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Terrified: How Anti-Muslim Fringe
Organizations Became Mainstream
Chris Bail, Cambridge University Press, 2015
Presented b...
How CSOs Create Cultural Change
- How societies settle into a new status quo after major crises such as 9/11 attacks
- Evo...
Civil Society Organizations “talking” on Islam in the U.S.
- 120 heterogenous orgs identified struggle to shape shared und...
Data and Methods
- To measure organizations’ media influence
- A plagiarism SW was run on 50K+ documents produced by...
- ...
Islamic CSOs in Early American History
- Muslim Americans: an invisible minority before 9/11
- Integral part of African Am...
More recently (cont’d)
- 3 of the largest CSOs born in 80s: ISNA, AAI, MPAC (Muslim Public Affairs
Council)
- Tension betw...
Picture right after the attacks
Media Influence
- Sensationalism of media
- CSOs displaying fear/anger have 10x influence
- Mainstream Muslim CSOs dispass...
More on the Fringe...
- Funding the fringe
- 7 most prominent anti-Muslim orgs
- 5x donations received
- $19M: Donors Capi...
Anti-Muslim Organizations on Policy Process
- Casting mainstream Muslim organizations as radicals
- Hamas classified as a ...
Public Understanding
- The struggle to shape American
public attitudes toward Islam
- Percentage of Americans expressing
u...
Public Understanding
- Social Media
- Facebook Activity: # of fans, clicks, likes, shares of posts per day
- Twitter: Perc...
Public Understanding
- Anti-mosque activity
- Violent attacks and peaceful collective action to prevent the construction/e...
Lessons Learned
- How CSOs create cultural change: Not by elaborating upon preexisting beliefs
- But by gaining the power ...
Lessons Learned (cont’d)
- Beyond the media and policy process: Any effect on public discourse of Islam?
- Data from Faceb...
Questions & Comments
- Thank you !
- Talha Oz, @tozCSS
- Computational Social Science at George Mason University
- My shor...
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Terrified

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How Anti-Muslim Fringe Organizations Became Mainstream by Chris Bail, Cambridge University Press, 2015

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Terrified

  1. 1. Terrified: How Anti-Muslim Fringe Organizations Became Mainstream Chris Bail, Cambridge University Press, 2015 Presented by Talha Oz Computational Social Science at George Mason University, 2016
  2. 2. How CSOs Create Cultural Change - How societies settle into a new status quo after major crises such as 9/11 attacks - Evolutionary theory of collective behavior and cultural change - “Cultural environment” that heterogeneous CSOs inhabit & competing to shape > Mainstream/Fringe - The argument - Fringe organizations exploit the emotional bias of the media - This creates the misperception that such groups have substantial support - Mainstream organizations then angrily denounce the fringe, which only increase their profile/visibility - From this privileged position, these once obscure CSOs attack the legitimacy of the mainstream - Data - Surveys, press releases, newspaper articles, television transcripts, qualitative interviews, Twitter posts, Facebook pages, IRS filings, and legislative texts - Methods - Social network theory (clustering/MDS/visualization), text mining (plagiarism & sentiment analysis), regression models, in-depth interviews
  3. 3. Civil Society Organizations “talking” on Islam in the U.S. - 120 heterogenous orgs identified struggle to shape shared understanding of Islam - Social movement orgs, advocacy groups, think tanks, religious orgs, interest groups, voluntary orgs, political action committees, philanthropic foundations, academic institutes, etc. - Mainstream: CAIR, ISNA, MPAC, AMA, AMC, as well as non-Muslim such as the World Council of Churches, the World Jewish Congress, and the Interfaith Conference on Metropolitan Washington - Fringe: Steven Emerson, The Investigative Project (TIP); Daniel Pipes, the Middle East Forum (MEF); Frank Gaffney, the Center for Security Policy (CSP); David Yerushalmi, the Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE); and Brigitte Gabriel, ACT! for America - 1084 press releases produced by these CSOs after 9/11 [coded manually] - Muslims as victims: politically motivated violence groups inspired by apocryphal interpretations - Muslims as enemies: all Muslims are potentially violent radicals who have a religious obligation - Battle for the hearts and minds: enlist moderate Muslims to root-out the extremists - Blurring: Muslims should not be judged by their religion, but on other components of identities - Muslim empowerment: Islam is inherently opposed to violence
