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Islamophobia: A Well-Funded American “Fear” Industry

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Hatem Bazian

Hatem Bazian

By Hatem Bazian

In 2011, the Center for American Progress published a groundbreaking report, “Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” which managed to expose for the first time the funding sources behind the bigotry producing Islamophobic industry, the individuals responsible and the effective strategies that made it possible to impact the mainstream.

The report managed to shift the focus and correctly highlighted the infrastructure behind the growing Islamophobia phenomena and provided empirical evidence that until then was only theorized.

The “Fear Inc.” authors identified seven foundations that provided a total of $42.6 million between 2001 and 2009 to fund organizations and individual spreading anti-Muslim bigotry in the country.

What the report clearly documented is that, rather than there being a large grouping and widespread anti-Muslim popular movement, the researchers discovered a small network of organizations, scholars and activists that are well-funded and committed to misinformation, machination and bigoted rhetoric.

The 2011 report concluded that “the efforts of a small cadre of funders and misinformation experts were amplified by an echo chamber of the religious right, conservative media, grassroots organizations, and politicians who sought to introduce a fringe perspective on

On Feb. 11, 2015 CAP released “Fear Inc. 2.0,” the second installment in the series, which builds upon the initial research and provides deeper analysis of the Islamophobia network and the current themes utilized in targeting the American Muslim community.

The report examines Islamophobia within the religious right and the ability of groups to increasingly deploy “anti-Islamic rhetoric” and to “push this…discourse into mainstream GOP politics.”

The religious right and the Republican party has an acute Islamophobia problem, with grassroots activists increasingly at ease in expressing anti-Muslim statements. Certainly, debates about national security and terrorism are legitimate topics, but among religious-right activists and sections of the Republican party, Islamophobic discourse has become connected to the broader cultural wars, with a distinct messianic and clash-of-civilizations rhetoric.

In chapter two of “Fear Inc. 2.0, ” the report examines the 2014 Values Voter Summit, pointing out that the gathering “heard from many of the architects and amplifiers of the Islamophobia network.”

Speakers at the VVS made sure to emphasize that we are at war with Islam.

What is clear is that the religious right has made Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry a major rallying point for activists across the country and deploying it within a broader political strategy.

One key element of this strategy, according to the report, is the national anti-Sharia campaign led by David Yerushalmi, “the lawyer responsible for the movement and who drafted the model…legislation used by activists across the country,” with the expressed goal “to shape public attitude and is not about legal substance.”

The report cites Yerushalmi’s own framing of the issue in a New York Times 2011 interview: “If this thing passed in every state without any friction, it would not have served its purpose…The purpose was to get people asking this question, ‘What is Shariah?’”

What we have in the anti-Sharia legislation and targeting Democratic and civil-society leaders is an electoral strategy that seeks to monetize Islamophobia into votes at the ballot box and o influence elections outcome moving forward.

Attempts to influence elections with Islamophobic content were front and center in the 2008 elections, when the Clarion Fund spent about $17 million to send 28 million copies of the documentary “Obsession, Radical Islam’s War Against the West” as an insert in Sunday newspapers, just days before the elections, to voters in swing states; this propagated the idea that Candidate Obama should not be trusted, and the constant speculation that he is a closet Muslim.

A similar strategy was unleashed in the 2010 midterm elections, focusing on the “Ground Zero Mosque,” a term coined by the Islamophobia network and then amplified through the conservative media.

Wedge issues are very critical pieces in campaign strategists’ tool chest. Islamophobia and targeting American Muslims create the needed framing, focusing on national security and threat to the “homeland,” which puts liberal Democrats on the defensive while pushing independent voters into supporting rightwing Republican candidates even though it might be against their economic and political interests.

The Islamophobia network agenda in the U.S. is connected to a broader electoral strategy. “Demographics in the United States are changing rapidly” was an important reason for some on the political right to opt for a divisive strategy, write Prof. Saeed A. Khan and Alejandrop J. Beutel in their recently released report, “Manufacturing Bigotry: A State-by-State Legislative Effort to Pushback Against 2050 by Targeting Muslims and Other Minorities,” published by The Institute of Social Policy and Understanding.

Hatem Bazian is a senior lecturer of Near Eastern studies and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley.

Bay Area

Ready to Travel? Get the REAL ID!  

The California DMV suggests changing your driver’s license or identification card to a REAL ID as federal laws will soon make it necessary to have either a passport, REAL ID, or other federally accepted forms of ID to board local flights and enter federal buildings.

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DMV Administrator Carrie Stanton. Photo courtesy of the author.
DMV Administrator Carrie Stanton. Photo courtesy of the author.

