Anti-Loons of the Year: 2010
From Molly Norris, one of the Anti-Loons of the Year
We reviewed the Year in Islamophobia, and it was a crazy year. However, we noted that at the end of the day there was “hope.” There were those willing to stand up, take a stand firmly against hate directed towards Muslims and Islam. Here we recount some of the best anti-loons of 2010. There are many more whom we may have omitted and who deserve equal attention and recognition.
Glenn Greenwald published countless articles on Salon.com in which he took to task the complicity of the media in regard to Islamophobia, the double standards that exist when Muslims commit crimes as opposed to when non-Muslims do and the stark difference in coverage. He was outspoken on the root causes of terrorism and the willful neglect and negligence of our government and politicians when it comes to honestly discussing the causes of terrorism, namely — occupation. Greenwald’s colleagues Justin Elliot and Alex Pareene also contributed significantly to the discussion and had great coverage of the tidal wave of Islamophobiapalooza.
The Daily Show brought us plenty of laughs but also penetrating analysis and insight into the state of affairs in America today. Stewart’s mock news show was hailed for bringing more news to us than mainstream media. He was all over the coverage of the Park51 mosque controversy, and even before then he was seminal in covering and satirizing the rhetoric on Fox News, amongst Tea Partiers, as well hate crimes that were rising all over the country. His seminal “Rally to restore Sanity” which he co-hosted with Stephen Colbert was a watershed moment and though its detractors tried to minimize its importance, it frankly eclipsed Glenn Beck’s ghoulish “Rally to restore Honor.” His show also coined the word of the year, “Islamophboiapalooza.”
The Colbert Report is a show that many are in love with, the host’s over the top adulation of himself combined with the incisive satire and biting sarcasm that no doubt turns Bill O’ Reilly and others in the Right-wing into a heaping pile of anger during the weekdays beamed onto our screens and left a residue of warmth and compassion. Colbert was everywhere, Capitol Hill for hearings on immigration, on the Mall for his “Rally to Restore Sanity and or March to Keep Fear Alive.” His commitment to justice led him to take on the pervasive atmosphere of anti-Muslim hysteria and in doing so he contributed to restoring sanity and dispelling fear.
Aslan is the man that Islamophobes love to hate. They can’t stand him. Robert Spencer published dozens of blog posts on him alone. Aslan has been vocal in the mainstream media about the anti-Muslim Islamophobia that swept America in 2010 and its main progenitors. He has delivered speeches, engaged in debates, written articles and books all towards attempting to foster understanding, and his implicit nod to Loonwatch on the Colbert Report was much appreciated.
Max Blumenthal’s pieces on Pamela Geller, SIOA, video footage of rabid anti-Muslim rallies, and coverage of the Great Islamophobic crusade bring him into the spotlight as one of the leading anti-Loons of 2010. Blumenthal is also notable for being one of the first investigative journalists to quote and link to Loonwatch.
Sheriff Lee Baca is a tough as nails LA County Sheriff who went toe-to-toe with a right-wing republican Representative over the politicians attempts to intimidate Muslims and cast Muslim leaders as affiliated with terrorist organizations.
Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) impugned Baca during a House Homeland Security subcommittee meeting, saying the sheriff had allied himself with a Muslim American group that engaged in “radical” speech by going to its fundraisers. Baca not only attacked that description of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, but he also told Souder he would be fine with going to more fundraisers for the group.
“If he thinks I’m afraid of what he said, I will go to 10 fundraisers because he said it,” Baca declared Tuesday afternoon, just a few hours before a town hall meeting with the Muslim American community.
Actually, Baca said, he’s been to only two fundraisers for the organization in four years, but that, he added, is not the point. What rankled Baca — aside from what he took as Souder personally challenging the sheriff’s patriotism — was what he saw as the congressman’s inaccurate assessment of the group.
“In other words, he’s an amateur intelligence officer,” Baca said.
Several times a year, the Muslim American Homeland Security Congress — an independent group set up to advise Baca and forge a partnership between the department and Muslim Americans — and the Sheriff’s Department’s Muslim Community Affairs Unit hold forums to discuss issues. The one Tuesday night was scheduled before the dust-up in Washington offered a charged topic for discussion.
When Baca spoke at the Tuesday event, he was given a standing ovation by the 75 or so people at the Omar ibn Al-Khattab Foundation near USC.
Mayor Bloomberg stood up at a crucial moment during the Park51 (Ground Zero Mosque) controversy and didn’t back down. He gave an impassioned defense of religious liberty and freedom in a historic speech during the firestorm and took a lot of heat for it from people in his party.