Daniel Tutt, Islamophobia salesman

Daniel Tutt

We’ve been looking at Daniel Tutt, who when he’s not teaching at Marymount University and publishing dense, pretentious academic papers celebrating postmodern Marxist philosophy is working hard trying to sell general audiences on Islam sometimes via films or lectures or interviews, sometimes via pieces for popular media, such as the Huffington Post and something called the Islamic Monthly.

In these pieces, one of his signature moves is to start out by briefly mentioning a recent act of terrorism, and then to pivot quickly to the supposed anti-Muslim backlash thereto. One 2013 essay, for example, began as follows: “While the dust has yet to settle on the horrific Boston Marathon bombings by the Tsarnaev brothers, Muslims have already felt the impact of their association with Islam. We have witnessed a rise in Islamophobic discourse in the popular media and blogosphere….” (And the rest of the article, of course, was entirely about “Islamophobia.”) Two years later, he published a piece that began as follows: “In the wake of the tragic attacks in Paris and Beirut, Islamophobic rhetoric and hate crimes have already begun to surge. Across the country, we have politicians making calls to suspend refugee resettlement, hate crimes and mosque arsons have already begun to intensify…..”

Boston Marathon bombing

Islamophobia! Throughout his general-audience oeuvre, that’s Tutt’s favorite topic. In one essay, published shortly after the 2016 elections and entitled “Islamophobia and the Coming Trump Era,” Tutt charged that “incidents of bullying, discrimination, and hate crimes directed toward Muslims, and those perceived to be [Muslims],” had risen since Trump’s election. He provided no evidence to support this claim, and made no mention of the recent rise in acts of jihadist terror. On the contrary, instead of recognizing that there are legitimate reasons for concern about Islamic ideology, Tutt disparaged what he described as a “far right” and “highly conspiratorial and radically racist” view that “Islam is an exceptionally intolerant and violent religion.”

A fear of “the browning of America”?

He also offered up a bizarre theory – namely, that the presidency of Barack Obama, a black man, caused “white America” to experience “a climate of paranoia where Islamophobia functioned as the tip of the iceberg to a much wider fear over the ‘browning of America.’” This theory, of course, ignores the fact that Obama would never have been elected (and re-elected) president if millions of white Americans hadn’t voted for him. Nor does Tutt’s theory explain why a nationwide fear of the “browning of America” should manifest itself as Islamophobia rather than, say, as a fear of, or prejudice against, Hindus, Sikhs, Baha’i, Jainists, or, for that matter, members of predominantly black Protestant denominations.

Theodor W. Adorno

In a January 2016 academic essay, “Elements of Islamophobia: The State, Class and Capital,” Tutt served up some more original thought, arguing that American voters’ concerns about unlimited and unvetted Muslim immigration was “reminiscent of the infamous ‘Jewish problem’ that stoked rampant anti-Semitism during the first half of the twentieth century.” Of course, anti-Semitism is an ancient and irrational phenomenon; “Islamophobia” is a term invented in modern times by the Muslim Brotherhood to dismiss legitimate fears about explicit threats to Western freedom and security.

None of this, however, kept Tutt from maintaining, absurdly, that “today’s intensification of Islamophobia must be understood and diagnosed primarily, but not exclusively, as the outcome of capitalist exploitation” – or from applying theories about the roots of anti-Semitism posited by Marxist philosophers Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer to current Western attitudes about Islam. In Tutt’s essay, jihadist terror all but disappears from the picture – as, unsurprisingly, do the sundry horrors of life under sharia law.

Lying about Islam: Daniel Tutt

Sometimes, on this site, one “useful stooge” leads to another. It’s not surprising. These stooges tend to move in packs. It’s that lockstep-ideology thing. Strength in numbers – or, actually, cowardice in numbers. The more Maoists, the merrier.

Daniel Tutt

This year we’ve spent a good deal of time on Islamic apologist extraordinaire Jonathan A. C. Brown. One of his comrades and collaborators, it turns out, is a fellow named Daniel Tutt, who like many of today’s intellectuals, academics, and activists is what you might call a red-green type, combining Marx with Muhammed, Das Kapital with the Koran. Tutt’s résumé is packed with the names of various benign-sounding activities – “interfaith” this, “dialogue” that, organizations devoted to “peace” and “reconciliation” between Islam and whatever. We listed the names of some of these organizations yesterday. If they bring to mind the equally congenial-sounding names of various Soviet front groups of the Cold War era, well, there’s a very good reason for that.

Bottom line: this guy is a hardcore Islamic ideologist masquerading as a gentle bridge-builder.