By Carrie Stanton, Regional Administrator (Region 2, Bay Area) of the California Department of Motor Vehicles

The holidays are here and families are excited to get together and celebrate for the first time in over a year. Amid the pandemic, we’ve missed far too many Sunday and holiday dinners that have been a tradition for many families for generations.

For our community, family dinner is about creating memories. For those families who will be traveling this holiday season, I encourage you to consider adding a REAL ID upgrade to your checklist when making your travel plans.

The California DMV suggests changing your driver’s license or identification card to a REAL ID as federal laws will soon make it necessary to have either a passport, REAL ID, or other federally accepted forms of ID to board local flights and enter federal buildings.

While getting a REAL ID isn’t required, it does make it easier to continue using your driver’s license to board a local flight or visit loved ones on military bases. To help make this change, the California DMV is offering free upgrades to people who renewed their license or ID card between March 2020 and July 2021 from now until Dec. 31, 2021.

Protecting the health, safety and security of our communities is what’s important and the REAL ID provides an extra layer of protection when traveling. Applying is easy and can be started safely online at CaliforniaREALID.org. Complete your application, upload the required forms, and plan your DMV office visit to finish. Don’t forget your documents and confirmation code– they will be needed for your visit.

Whether you are applying for a first-time California driver’s license or identification card or are up for renewal, a REAL ID may be the best option, especially if you plan to travel soon. Get back to creating those memories with your family. With shorter wait periods and an easy application process, now is the perfect time to start your REAL ID application so you’re ready to go when the time is right.

As we continue to recover from the pandemic, many things in our lives are changing. In our community, many have started businesses, changed their lifestyles for the better and found new passions in life. Whatever is helping you get through these rough times is also playing a part in figuring out our new normal. Make the REAL ID part of that new normal.

Carrie Stanton is Regional Administrator (Region 2, Bay Area) of the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

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Bay Area

San Francisco Declares Water Shortage Emergency in Response to Statewide Drought

The average San Franciscan uses 42 gallons of water per day at home—one of the lowest rates in California and less than half of the statewide average of about 90 gallons per person per day. In April, the SFPUC called upon its 1,600 irrigation customers and City departments to reduce water use and asked all customers to reduce water waste, which helped lead to an overall reduction of water use in San Francisco through November 2021.

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With the declaration of the emergency water shortage, the City is poised to launch a water conservation public awareness campaign that will include the SFPUC’s outreach channels and strategically targeted paid media advertising.
With the declaration of the emergency water shortage, the City is poised to launch a water conservation public awareness campaign that will include the SFPUC’s outreach channels and strategically targeted paid media advertising.

Voluntary action calls for 10% reduction in water usage system-wide

From S.F. Mayor’s Office

Mayor London N. Breed and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) last week  declared a water shortage emergency and approved measures aimed at further conserving and reducing water usage across the SFPUC’s service territory in response to exceptionally dry weather conditions that have affected the entire state over the past two years.

As a result of the emergency measure, which the SFPUC unanimously approved, San Francisco has declared a 10% reduction in water usage across its regional system.

The 10% reduction will be compared to water use from July 2019 to June 2020 and will be applied to all of the SFPUC’s 2.7 million customers, which include customers in San Francisco, Alameda, Santa Clara, and San Mateo counties. The call for voluntary water reduction will go into effect immediately.

“With California still experiencing devastating drought and the uncertainty around this rainy season, we need to make tough decisions that will ensure that our water source continues to be reliable and dependable for the future,” said Breed.

“Year after year, San Franciscans step up to conserve our most precious resource, resulting in one of the lowest water usage rates in California, and during this critical time, I know that our City will once again meet the call to reduce water use,” she said. “I applaud the SFPUC Commission for declaring a water shortage emergency and urging our customers to be mindful of their water usage.

“We are in a drought with far-reaching consequences, and it has become clear we all need to do even more to address it,” SFPUC General Manager Dennis Herrera said. “San Franciscans have been doing their part and have some of the lowest water usage in the state. This emergency water shortage declaration will help all of our customers pull together and move in the same direction. We know we can rely on each other. I’m confident that everyone will do their part so we can all get through this.”

With the declaration of the emergency water shortage, the City is poised to launch a water conservation public awareness campaign that will include the SFPUC’s outreach channels and strategically targeted paid media advertising.

The messages will be conveyed in multiple languages and will include tips and resources on actions that customers can take to reduce their water usage to help achieve the 10% reduction system-wide, such as fixing leaky toilets, installing low-flow fixtures, reducing outdoor irrigation, and receiving water usage audits from SFPUC professionals.

