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Wednesday, October 18, 2017
MRC Still Pretending Anti-Muslim Group Isn't Anti-Muslim
Topic: Media Research Center

We've noted how the Media Research Center has defended right-wing anti-Muslim group ACT for America against charges that it's, well, anti-Muslim. It did so again in an Oct. 5 post by Corrine Weaver:

The Southern Poverty Law Center is at it again -- spreading hate against people it disagrees with.

This time, the SPLC targeted ACT for America during ACT’s seventh annual national conference. The assault triggered a response among liberals eager to prove their fidelity to SPLC’s intolerant agenda of hate. The SPLC attacked ACT as the “largest anti-Muslim organization in the U.S.,” and criticized Marriott hotels for hosting the conference. It also claimed Media Research Center president Brent Bozell was a person “better known for bashing LBGT persons.”

ACT for America isn’t what the SPLC pretends. It’s a “national security grassroots organization,” that has more than 750,000 members and 12,000 activists who help to “educate, engage, and mobilize citizens and elected officials to impact legislative outcomes to protect America.” The group, founded by Brigitte Gabriel, focuses on radical Islamic terrorism. However, the SPLC has translated this mission to mean “anti-Muslim,” even though a practicing Muslim spoke at ACT’s 2016 conference.

Founder Brigitte Gabriel defended ACT in a written statement to Newsbusters, “Our members include Jews, Christians, Muslims, Atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, gays and Lesbians indeed people from all backgrounds coming together to ensure America stays a safe and free country. The speaker right after Brent was an Ex-Muslim from the Palestinian territory. The man who read his introduction was a gay guy that works for us who organized ‘The Deplorable Inaugural Ball’ and had worked on the Trump campaign. He is our lead activism strategist.”

How funny that the extent of Weaver's "research" on whether ACT! for America hates Muslims is peruse its website and talk to its leader to get quotes denying. She also doesn't bother to examine the evidencethe SPLC uses to identify Gabriel's group as anti-Muslim, such as her various Islamophobic rantings.

Weaver also fails to mention ACT for America's ties to white nationalism, which the SPLC has also pointed out. She also didn't mention one other reason she's rushing to Gabriel's defense: She'll be a guest on the MRC's cruise to Alaska next year.

Instead, Weaver was merely content to engage in some lazy SPLC-bashing, rehashing the usual right-wing attack lines.

Weaver isn't the only MRC employee who got marching orders to defend Gabriel and her group. managing editor Michael W. Chapman ranted in an Oct. 13 "news" article:

Left-wing activists and Muslim advocates are trying to besmirch and silence the mainstream national security group ACT for America, labeling the organization an "anti-Muslim hate group," protesting against its conferences and rallies, and urging lawmakers to condemn them, according to documents from the activists and remarks made by ACT for America President Brigitte Gabriel. 

"We are the NRA of national security," Gabriel, a Lebanese-American, told "We want to empower citizens to become active in their community.... We want to make sure America preserves its identity, its traditions, its Constitution, its American values, including especially the protection of freedom of speech -- preserve America in the way our Founding Fathers envisioned it.”

As Weaver did, Chapman lazily takes Gabriel at her word that ACT for America isn't anti-Muslim -- and uncritically repeats her assertion that any criticism of her group might as well be coming from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a longtime bogeyman for conservatives -- and refuses to examine the particulars of the SPLC's case against it.

Chapman is rather desperate to paint ACT for America as "mainstream," using the word in the headline of his article as well as the lead paragraph. Perhaps that's an attempt at cover for the MRC to justify inviting Gabriel on its cruise (which Chapman, like Weaver, neglects to mention).

Interestingly, at  no point in either article -- despite both Weaver and Chapman serving as pro-Gabriel stenographers -- does Gabriel offer any definitive evidence that would disprove the claim that ACT for America is anti-Muslim.

Both Gabriel and the MRC seem to think that hurling enough empty words at critics are enough to dispel criticism.

UPDATE: While we were writing the above, the MRC posted another item on Gabriel, an interview with her at the Values Voter Summit in which Katie Yoder lets her rant at length against the SPLC's designation of her group. Again, no refutation of the claim ACT for America is anti-Muslim, no mention of the evidence the SPLC used to make its claim, and no disclosure that Gabriel is a guest on an MRC cruise.

Posted by Terry K. at 5:17 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 5:22 PM EDT

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