By Annysa Johnson of the Journal Sentinel
A Milwaukee foundation that has donated more than $300 million to conservative causes over the last decade is accused of promoting Islamophobia in a report released this week by a the nation's largest Islamic civil rights group.
In "Legislating Fear: Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States," the New York-based* Council on American-Islamic Relations includes the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation among a list of donors that it says finance a vast network of individuals and organizations that spread prejudice against or hatred of Muslims.
"There's no doubt that there is a small minority (of Muslims) that are twisting my faith and using it to justify violence. But the Islamophobic network says, no, that's all Muslims," said council spokesman Corey Saylor. "They think Muslims are here to dominate, to subvert the constitution, and that's what they're going around the country teaching people."
Bradley Foundation President Michael Grebe acknowledged that it funds some organizations that are critical of radical Islam.
[Saylor note: According to the Foundation’s 2012 Annual Report, it gave $60,000 to the Center for Security Policy $25,000 to Middle East Forum, and $225,000 to David Horowitz Freedom Center that year. Center for Security Policy counsel David Yerushalmi has said, “Muslim civilization is at war with Judeo-Christian civilization.” Middle East Forum head Daniel Pipes. In 1990 Middle East Forum head Daniel Pipes asserted: "Western European societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene...All immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most." In Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the Radical Left, Freedom Center founder David Horowitz said that both Muslims and progressives abhor America and American values.” Given that these are sweeping indictments of the entire Islamic faith, it is troubling that the Bradley Foundation finds such organizations simply “critical."]
"But we don't promote...Islamophobia, and indeed we provide grants to a number of groups that would be described as moderate Muslims," he said.
[Saylor note: In my mind even if they funded CAIR that would not let them off the hook. For example, if a group funds white supremacists they cannot wave off criticism because they fund the NAACP as well. In my book, donating to inner core groups should be as socially acceptable as funding white supremacists or anti-Semites.]
The Council's report lists an "inner core" of 37 organizations and individuals whose primary purpose it says is to foment hate toward Muslims. The Bradley Foundation appears in the "outer core," a list of 32 groups that do not share that primary focus, but whose work "regularly demonstrates or supports Islamophobic themes."
Among the report's findings:
* Nearly $120 million flowed to anti-Muslim groups, including three funded by the Bradley Foundation, between 2008 and 2011.
* Anti-Muslim rhetoric and stereotypes pervade every aspect of society, from government and law enforcement organizations to religious communities.
* There were 51 recorded anti-mosque acts in 2011 and 2012, including two spikes — one after the killing of Osama Bin Laden and another after the massacre at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek.
The study provides little detail about the outer core organizations, and the Council said that would come in a subsequent report. But Saylor pointed to a 2011 report bythe Center for American Progress, which called the Bradley Foundation one of the top seven organizations financing Islamophobia.
According to that report, the Bradley Foundation awarded $4.2 million to the David Horowitz Freedom Center, $815,000 to Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy and $305,000 to Daniel Pipes' Middle East Forum over the years.
Islamic Society of Milwaukee President Ahmed Quereshi, who said he was surprised by the Bradley connection, called the trio some of the most notorious Islamophobes. Wisconsin members of two groups mentioned in the report — ACT! for America and the Eagle Forum — voiced opposition to a Brookfield mosque that is now under construction. Quereshi said he would be speaking with others in the Muslim community about reaching out to the foundation.
Grebe provided a list of organizations the Bradley Foundation has funded that he said promote pluralism and moderate Islam. Among them: American Islamic Congress' Project Nur, which it says promotes civic leadership among Muslim-American students; and the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies. None of the other organizations appears in the Council's report.
*CAIR’s headquarters in in Washington, D.C., but we have a great chapter in New York.