One of the items he’s shilled for in his role as “Outreach Director” of the Unity Productions Foundation, which makes pro-Islam propaganda, is a video called American Muslims: Facts vs. Fiction. It’s an inexpensive, You Tube-friendly product that starts out with Muslims staring into the camera and citing various “stereotypes about Muslims.” For example: “Muslim women are oppressed.”

And: “The Koran teaches hate.” Sorry, but these aren’t “stereotypes”; they’re hard facts. No, not every Muslim woman is oppressed, and not every word of the Koran teaches hate. But hundreds of millions of Muslim women are treated as less than second-class citizens – according to Islam, they’re the property of their husbands; their testimony in court is worth half that of a man; their husbands can rape, beat, and divorce them at will; and so on.

Eli Clifton

And all that nastiness about women accounts for only a fraction of the hate in the Koran, a book that American Muslims consistently misrepresents. There are certain lines of the Koran that are routinely yanked out of context in order to make Islam look benign: this film quotes several of them reliably. One guy actually tells us that the idea that one should “show mercy to those on earth” is “the cornerstone of what Islam teaches.” Indeed, American Muslims lays on the lies from beginning to end. Among the film’s talking heads is Eli Clifton, co-author of Fear Inc., a 2011 “report” that demonizes honest critics of Islamic ideology as purveyors of hate. The film is whitewashing, pure and simple.

Susan Sarandon

A more high-profile film fronted by Tutt is a 2011 documentary entitled Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World. Premiered at the Kennedy Center, broadcast a few month later on PBS, and narrated by Susan Sarandon, it’s part of a larger, long-term enterprise called “the Bridging Cultures: Muslim Journeys bookshelf.” And what exactly is that? It’s an initiative that, among other things, provides “[f]ree books and films” about Islam to libraries – another way of saying that it packs the shelves of public libraries with its brainwashing materials.

And the suckers are falling for it. In a 2012 interview (see bel0w) with Terrilynn Chun of the American Library Association, Tutt complained that for the previous eleven years Americans had been inundated with messages and images associating Islam with violence (gee, wonder why?), and said that in order to counter those messages and images the UPF was providing “humanizing stories about Muslims” that “dispel stereotypes.” (“Great!” replied a cheery Chun.) He added that the UPF also supplies this stuff to schools. (“Wonderful!” said Chun.) And it also distributes them to museums: Islamic Art, he added, had already been screened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and several other major U.S. art museums (in addition to being in the collections of over 500 libraries worldwide).

Meet Daniel Tutt, acolyte of both Marxism and Islam

Jonathan A. C. Brown

Yesterday we featured a follow-up on Jonathan A.C. Brown, the Muslim convert, Georgetown University professor, and full-time Islamic apologist who is wont to defend slavery and child bribes and who keeps throwing critics out of his lectures. Or, at least, one critic, Andrew Harrod, who recently recounted his expulsion by Brown from yet another Georgetown event. This latest episode introduced a new character into our story: one Daniel Tutt, whom Harrod identified as being associated both with Marymount University and with Unity Productions Foundation (UPF), “a producer of pro-Islam films.” It was Tutt who had invited Harrod to the event – obviously by mistake – and Tutt who, in Harrod’s presence, “obsequiously” apologized to Brown for having done so.

Daniel Tutt

Who is Daniel Tutt? In addition to having been involved since 2007 with the UPF, where he’s “Director of Programs and Producer,” and since December 2015 with Marymount, where he’s an adjunct professor of philosophy, he’s an “expert” at the Institute for Social Progress and Understanding (ISPU), whose website describes him as an “interfaith activist with a focus on anti-Muslim bigotry and interfaith dialogue.” But that’s not all: he’s alsothe project director for 20,000 Dialogues, a national interfaith and cross-cultural dialogue project sponsored by the Unity Productions Foundation.”

At UPF, according to its website, Tutt “has overseen and helped to develop lesson plans, curricula and websites including American Muslims: Facts vs. Fiction20,000 Dialogues, My Fellow American and Understanding Muslim Diversity.” Previously, he was “co-director of the 9/11 Unity Walk, a multi-city interfaith peace walk that brings faith communities together for dialogue and reconciliation.” He’s also been associated with the Points of Light Foundation and has been an “adviser” for “the Washington Region for Justice and Inclusion, the Muslim Advisory Arts Council of Americans for Informed Democracy, and the United Religions Initiative of Washington, DC.” You get the picture.