  4. 4. Data and Methods - To measure organizations’ media influence - A plagiarism SW was run on 50K+ documents produced by... - 3 TV channels: CBS (liberal), CNN (centrist), Fox News (conservative) - 3 newspapers: NYT (liberal), USA Today (centrist), Washington Times (conservative) - Yielded # of words reproduced or paraphrased between the press releases and the media coverage - Measuring Fear and Anger / Negative emotions - Qualitative coding and text analysis (LIWC) [revised by videos of press conferences] - Organizational networks - # of board members shared via nonprofit tax forms - Policy process - Archival analysis of legislative debates, major government policy reports on domestic counterterrorism policy, and classified documents used on trainings of federal and local counterterrorism officials - Public effect - Sentiment and activity/popularity analysis on data collected from social media (Twitter & Facebook)
  5. 5. Islamic CSOs in Early American History - Muslim Americans: an invisible minority before 9/11 - Integral part of African American resistance to slavery - 1913: Moorish Science Temple (founder: discovered lost section of Quran & a 2nd Mecca in Chicago) - 1930: Nation of Islam (disbanded by Warith Deen, son of Elijah Muhammad, in 1975) - Muslim immigrants - 1906 Ottoman Immigrants >> 1st big CSO: Khaivat al-Ummah by Bosnians in suburban Chicago - 1965 Immigration Act >> Muslim Student Association - 1972 Munich Olympics (Operation Boulder), 1978 Iran revolution,1983 Lebanon killing (299 American & French servicemen), hijacked flight w/ 153 passengers for two weeks (Athens to Rome) >> National Association of Arab Americans (1972) and American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Com (AAADC) - Jewish civil society organizations - 1899: American Jewish organizations became so numerous that a survey created to keep track of - Jewish CSOs were so successful at public outreach that later some Muslim CSOs modeled ADL - 1948 Arab-Israeli War: from anti-Semitism >> to nascent Israeli state (in the 50s and 60s): AIPAC
  6. 6. More recently (cont’d) - 3 of the largest CSOs born in 80s: ISNA, AAI, MPAC (Muslim Public Affairs Council) - Tension between Jewish CSOs and Muslim CSOs - 1985: Jewish Defense League bombed AAADC, Boston & killed its chairman - Early 1990s: ADL agreed to pay $200K to AAADC to settle out of court (on undermining civil rights) - 90s: while NOI published an anti-Semitic polemic, WD founded American Society for Muslims - Foreign policy concerns of the Cold War replaced by conflicts in Muslim countries - Military interventions to Kuwait, Iraq, Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Sudan - 1998: al-Qaeda killed 200+ & injured 5K+ in bomb attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania - 2000: USS Cole bombing (outside Yemen) killed 17, injured 39. - Unprecedented -though modest- influence in American politics - 90s: AMC (Council), AMA (Alliance), CAIR (Islamic Relations) born & along w/ ISNA, MPAC, Muslim community arranged two political action committees (umbrella CSOs): AMPCC & AMC (Committee) - first Muslim chaplain in the military, first Muslim governor, first invocation in Senate by a Muslim
  7. 7. Picture right after the attacks
  8. 8. Media Influence - Sensationalism of media - CSOs displaying fear/anger have 10x influence - Mainstream Muslim CSOs dispassionate response - Cause: “West’s support of dictators who repressed Islam...” - “We don’t call the IRA ‘Catholic’ terrorism; so why should we...” - Careful language to condemn terrorism x Angry to anti-Muslim - Fringe Anti-Muslim organizations emotional response - Provoke passionate responses from the mainstream - Shape the conversations (let others internalize the criticisms) - Shared fear/anger bring groups together - Network grew: ADL, Freedom House, Heritage F., Hudson I. … - Produced 10,16,40 anti-Muslim messages per studied period
  9. 9. More on the Fringe... - Funding the fringe - 7 most prominent anti-Muslim orgs - 5x donations received - $19M: Donors Capital F. (AEI, HF) - Scaife ($6M), Bradley, Becker F., … - Money >> Terrorism/Islam Expertise - Vacuum of expertise - Recruit pundits from Arab backgrounds - Exploiting tensions within the mainstream - Middle East Media Research Institute - Ads, movies, documentaries, websites
