Ann Corcoran is a blogger who says “your tax dollars” are being used to promote “Muslim colonization” in the form of refugee resettlement in the United States. Breitbart headlines notwithstanding, she is no expert. And some of the biggest names in organized racism and Islamophobia have been throwing more and more praise her way.
All of these qualities made her the perfect, if unsurprising, choice to address anti-Muslim grassroots activists last week and school them on how to incorporate anti-refugee activism into their work.
ACT! for America, the largest and most active anti-Muslim group in the United States, convened in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 8 and 9 for its annual conference. In addition to the group’s usual “national security” agenda, organizers made the issue of refugee resettlement — particularly Muslim refugee resettlement — a high priority at this year’s meeting. Corcoran did little to conceal her apparent disdain for Muslim refugees, telling audience members efforts to block refugees is akin to “a battle to save Western civilization.”
Corcoran did little to conceal her apparent disdain for Muslim refugees, telling audience members efforts to block refugees is akin to “a battle to save Western civilization.”
Corcoran has become increasingly popular among far-right circles including white nationalists, as noted by the Southern Poverty Law Center. She also works closely with other notorious anti-Muslim figureheads like Frank Gaffney. In fact, Gaffney’s organization the Center for Security Policy recently published a monograph of Corcoran’s where she claims Muslim immigration and refugee resettlement programs are part of a greater plot to “colonize” the U.S. and turn it into a Shariah-adherent nation.
During the conference, speaking to the highly publicized arrival of refugees to Europe, Corcoran said, “And I will tell you, it’s not just Europe’s problem. It’s our problem.”
Indeed, the U.S. government announced it would take in at least 10,000 Syrian refugees this year, a small number compared to the estimated 4 million who have fled their home country. But the refugees’ race and religious practices—rather than the numbers—appear to be one of the driving force behind Corcoran’s anti-refugee sentiment.
“We are not saving the Syrian Christians,” Corcoran lamented, repeating a false claim that refugee resettlement agencies are explicitly excluding Christian refugees. In fact, leading resettlement agencies have specifically called attention to the needs of Syrian religious minorities, including Christians.
Corcoran’s opposition to Muslim refugees is in line with other activists who make nativist claims that immigrants and changing demographics pose a threat to the dominant culture (read: the white majority).
“The migration issue is the most serious threat to America because once they have the numbers, we’re done,” Corcoran said.
At this year’s ACT! for America conference, Corcoran appears to have found a sympathetic audience eager join in perpetuating fear of Muslims. Gabriel underscored this success, stating that her group is “going to work with Ann” and organize ACT! chapters to push back against refugee resettlement policies.
Anti-refugee sentiment heads to Capitol Hill
Per usual for its conference, ACT! held a legislative briefing on Capitol Hill where attendees had the opportunity to hear from and mingle with Congress’ Republican hardliners. Relative newcomer Rep. Brian Babin was on the scene.
Babin is the sponsor of HB 3314, otherwise known as the Resettlement Accountability National Security Act of 2015. The bill calls to “suspend the admission into the United States of refugees in order to examine the costs of providing benefits to such individuals, and for other purposes.”
Babin urged ACT! members to lobby their federal lawmakers to co-sponsor the bill. He also noted that he is seeking a lawmaker to introduce a companion bill in the Senate.
“We should not be importing the problems of the Middle East into America,” he told the crowd.
Amid all of this chaos, it can be easy to forget that for many refugees, resettlement is a matter of life and death.
ACT!’s founder and president Brigitte Gabriel told conference attendees that passing HB 3314 is one of ACT!’s top priorities.
Babin was not the only lawmaker at the briefing ready to advance ACT!’s anti-refugee agenda. In a screed about deporting undocumented immigrants, Rep. Marsha Blackburn announced she would be launching an investigation into the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Additionally, Rep. Jeff Duncan claimed Europe is currently experiencing an “invasion of Arabs.”
Amid all of this chaos, it can be easy to forget that for many refugees, resettlement is a matter of life and death. They are fleeing their homes in an attempt to survive. Despite what Gov. Mike Huckabee any other cynical politicians may say, they are not merely seeking “cable TV.” Refugees have been displaced from their homes for a number of reasons, including seemingly endless wars and almost unimaginable oppression. Many refugees who flee do not survive.
Though ACT!’s bigotry is rarely surprising, it is appalling that ACT! and its Congressional allies continue to attempt to block humanitarian, life-saving work.