Summary: The Council on American-Islamic Relations has a history fraught with questionable associations and dubious claims related to Islam and terrorism. In its latest report, CAIR targets numerous nonprofit groups and grantmakers for “funding hate.” But these so-called “Islamophobic” groups are not hate groups at all—unless you use the definition of “hate” promoted by the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center. This careful analysis of CAIR’s report will debunk many of the organization’s central arguments.
What Is Islamophobia?
CAIR doesn’t exactly say. That is actually understandable, because it allows them to leave it open to broad interpretation. One of their supporters was honest enough to define the term in a Facebook post (which incidentally escaped the notice of Facebook’s censors, unlike some posts critical of Islam). Here’s a screen shot of the post:
This fairly exhaustive list includes words that the terrorists themselves use to describe their own actions. According to his bio, Esam Omeish is “chief of General and Laparoscopic Surgery” at INOVA Alexandria, Virginia, hospital. He is a former leader of the Muslim Students Association and the Muslim American Society—both prominent Muslim Brotherhood groups. He is also a founding board member of the Dar al Hijra mosque in Falls Church, VA. Omeish is also director of the Washington Trust Foundation, a holding company for over $5 million in real estate owned by CAIR, which describes its mission as “to support the charitable purposes of the CAIR Foundation.” Would it be “Islamophobic” to call this a conflict of interest?
It must be added that Omeish’s definition parallels that found in U.N. Resolution 16/18, Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons based on religion or belief. The U.N. signed 16/18 in 2011, the result of a decades long effort by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)—comprised of 56 nations and the Palestinian Territories, the second largest intergovernmental organization in the world—to enact blasphemy laws through the U.N. According to 16/18, not only can you not criticize any aspect of Islam, but to do so is tantamount to “incitement to violence.” Hillary Clinton supported 16/18, as did President Barack Obama.
Committing Fraud with Numbers
CAIR ominously claims there is a vast, “dark” network of foundations funding what it calls the “Islamophobia network.” They include talented scholars and passionate advocates. To make their case CAIR—again, with the SPLC’s help—claims to crunch numbers from nonprofit tax returns of all the groups in this supposed “Islamophobia Network.”
CAIR claims that six particularly nefarious individuals, Daniel Pipes of Middle East Forum, Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, Brigitte Gabriel of ACT for America, David Yerushalmi of the American Freedom Law Center, David Horowitz of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and Pam Geller of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, have received $125 million from various funders.
CAIR adds that the financial support comes from a web of so-called “dark money” foundations, many of which, ominously, do not disclose their donors. (It is worth noting that there is no legal requirement for these nonprofits to do so, and CAIR similarly does not disclose its funding sources.)
CAIR goes out of its way to make it difficult to fact check its own report. First, CAIR names the people identified as so-called “Islamophobes” in this chart, not the organizations receiving the amounts of revenue later tallied. So you have to root around the report’s small print to get to the truth. This is intentional. You first have to identify the organizations represented by the individuals named, and then you must find the IRS tax returns showing income the groups received. CAIR does not cite or provide links to the tax returns that supposedly prove their assertions anywhere in the document. All readers should demand to know whether CAIR used verified publicly available documents or just made the whole thing up?
The report’s authors assume most readers will likely accept CAIR’s assertions and move on. While non-profit tax returns (filed on IRS Form 990 Return of Income Exempt from Taxation) are publicly available, not many Americans know where to find them or how to read them to perform a basic fact-check—nor do they have the time.
The following is a table listing revenue and assets of those six “Islamophobe” organizations from their most recent tax returns. (Because all IRS Form 990 returns are often filed as much as two years after the end of the organization’s fiscal year, and organizations use different fiscal years, these filings are for 2016 or 2017, whatever is most recently available):
|CAIR’s $125 Million Islamophobia Network|
|ACT for America||$128,631||$1,053,938|
|American Freedom Defense Initiative||$405,658||$516,119|
|American Freedom Law Center||$1,276,078||$530,871|
|Center for Security Policy||$6,548,493||$1,967,835|
|David Horowitz Freedom Center||$5,976,459||$650,572|
|Middle East Forum||$4,361,751||$5,463,633|
Obviously, this does not add up to $125 million. CAIR would have to add over 7 years of income from all these groups combined to arrive at that $125 million figure. Adding up three years of receipts for these groups—as CAIR has done elsewhere in the report—yields $55.5 million, not even half of $125 million. So how did CAIR arrive at $125 million? They don’t explain.
Putting the SPLC/CAIR analysis side-by-side with the actual publicly available documents thoroughly debunks this claim. But more analysis shows how utterly absurd it is.
Consider, for example, that the SPLC’s “hate list” treats each of ACT for America’s 500-odd nationwide chapters as a single standalone entity. These are all volunteer groups that receive no money at all. If ACT took its annual income of $128,631 and distributed it evenly to the local chapters they would receive about $257 each.
But the report also singles out the leaders of these organizations in this section, rather than the organizations for a second reason. It is a deliberate, premeditated effort to target those people in an ongoing effort to destroy their reputations, discourage funders, and as an object lesson to scare less brave souls who might otherwise be inclined to speak out or help out. As we have seen with other instances of SPLC-inspired violence and the emergence of the fascist Antifa, these people and their families’ very lives can be threatened.
In the next section, learn how CAIR uses “Islamophobia” to avoid criticism and smear ideological opponents.