Komen & Islamophobia, A New Conservative MO?

Much has been said about the recent controversy over the Susan B. Komen Fund’s pulling support for breast cancer screening Planned Parenthood and subsequent attempts to backtrack (though PP has simply gone from ineligible for future grants to eligible for future grants, with no promise of future funding). Over at The Daily Dish, a reader says that this is an internet victory akin to the stop SOPA/PIPA campaigns. However, in the outrage over what Komen did, much of the rationale was overlooked. At a gross level, the reasons for the attempted withdrawal of funding represent a conservative MO that mirrors the way the Islamophobia industry operates.

Here is the basic structure of the approach:

1. Politicize a legal and private concern. It can be the practice of religion (Islam) or health care (breast cancer screening).

2. When you cannot make something that is Constitutionally protected illegal, you smear the organizations with the taint of criminality. This allows the opponents of individual rights and liberties to vilify law-abiding citizens, and try people in the court of public opinion. For example, a CNN article states:

”The move is clearly connected to attempts by Republicans in Congress to defund Planned Parenthood,” the organization said in a statement. “In responding to questions about its decision, the foundation cited as its rationale a sham ‘investigation’ into Planned Parenthood launched by Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns as one of the most militant anti-choice members of Congress.” 

In September, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, on which the Florida congressman sits, began an investigation into Planned Parenthood over the organization’s “compliance with federal restrictions on funding abortions.” This move of using legal weight to accuse someone of a crime, without actually finding wrongdoing is rampant in the Islamophobia industry. The equivalent is the “unindicted co-conspirator” charge, a ploy which has been ruled unconstitutional.

3. Once the taint is established, hope that no one notices that you are crafting laws and policies that selectively target a group. In this case, Komen said they didn’t want to fund Planned Parenthood because of an investigation. However, they continue to fund, without objection, programs at Penn State, which is under investigation for child abuse.

4. Pack institutions with ideologues who have no expertise in the fields in which they are made responsible in order to further goals of vilification, discrimination, and violation of civil liberties. Again, The Daily Dish points out that the controversy erupted with the hire of a new VP for Policy, Karen Handel (since resigned), who ran a gubernatorial campaign with a plank of defunding Planned Parenthood. This is like trusting a report by Frank Gaffney on national security. No knowledge, just vitriol.

Personally, this MO has proven so effective against Muslims for so long, I can easily see it spreading against other groups that are exercising their rights. Expect to see more of these tactics, more double-speak, and more shrillness from conservatives as they realize people have a fondness for the Constitution and civil liberties.