Alain Badiou

Tutt attended Southern Oregon University and American University before getting his Ph.D. in 2014 from the European Graduate School, where he wrote a dissertation about four postmodern philosophers – Alain Badiou, Slavoj Žižek, Ernesto Laclau, and Jean-Luc Nancy. On top of everything else, he’s also directed a film, Insurrections, about “the role of philosophy and thinking since the period of intensified rioting and protests beginning in August of 2010 in London and then continuing to Arab regions, before igniting in the Occupy Wall Street movements globally.”

Jean-Luc Nancy

The combination on Tutt’s curriculum vitae of postmodern academic pursuits and his involvement in Islamic propaganda projects – not to mention his making of a film which somehow, apparently, manages to fit into both categories – strongly suggests both that he’s a member of what’s sometimes called the red-green coalition, which brings together Communists and Muslims as strategic allies, and that he somehow manages the intellectual feat of having one foot in each camp. This fact becomes clearer the more closely one at Tutt’s work: this, one discovers, is a man who’s written with equal enthusiasm about Marx and Muhammed.

Want more details? Tune in tomorrow.

Honoring a murderer in New York

The aftermath of the Fraunces Tavern bombing

Three facts. First, the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (Armed Forces of National Liberation, or FALN) was a Marxist-Leninist terrorist group that was dedicated to Puerto Rican independence and that, between 1974 and 1983, killed several people in over a hundred bomb attacks within the United States. The most famous of these actions was a 1975 bombing that took four lives at the historic Fraunces Tavern in New York City.

Oscar López Rivera

Second, Oscar López Rivera was an FALN leader who was arrested in 1980, sentenced to 55 years in federal prison in 1981, and released on May 17 as the result of a commutation order issued by Barack Obama three days before the end of his presidency. President Clinton had offered to release him as far back as 1999 on the condition that he renounce violence – but López Rivera refused. Obama placed no such condition on him.

Third, the organizers of New York City’s annual Puerto Rican Day Parade announced in early May that the parade, set to take place on June 11, would honor López Rivera as a “National Freedom Hero.”

Joseph Connor

Joseph Connor, the son of one of the four people killed in the Fraunces Tavern bombing, Frank Connor, responded to the news with a furious op-ed in the New York Post. “The idea is truly sickening,” he wrote. Reminding readers that New York City had been the setting for the “most horrific” of all of FALN’s bombings, he asked: “Why would anyone in New York salute this man — particularly in the midst of our nation’s war on terrorists?”

Melissa Mark-Viverito

Even more appalling, the announcement of this twisted tribute to López Rivera had been made by a public official, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, at “the very site of the most horrific terror attack in our nation’s history,” namely the 9/11 assault on the Twin Towers. Coincidentally, Frank Connor’s godson, Steve Schlag, was one of the over 3000 victims of that assault. And that wasn’t the only grim coincidence: the Twin Towers, Joseph Connor noted, was the location of a 1977 threat by FALN that “prompted an evacuation” of both towers.

So it is, wrote Joseph Connor, that “the city in which our father was born, raised, worked and was murdered — a city bloodied by the most savage of all terrorist attacks on 9/11 — will play host to honoring” a terrorist with the blood of New Yorkers on his hands.

Fraunces Tavern

As Connor pointed out, López Rivera’s terrorism never had the slightest thing to do with freedom. Puerto Ricans have frequently had the opportunity to vote on the status of their island – independence, statehood, or a continuation of its unique commonwealth status? “Never more than 5 percent of them have ever voted for independence from America,” wrote Connor, “and in 2012 fully 60 percent voted for statehood.”

No, what López Rivera was fighting for was not freedom but “subjugation in a Cuba-like state.” After all, another notorious FALN member, William Morales, “has been a guest of Cuba for over 30 years.” New Yorkers, maintained Connor, “should be fuming. The NYPD and FDNY should refuse to participate.”

As of this writing, there’s no news about the NYPD or FDNY pulling out of the parade. But on May 16, it was reported that Goya Foods, America’s “oldest and best-known Hispanic food company,” had withdrawn support from the parade because of the tribute to López Rivera. But Univision, Telemundo, SBS, JetBlue, Coca-Cola, AT&T, McDonald’s, and the New York Yankees all stayed on as sponsors.

As the date of the parade approaches, we’ll keep an eye on developments.  

Birth of a baby chavista

On May 16, Tucker Carlson welcomed a guest on his Fox News TV show who looked as if he was about twelve years old. He was, in fact, a 19-year-old college student named Dakotah Lilly who was there to defend chavismo in Venezuela and to deny that any of that country’s current problems – including the collapse of food supplies and medical services – were caused by socialism.

