This week, Imagine 2050 will be previewing some of the anti-Muslim bigotry expected to be on display at the upcoming ACT for America national conference and legislative briefing in Washington D.C. on September 6 – 7. One of the panels at this year’s conference focuses on “political correctness,” one of the anti-Muslim group’s favorite straw men.
If you hear ACT for America founder and president Brigitte Gabriel speak, there’s one phrase you are almost certain to hear: “It’s time to throw political correctness in the garbage where it belongs.”
Of course, this line is just an attempt to mask what’s next, which is a message full of anti-Muslim bigotry spewed in the name of free speech. Gabriel has repeated this phrase, or some variant, in nearly every speech and media interview she has given in recent years. ACT for America even sells t-shirts that feature the phrase sprawled in bold lettering across the back.
Deriding the concept of political correctness is tactic Gabriel uses to inoculate herself from any accusations of bigotry when it comes to talking about Muslims in the United States. Rather than taking responsibility for their hateful and divisive rhetoric, Gabriel and her supporters instead claim our culture has become too sensitive toward political correctness. When in fact not only does Gabriel use terminology that is offensive toward Muslims, she actively promotes harmful policies that harm Muslims including surveillance and biased law enforcement trainings. And only when political correctness is thrown in the “garbage where it belongs” will Gabriel be free to spout her vile rhetoric without fear of any criticism or consequence.
Anti-P.C. sentiment to be on full display at conference
At ACT for America’s national conference, a session titled “How Political Correctness Has Muzzled the Conversation About Radical Islam” will feature a validator named Raheel Raza, a Toronto-based Muslim activist and writer.
Raza, however, has expressed this criticism via some troubling unabashed anti-Muslim outlets-namely, The Clarion Project. Raza, who sits on the Clarion Project’s advisory board, has appeared in two of the group’s films, 2013’s Honor Diaries and the 2015 short By The Numbers – The Untold Story of Muslim Opinions & Demographics. Other Clarion films have likened Islam to Nazism and have been featured in counter-terrorism training seminars for law enforcement.
After viewing Clarion’s The Third Jihad in a training, one New York City police officer told The Village Voice that the film was “straight propaganda.” The officer continued, “after it was over, I was thinking, ‘What was that?’ It was so ridiculously one-sided. It just made Muslims look like the enemy.”
Raza has also commended Donald Trump’s bigoted anti-Muslim proposals.
“Trump, as politically incorrect as his language may be, has succeeded in sparking an international conversation about radical Islam that we must have now,” Raza wrote in an August 17 op-ed published by USA Today.
In the same op-ed, Raza notes that she in fact proposed a moratorium on Muslim immigration over a year before Trump did.
More of the same from ACT for America and Gabriel
For ACT though, attacks on so-called political correctness frequently serve as a stand-in for thinly veiled bigotry. The group’s Thin Blue Line Project, for instance, was created to combat “suffocating political correctness” but amounts to little more than a call for increased surveillance of Muslim institutions and leaders. The resource, which is designed for law enforcement but open to the public, even publishes the home addresses of some Muslim civic and religious leaders.
Discussions to combat extremism of all forms are needed. But Gabriel and ACT’s diatribes against political correctness does not add anything substantive to the conversation. While many are having constructive dialogues about stemming violence and upholding civil rights, Gabriel is content railing against political correctness, saying things like, a practicing Muslim “cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America” and that “every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim.”
And that’s not combating political correctness with the altruistic goal of keeping people safe. It’s just unabashed bigotry.