promote the sanctity of human life, dignity of all humans, and respect of human, civil and political rights. Islamic teachings uphold religious freedom and adherence to the same universal moral values which are accepted by the majority of people of all backgrounds and upon which the US Constitution was established and according to which the Bill of Rights was enunciated.

Unfortunately, I doubt this statement will do much to change the mind of the extremists who propagate harmful anti-Muslim misinformation, but at the least it helps marginalize them, showing them as the conspiracy theorists they really are and providing yet another public response to those who ask where the “moderate” Muslims are.

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Herman Cain Backslides on Anti-Islam Conspiracy Theories

October 3, 2011, 12:16 pm | Posted by

Early in the Republican presidential campaign, Herman Cain made a name for himself as the candidate most willing to publicly endorse the conspiracy theories of anti-Islam extremists and openly supported requiring loyalty oaths of Muslim candidates for public service.

But in a hopeful turn, Cain changed his tune after visiting with a Virginia Islamic center and meeting some actual Muslim-Americans face-to-face. His subsequent apology was a real victory for religious freedom and American values.

But apparently this conversion was short lived. Asked about sharia law conspiracy theories on ABC’s This Week yesterday, Cain reverted to his old self:

CAIN: Call me crazy. … Some people would infuse Sharia Law in our courts system if we allow it. I honestly believe that. So even if he calls me crazy, I am going to make sure that they don’t infuse it little by little by little. … American laws in American courts, period.

Faiz Shakir at Think Progress gives the context:

The “creeping Sharia” threat, as CAP explained in our report “Fear, Inc.,” is the product of a hate campaign organized by a small number of Islamophobic actors who are trying to cast suspicion on the presence of all Muslims in America. In fact, Cain’s language of “American laws in American courts” is lifted directly from a right-wing lawyer named David Yerushalmi, who has been leading an effort to pass anti-Sharia measures in roughly two dozen states.

Needless to say, this news is severely disappointing for those of us who greeted Cain’s previous change of heart as real progress toward marginalizing Islamophobia on the campaign trail.

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