In the interview (which begins at about the thirty-minute mark in the video below), Carlson asked Lilly to address the fact that wherever socialism has actually been tried, it has been a disaster. Sidestepping Carlson’s list of Soviet bloc countries whose modern histories prove his point, Lilly simply parroted Maduro administration propaganda. “What Venezuela is currently facing right now,” said Lilly, “is terrorism at the hands of the opposition” – an opposition that, he insisted, is deliberately destroying “the progress Venezuela has made over the past few years.”

From beginning to end, Lilly’s portrait of Venezuela today was Alice-through-the-looking-glass stuff. The real victims of violence in the country, he charged, are supporters of the Maduro government. The real causes of Venezuela’s economic problems are (a) sanctions by the United States and (b) “hoarding by multinational corporations.” He even defended the Supreme Court’s closing, on Maduro’s orders, of the National Assembly. Carlson asked whether Lilly could speak Spanish or if he had actually ever been in Venezuela, but never got an answer to either question.

Dakotah Lilly

Who is Lilly? He’s currently a student of political science at Eugene Lang College (a unit of the New School in New York City) and a member of Students and Youth for a New America (SYNA), whose website makes it clear that it’s basically a bunch of junior Communists. Lilly isn’t the only SYNA member who has drunk the Kool-Aid on Venezuela: the group’s site features an article in which one Caleb T. Maupin (a frequent contributor to Iran’s Press TV) sneered at the idea that the downfall of the Venezuelan economy confirms “clichés [Americans] heard in elementary school about how ‘Communism just doesn’t work.’” Maupin claimed that, on the contrary, “millions of Venezuelans have seen their living conditions vastly improved through the Bolivarian process.”

Cindy Sheehan giving a hug to everyone’s favorite race hustler and shakedown artist, Jesse Jackson

As for Lilly’s own oeuvre, in September 2015, Cindy Sheehan (a famous antiwar activist during the George W. Bush administration who all but disappeared from the media once Barack Obama became president) posted on her website a “guest article” by Lilly entitled “Socialism, A Love Story.” Excerpts: “Capitalism isn’t working and it never has….Capitalism is a system that has run its course, much like slavery and feudalism. The future however is optimistic and a new system is on its way to being established, that system is Socialism.” As to the argument that socialism “never works in practice,” Lilly confidently asserted: “This could not be farther from the truth. Humans are naturally co-operative beings and to suggest that exploiting each other for valueless paper is somehow embedded in our genes is ludicrous.”

Caleb T. Maupin

What about China or the USSR? These weren’t really socialist countries, argued Lilly, although “Socialist elements of the USSR and Cuba, have led to the launching of the Sputnik and the eradication of homelessness and hunger. Imagine what the potential of Socialism is in a nation as rich and developed as the USA.” At the time he wrote that article, Lilly was, according to his contributor’s note, the 17-year-old “leader of Lehigh Valley Youth Democratic Socialists” whose “first mass action was joining Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox and other organizations in March in WDC for Spring Rising; in his spare time he likes smashing patriarchy, imperialism, capitalism and defending the oppressed.”

Those now-iconic empty Venezuelan grocery-store shelves

Why would such a callow and obscure character as Lilly be invited on Carlson’s show in the first place? The answer, one suspects, is that all the heavy hitters who were standing up for chavista economics as recently as a couple of years ago have either changed their tune or changed the topic. You might suggest that the best way to respond to the puerile views of a Dakotah Lilly is to ignore him; but this is the sort of person who, in a couple of years, will be out of college and in a first-rung position at some think tank or NGO or congressional office in Washington, D.C., or some other power center, using his twisted opinions to help set the nation’s future agenda. Best to be aware of these people as soon as possible, and to remember to track them as they move from the classroom into positions of authority. 

Pete Seeger, Kremlin tool — and American hero?

Seeger in later years

We’ve spent the last couple of days exploring the career of Pete Seeger, musician, activist, Stalinist, and on-again, off-again critic of the U.S. (depending on the orders from Moscow). As with many other radical performers, he had ardent fans in politically active circles during the Depression and World War II, got in a bit of hot water with the government in the postwar years, acquired new counterculture fans during the civil-rights and Vietnam era, and in his old age, like many other sometime traitors, found himself being honored by the same government that had once called him in on the carpet and celebrated by the same media that had once banned or refused to review his performances.

