On 2 July, Fox and Friends' Eric Bolling hosted a segment with a brief interview of one of our favorite (heh) former Kossacks, Eric Allen Bell (hereafter 'EAB'), in which the two discussed Bell's conversion to Islamophobia during his attempt to make a documentary film addressing the disputes around the construction of the Murfreesboro Mosque. Some Kossacks will recall (with horror and/or mirth) our pseudo-spiritualist EAB's rather spectacular flame-out over the course of four diaries: here (15 January 2012), here (19 January 2012), here (21 January 2012) and here (9 February 2012, post-banning zombie diary). Now don't worry: this present diary isn't as much of a gratuitous piling-on callout of EAB as it may at first appear, though I'll write off any piling-on in the comments as a happy accident! Rather, I'd like to place EAB's conversion in the context of Fear, Inc. [warning: .pdf], the networked industry of Islamophobia. Tips of the hat to Media Matters for the Bolling/EAB interview and to LoonWatch, against whom EAB's rants here were initially directed and who have followed EAB's trajectory as an emergent minor actor (avec delusions of grandeur) within the Islamophobia industry.
To the Islamophobic Eric-on-Eric interview, then. The video is available at Media Matters for the curious, and I've transcribed the segment below:
BOLLING: Now, documentary filmmaker Eric Allen Bell. Thank you for joining us, sir. Tell, uh, you know, I found this extensively dist... this Murfreesboro, Tennessee mosque, it's a big mosque, tell us how it went down. Originally they got approval to build it, they started to build it, then what happened?Now, I can only imagine that Bolling was thrilled with this little exercise, given his own history of simple-minded regurgitation of anti-Arab and Islamophobic sentiments. Let's recall Bolling's statement on the 2 August 2011 episode of FOX Business' Follow the Money concerning Park 51, the so-called Ground Zero Mosque:
EAB: Well, the approval was to build a 53,000 square-foot mega-mosque in a town of 100,000 people with 200 to 300 Muslims only 45 of which are paying members, so we're talking about a multi-million dollar project. There was backlash in the community against it and I thought this would make a great documentary. I also went into it with a bias that this is really just about civil rights and religious freedom, and had pursued that, had shot 300 hours of footage, uh, taking that point of view.
BOLLING: And then, let me get this straight. There was the Michael Moore group, a couple of liberal-leaning groups that, that funded your project. Is that right?
EAB: No, no... I keep hearing that Michael Moore funded my project. Michael Moore did not fund the project. He was very supportive, I wrote for Michael Moore dot com. The funders of the project, I signed a non-disclosure agreement that I can't disclose, but it was not Michael Moore.
BOLLING: OK, so now you're into this filming, you're leaning toward the original thought that these Muslim groups, or the builders of the mosque, were being persecuted, but what happened? What changed your mind?
EAB: You know, I think there's a perceptive disability that a lot of liberals have, which is that when I say 'Islam' they hear 'Muslim,' so I kept thinking that the opposition to Islam was an opposition to the Muslims, and seeing the Muslim community as victims, uh, my inclination was to stick up for them. So it wasn't until I started to do some serious research about Islam that I realized what was actually happening here and that I had gotten this whole thing completely wrong.
BOLLING: Well, what is actually happening here? I only have a couple of seconds. Tell me what you found.
EAB: I found that there's a man who raped a nine-year-old girl, who owned slaved, who killed his critics, who beheaded a tribe full of Jews, named Muhammed who is the highest moral example in Islam, for 1.6 billion people, and that this is a radical, savage religion. The people aren't all radical, thank God, but the religion is the worst, most deadliest idea in the history of the world and we need to make sure that we keep a close eye on it in this country.
BOLLING: Alright, we have to leave it there. Very interesting topic, love to have you back and maybe expand on it a little bit more, the treatment of the Left... [EAB talkover: "would love to"] ...Thank you very much for joining us.
BOLLING: Where are we when PC says remove a cross, yet it's okay to put, uh... the people who flew planes into the building are represented 500 feet away from that spot, but that's okay?That sentiment, of course, is merely an extension of Bolling's opinions expressed on the 14 July 2011 episode of FOX News' The Five:
BOLLING: There's really no question that the Ground Zero Mosque is in fact a "victory mosque," a victory by al-Qa'ida over American innocence. We woke up that September 12 realizing there are forces of evil willing to go further than we ever imagined to kill us. And somehow one of the biggest lessons to come out of this tragedy is how tolerant we have to be of those who hate us.While we're at it, we might as well mention Bolling's 6 June 2012 rhetorical (mis)statement on The Five in a discussion concerning the NYPD's surveillance program:
BOLLING: How is it that every terrorist on American soil has been a Muslim?Two Erics, of a feather, complicit in the Islamophobia industry. This industry was documented quite thoroughly in the August 2011 Center for American Progress report entitled "Fear, Inc.: the Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America" [pdf]. The report details the individual misinformation "experts," their organizations and funding sources as well as their enabling media partners, including FOX.
JUAN WILLIAMS (I know, right?): Wait a second, you mean to say Oklahoma City was conducted by a Muslim?
BOLLING: In the last 15 years.
WILLIAMS: Oh, come on.
So when EAB states above that he "started to do some serious research about Islam," guess what he was reading and watching? Well, we know some of the details from a bizarre piece of revisionist history EAB penned at FrontPage (I won't link to that dump, but it's easy enough to find if you're interested). His "awakening" seems to have started with viewing the 99-minute 2006 pseudo-documentary film "Islam: What the West Needs to Know," featuring commentary by Robert Spencer, Bat Ye'or, Walid Shoebat and other key-players in the Islamophobia network. Then he started reading Frank Gaffney (Center for Security Policy), who is one of the driving forces behind the bigoted paranoid fantasy of "Creeping Shari'a", and Robert Spencer (Jihad Watch; Stop the Islamization of America). Spencer's 2006 The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion seems to have been particularly influential, as EAB now largely parrots Spencer's bigotry (nota bene: that book appeared as "recommended reading" on the FBI's infamous PowerPoint training-presentation.) In the midst of his flameout here, EAB and Spencer exchanged a series of truly creepy mash-notes in comment-threads on Spencer's site, extracts of which were reproduced by Spencer himself in his 20 January post "Independent Thought on Jihad and Islam at the Daily Kos" (I won't link to that dump either).
EAB drank deeply of the poisoned waters of the Islamophobia network and has become a protégé of Spencer, as the folks at LoonWatch have amply documented.
It's a craaaaazy story, really, the journey from pretentious pop-guru to Islamophobic activist, beloved of Spencer et alii and now appearing with his kindred spirit Bolling on FOX. You just can't make this shit up...