  10. 10. Anti-Muslim Organizations on Policy Process - Casting mainstream Muslim organizations as radicals - Hamas classified as a terrorist org after 9/11. Gov’t sued HLF’s zakats as supporting terrorism - Also a so-called Muslim Brotherhood memo was used to link dozens of CSOs to terrorism - Marginalizing mainstream Muslims from the policy process - 2004 Madrid & 2005 London bombings >> Homegrown terrorism, radicalization of Muslim-Americans - 2 Congressional + 9 Senate hearings + 2007 DHS report >> No mainstream Muslim CSO invited at all - Barack Hussein Obama: The 2008 Election - RJC accused of conducting a “push-poll”; Obama’s birth/religion; Romney: no Muslim be in my cabinet - Local politics and the growth of anti-sharia legislation - ‘10-’12: anti-Shari’ah legislation passed in 7/32 states (despite the 1925 Federal Arbitration Act) - Training counter-terrorism agents - FBIxACLU: Outreach program >> Trojan horse; NYPD (MACLC) report and surveillance/“bait” - Freedom of Information Act (ACLU) >> FBI agents training PPT had 124 references to anti-Muslim - Air Force Academy lecture + documentary: 1489 NYPD officers << $1.67B training in ct in 2010
  11. 11. Public Understanding - The struggle to shape American public attitudes toward Islam - Percentage of Americans expressing unfavor views of Islam is increasing - Inclusive “us” x restrictive “them” - is not merely a matter of rhetoric: transforms the very core of civil society (American public sphere) - from inter-organizational networks to fund-raising patterns, and even political parties
  12. 12. Public Understanding - Social Media - Facebook Activity: # of fans, clicks, likes, shares of posts per day - Twitter: Percentage of organizations’ tweets with positive sentiment
  13. 13. Public Understanding - Anti-mosque activity - Violent attacks and peaceful collective action to prevent the construction/expansion is in increase - Obama (on Park51): “I was not commenting … on the wisdom of … the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding” Sources: American Civil Liberties Union, Pew Research, and the content analysis used in the book
  14. 14. Lessons Learned - How CSOs create cultural change: Not by elaborating upon preexisting beliefs - But by gaining the power to produce a wholly new conventional wisdom about complex subjects - Primacy of event-driven/opportunistic explanations is challenged - 9/11 did not lead to groundswell of anti-Muslim sentiment, to the contrary, American public opinion of Islam became more favorable after the attacks, and most CSOs produced pro-Muslim messages - 9/11 did not create political instability. Bush administration sharply rebuked those w/ anti-Muslim views. Muslim orgs continued to exert influence on US gov (later exiled from the policy process) - How institutional amplification of emotions creates a chain of reactions for CSOs - Frustrated by their inability to gain media attention for their condemnations and concerned about the rise of anti-Muslim orgs within the public sphere, Muslim orgs began angrily denouncing fringe actors - Yet these emotional reactions inadvertently increased the profile of these once obscure actors - How structural resources of CSOs are used to publicize their messages - Create a field of terrorism experts; develop an infrastructure to produce and spread threat messages - Convinced lawmakers; trained federal/local counterterrorism officials w/out having any credentials
  15. 15. Lessons Learned (cont’d) - Beyond the media and policy process: Any effect on public discourse of Islam? - Data from Facebook and Twitter revealed anti-Muslim organizations influence - Role of anti-Muslim organizations in anti-mosque activities in the US - Further studies needed to isolate the causal pathways (of anti-Muslim organizations’ effect on public) - Interpenetration of cultural, structural, and social-psychological factors is studied in the evolution of shared understanding of Islam in the American public sphere - Emotional tenor >> social networks >> financial infrastructure >> consolidation of resources
  16. 16. Questions & Comments - Thank you ! - Talha Oz, @tozCSS - Computational Social Science at George Mason University - My short review of the book: http://talhaoz.com/?p=886 - A great review by Aziz Z. Huq, Professor of Law at the University of Chicago - Another one by Mary-Hunter McDonnell, Wharton School, UPenn

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