"Islamophobic Muslims"? Such is the surreal conclusion of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (IPSU)'s 2018 American Muslim Poll, which was presented before about forty at Washington, D.C.'s National Press Club on May 1. This piece of propaganda attempts to downplay uncomfortable realities recognized by American Muslims themselves.
Advising the report's authors was Islamism apologist John Esposito, founding director of Georgetown University's Saudi-funded Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU), ISPU's partner in the study. The ACMCU's "Islamophobia"-fighting Bridge Initiative funded the survey and its new "Islamophobia Index." Bridge Initiative senior research fellow Arsalan Iftikhar, formerly of the Hamas-derived Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), attended the panel event, as did Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, the CATO Institute's "libertarian for sharia."
ISPU director of research and Esposito protégé Dalia Mogahed entered the realm of sheer fantasy in discussing the report's findings on Muslims and violence. She highlighted the report's outdated, ludicrous claim that "[m]ost American terrorist fatalities are at the hands of white supremacists." America's steady death toll from jihadists has clearly refuted this canard.
Mogahed offered a flagrantly misleading assessment of the poll statement "Most Muslims living in the United States are more prone to violence than other people." She fretted over this claim receiving high approval from Muslims themselves (18 percent agreeing), surpassed only by white evangelicals at 23 percent, while the general public averaged 13 percent. The report baselessly attributes such welcome self-criticism to media "dehumanization of Muslims," resulting in "internalized stigmatization" and the aforementioned "Islamophobic Muslims."
Similarly, the report claims absurdly that "like everyone else, American Muslims are getting their perception of Muslims and violence from the media, not personal experience." Mogahed embraced this thesis without any acknowledgment that radical mosque sermons, local jihadists gone abroad to fight, and conflicts throughout the Middle East might influence American Muslims. These and other possible factors obviate the report's equally irrational claim that "[s]ince there are several million American Muslims, the probability that a member of the community actually knows someone personally involved in violence is next to zero."
Mogahed ignored inconvenient survey results. "I believe my faith community is more prone to negative behavior than other faith communities" received 30 percent approval from American Muslims but only 11 percent from the general public. Likewise, 8 percent of Muslims, as opposed to 6 percent in the general public, approved of the statement "Most Muslims living in the United States are less civilized than other people." Both 12 percent of Muslims and the general public agreed with the statement "Most Muslims living in the United States are hostile to the United States."
These findings contradict the report's more positive claims. "Muslims tended to rate the community more positively on topics that can be assessed from personal experience (such as whether or not Muslims discriminate against women or are hostile to the U.S.)," the report states. The results showing Muslims embracing women's equality raise questions over whether Muslims see matters like polygamy as a form of "less civilized" or "negative behavior."
Additionally, some of the survey questions presuppose anti-Muslim animus. In discussing questions that focus on a "ban on visas to Muslims wanting to enter the United States," Mogahed noted that the report recognizes this proposal as a "stronger variant of the proposed legislation" under President Donald Trump. Similarly, the survey asks about views on a "surveillance program targeting mosques in the US," a broad statement that omits the radical mosques the public might want surveilled.
Mogahed's fellow panelists raised no such concerns, but rather, like Georgetown University adjunct professor Mehdi Hasan, decried an "ongoing casual normalization of Islamophobia at the highest levels of U.S. politics and the media." He focused on Trump's recent appointments of John Bolton and Mike Pompeo as national security adviser and secretary of state, respectively. Both "are card-carrying Islamophobes" he maintained, citing groups like the leftist slander machine Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Even worse, Hasan compared Pompeo to an "open anti-Semite or Holocaust denier."
Esposito also bashed Pompeo, stating arrogantly that "even trying to figure it out how he made it to the CIA is incredible." People from Pompeo's home state of Kansas allegedly told Esposito that the new secretary of state "is to the right of Attila [the] Hun." Meanwhile, Esposito had "no doubt" that any Trump impeachment would cause street violence among white supremacist groups.
White supremacists also dominated the thinking of the George Soros-supported religious left leader Jim Wallis, who defamed Christian conservatives as racists with no credible political views. In the 1980s, "Republican far-right operatives whose movement was steeped in racism ... took over the white evangelical world" and created the "religious right." Likewise, Trump "objectively is antithetical to the ethics of Jesus Christ," Wallis declared.
ISPU's flawed report nevertheless documents American Muslims raising alarms about disturbing trends within their own community. Yet, true to form, Esposito, Mogahed, and the other panelists purposefully buried the lede in order to promote the victimology of "Islamophobia." While Hasan praised ISPU's report as a counter to a "post-truth, alternative fact era," other commentators have already dismissed this poll, noting Esposito's and Mogahed's past attempts to skew statistics to support their apologias for Islamism. Both the poll and the panelists' efforts to spin it are typical of the politicized, biased world of Middle East studies, where intellectually corrupt scholarship is common currency.
Andrew E. Harrod is a Campus Watch fellow, freelance researcher, and writer who holds a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a J.D. from George Washington University Law School. He is a fellow with the Lawfare Project. Follow him on Twitter at @AEHarrod.