David Boaz

But there was also a backlash. When the New Yorker ran a long, gushing profile of Seeger in 2006, praising him as a “conservative” devotee of “the Constitution and the Bill of Rights,” David Boaz of the Cato Institute took to the pages of the Guardian to remind readers of “Seeger’s long habit of following the Stalinist line.” Boaz cited the rapid switcheroo that Seeger underwent between Songs of John Doe and Dear Mr. President, contrasting some lines from the former (“Franklin D, listen to me, / You ain’t a-gonna send me ‘cross the sea. / You may say it’s for defense / That kinda talk ain’t got no sense”) with some very different lines from the latter:

Now, Mr President
You’re commander-in-chief of our armed forces
The ships and the planes and the tanks and the horses
I guess you know best just where I can fight …
So what I want is you to give me a gun
So we can hurry up and get the job done!

Ronald Radosh

Boaz quoted Ronald Radosh: “Seeger was antiwar during the period of the Nazi-Soviet Pact; pro-war after the Soviet Union was the ally of the United States; and anti-war during the years of the Cold War and Vietnam.” He also quoted historian Alan Charles Kors: “We rehearse the crimes of Nazism almost daily, we teach them to our children as ultimate historical and moral lessons, and we bear witness to every victim. We are, with so few exceptions, almost silent on the crimes of Communism.” Indeed. Commented Boaz: “We can only hope that soon it will be the season for holding accountable those who worked for Stalinist tyranny, as we have held accountable those who worked for National Socialist tyranny.”

Alas, that reckoning did not take place in Seeger’s own lifetime. In 2007 he was feted at the Library of Congress; two years later, he performed at Barack Obama’s inaugural concert. At age 92, still a radical, he marched with Occupy Wall Street in New York. When he died in January 2014, Obama issued a statement saying that Seeger had “used his voice and his hammer to strike blows for workers’ rights and civil rights; world peace and environmental conservation, and he always invited us to sing along. For reminding us where we come from and showing us where we need to go, we will always be grateful to Pete Seeger.”

Always a Communist: Pete Seeger

The Weavers

As we saw yesterday, the folk singer Pete Seeger was, in the late 1930s, a slavish servant of the Kremlin line who was capable, at a moment’s notice, of making a 180-degree change in his position on any issue whatever. To continue the story: in the 1950s, he was a member of the Weavers, whose hits included the old tunes “Goodnight, Irene” and “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine”; in the 1960s, this time as a solo act, he became a symbol of leftist protest. Identified strongly with the civil-rights and Vietnam War eras, he co-wrote such songs as “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”, “If I Had a Hammer,” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!”, which became hits for performers ranging from The Byrds to Marlene Dietrich. Seeger also helped make “We Shall Overcome” an anthem of the protest movement. (He claimed that he was the one who changed the auxiliary verb in the title from “will” to “shall.”) Called before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1955, he refused to answer questions; six years later he was found guilty of contempt of Congress, but his conviction was overturned. In November 1969, he led half a million protesters in singing “Give Peace a Chance” outside the White House.

Speaking to the House Un-American Activities Committee

According to some sources, Seeger became disillusioned with Communism, quitting the Party in 1949. Other sources, however, say that he considered himself a Communist all his life. “I still call myself a Communist,” he said in 1995, “because Communism is no more what Russia made of it than Christianity is what the churches make of it.” On the one hand, he went to Russia in 1965 and to North Vietnam in 1972. On the other hand, he sang at a benefit concert for Poland’s anti-Soviet Solidarity movement in 1982. At some point he also publicly apologized for having thought Stalin was anything other than a monster – but he watered down the apology by saying, “I guess anyone who calls himself a Christian should be prepared to apologize for the Inquisition, the burning of heretics by Protestants, the slaughter of Jews and Muslims by Crusaders. White people in the U.S.A. ought to apologize for stealing land from Native Americans and enslaving blacks.”

Performing with Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, and Arlo Guthrie in 1968

And so on, for several more sentences, the point being that everybody alive today has ancestors who did horrible things that need to be apologized for. The difference, of course, is that today’s Christians did not personally work with Torquemada or take part in the Crusades – whereas Seeger himself was a willing tool of Stalin, mindlessly following his orders and tailoring the message of his music to the Kremlin directives of the day. Then again, in 2007, heeding a critical article by historian Ronald Radosh, Seeger wrote “Big Joe Blues,” a song in which he accused Stalin of ruling “with an iron hand” and of having “put an end to the dreams / Of so many in every land. / He had a chance to make / A brand new start for the human race. / Instead he set it back / Right in the same nasty place.”

Good try, but it could be argued that this is pretty weak stuff. Did Stalin really set humanity back “in the same nasty place”? Or did he, by injecting sheer terror into the daily lives of an entire country and by imprisoning, torturing, and murdering tens of millions, take it to places far nastier than those anyone else (excepting perhaps Hitler and Mao) had ever conceived of?