The average San Franciscan uses 42 gallons of water per day at home—one of the lowest rates in California and less than half of the statewide average of about 90 gallons per person per day. In April, the SFPUC called upon its 1,600 irrigation customers and City departments to reduce water use and asked all customers to reduce water waste, which helped lead to an overall reduction of water use in San Francisco through November 2021.

However, with the state continuing to experience extremely dry weather overall, the SFPUC is expanding on those efforts by declaring a water shortage emergency, which will help the agency access water reserves and resources available only during emergencies.

The SFPUC has about 360,000 acre-feet of reserve water in its water bank. An acre-foot is enough water for about two California households annually on average.

However, the State Water Board’s curtailment orders, emergency regulations issued in August 2021 that restrict diversions from the Tuolumne River watershed, effectively prevent the SFPUC from accessing that water bank.

Due to the Water Board’s curtailment orders, the SFPUC and its retail and wholesale customers are less prepared to address drought conditions moving forward.

“We need everyone to take action to preserve and stretch our limited water supplies,” SFPUC Commission President Anson Moran said. “San Franciscans and our wholesale customers have been doing a good job when it comes to being efficient with their water use. We can all do better. We look forward to working with all of our customers to further reduce water use.”

Declaring a water shortage emergency carries with it the requirement that the SFPUC institute a temporary drought surcharge for retail water and wastewater customers of up to 5% on part of their bill.

The SFPUC Commission voted to introduce the surcharge on April 1, 2022. The effect on the average residential customer’s bill is estimated to be a little over $6 per month if they made no reductions to their water use. The temporary drought surcharge will automatically end when the SFPUC Commission rescinds the water shortage emergency declaration.

Earlier this year, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a Drought Emergency for 50 of the 58 counties in California and called on all Californians to voluntarily reduce water use by 15%. The state’s ongoing drought has increased the significance of water reuse, recycling, and conservation programs, measures SFPUC has long championed.

More information is available at www.sfpuc.org/savewater.

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Bay Area

Get Booster Shot, Celebrate Thanksgiving Holiday Safely, State Officials Say

Officials are encouraging people who took both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago to get their boosters now. People who took the one-shot Johnson & Johnson primary dose at least two months ago, should also schedule their booster shot.

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According to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, the booster shots are being administered under an “emergency use authorization.”
According to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, the booster shots are being administered under an “emergency use authorization.”

By Aldon Thomas Stiles, California Black Media

Golden State public health officials are recommending that Californians take COVID-19 booster shots to prevent a resurgence of the disease and to celebrate the holidays safely with their loved ones.

“It’s not too late to get it,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Department, referring to the COVID-19 booster shot. He was speaking at a vaccine clinic in Los Angeles County last week.

“Get that added protection for the Thanksgiving gatherings you may attend,” he said.

Last week, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine boosters for all adults in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) followed with an endorsement of the booster vaccine, recommending it for people over age 50, and anyone 18 and older who is at higher risk.

The CDC loosened the language for all other adults, saying anyone over age 18 “may” take the shot.

California officials say the booster shots are plenty and available throughout the state.

“If you think you will benefit from getting a booster shot, I encourage you,” said Ghaly. “Supplies are available. There are many sites across the state – thousands in fact.”

On Saturday, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup completed a separate review of the federal government’s approval process for the booster shots and also recommended that “individuals 18 or older who have completed their primary vaccination series,” take the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna boosters.

California, Oregon, Nevada and Washington state came together last year and created the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup. The group, made up of scientists, medical professionals and public health experts, is charged with reviewing COVID-19 vaccine safety.

Over the last two weeks, COVID-19 infections across the United States have increased at a rate of nearly 33%, according to the CDC.

Officials are encouraging people who took both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago to get their boosters now. People who took the one-shot Johnson & Johnson primary dose at least two months ago, should also schedule their booster shot.

“COVID-19 boosters are available to all Californians 18 [and over]! Walk-in clinics are open statewide with no appointment necessary – like this mobile clinic in Avenal. Find a clinic or pharmacy near you and get yours today,” Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office chimed in on Twitter.

Newsom has pushed hard for the vaccine booster since he received his last month.

“Great news for the rest of the country. The holidays are here — make sure to keep your immunity up and protect yourself and your loved ones. Get your booster,” Newsom tweeted on November 18.

According to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, the booster shots are being administered under an “emergency use authorization.”

California Black Media’s coverage of COVID-19 is supported by the California Health Care Foundation.

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