Alert, on edge New Yorkers are increasingly stressed, fed by a media diet of bad news stories sensationalizing the radical Islamist threat. Moreover, with upcoming presidential elections, many residents expect such scare stories to increase their apparent justifications for increased military expenditure, war and civil liberties restrictions.

Over six years after the terror attack of 9/11, a significant sector of the mainstream media has continued to fan the fear of immigrants in general and of Muslims in particular. Last month, CNN’s Lou Dobbs spoke out, and the polls seemed to agree with him; and immigrant advocates were shocked to see the Governor of New York backtrack on Drivers Licenses for the undocumented.

Yet far worse may lie ahead for immigrants and for Muslims. Mike Savage and Ann Coulter continue talk radio attacks unabated, while the transnational power of the blogosphere continues to churn out messages of extreme negativity, often focused on immigrants and Muslims.

While some threat most certainly exists, an army of self-proclaimed “experts” from neo-conservative think tanks have hyped the dangers of Islamic radicalization, seeing Muslim or pro-Arab radicals everywhere they look, and targeting academic freedom in the name of patriotism and the “War on Terror.”

FBI and Arab and Muslim community reports show hate crimes increase in relation to such media provocations as well as reports of real terror attacks.

With its history of immigrant assimilation, reviled by the far right as a haven for “illegals’ and the “sanctuary city,” one might expect New York City to be an exception to this xenophobic trend. But sadly it is not an exception, with fearful residents influenced by tabloids and talk radio as well as class resentment of immigrant success.

And yet one might at least expect the CUNY leadership to honor the multicultural character of this city. But with Jeffery Wiesenfeld on the CUNY Board of Trustees, CUNY seems to be providing sanctuary for yet another opponent of multicultural education who seems unafraid to make inflammatory statements against certain minority groups to achieve his radical ends. . .

Most recently, Wiesenfeld has been in the forefront of the attack on academic freedom in 2007. As New York Board Chair of the Stop the Madrassa Coalition, he has joined a group that has repeated baseless charges that a new dual language Arabic English public school, the Kahlil Gibran International Academy, would inevitably become a haven for terrorists and was already a radical “Madrassa” religious school.

None of the coalition’s allegations against the school or against the Principal were or are grounded in fact. Nor were the numerous articles in the New York Post or the New York Sun, which linked them to its main web page. (MORE)


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