Following the ongoing theme of our series on Islamophobia, this article is about Islamophobia funding — in particular, the role of family funds in the Islamophobia industry. But first, amid all the worrying news that we endure, here is a story of Islamophobes whacking each other for decent people everywhere to enjoy.
In late July, Toronto Sun columnist Tarek Fatah published a column in which he wrote, “Bernier is right when he told his party faithful: ‘Among the threats to our values and way of life is political Islam, or Islamism, the fastest-growing and most dangerous radical ideology in the world today.’ Canadians dismiss Bernier’s fears at their own peril.”
He was referring to Maxime Bernier, prominent former member of the Conservative Party of Canada who, after falling out with the Conservative leadership, created his own, even more Islamophobic party called the People’s Party of Canada (PPC).
Fatah’s column went up on the same day that he attended Bernier’s “immigration rally” near Toronto’s Pearson Airport. The Islamophobe-in-chief claims he was personally invited by Bernier to the event, but as he tried to enter the venue, the PPC’s security refused to let him in. The 70-year-old Fatah was left to suffer in the “sweltering sun” as he tried to enter, at which point he was confronted by what could rightfully be called a monster of his own making.
A far-right YouTuber, Derek Harrison, told Fatah to “f*** off to the s***hole you came from,” and he and other “white nationalists” repeatedly laughed at Fatah and his brown Islamophobes. Harrison nearly shoved Fatah to the ground, and Fatah responded by knocking Harrison’s coffee out of his hand and then whacking him in the head with his cane, as security scrambled to break them up.
Fatah’s humiliation did not end there. He demanded that the PPC report the incident to the police, but they refused to do so. In fact, they even let Harrison into the event, only asking him to keep his distance from Fatah. Harrison later posted a video on YouTube justifying his actions and calling Fatah a “Pakistani penguin.”
Having been dragged by white supremacists — the same people whose narrative about brown-skinned Muslims he fuels on a daily basis through his columns and social media posts — Fatah quietly took his ball and went home, only, though he did retweet a claim that Maxime Bernier, who he has fervently supported, is “incompetent” and propped up by “latter day Nazis.”
This is yet another case of Islamophobic scavengers — one white and one brown — eeking out their grim lives while their masters in the Islamophobia industry watch on, possibly with a smirk and some popcorn. In recent articles in the Crescent, we have shed light on many of these puppeteers, and in this article we will expose more of them.
In previous articles, we have looked at donor-advised funds (DAFs), which enable the wealthy to do large-scale “arm’s length” investing into Islamophobic projects without exposing themselves. Another kind of fund that is used to finance Islamophobic initiatives is the family fund. We previously mentioned three such funds: the Stephen Harold Schimmel Foundation, the Mirowski Family Foundation, and the Heavenly Father’s Foundation. Let us look at these in more detail.
The Stephen Harold Schimmel Foundation is private, tax-exempt, and based in California. It is apparently run by Rosalba Schimmel, the wife of millionaire Stephen Schimmel. They seem to be a very private family, as very little information about them is publicly available. What we do know is that Stephen Schimmel is of Jewish background and had some loathing for his father, owner of a multi-million dollar engraving business, who Schimmel has accused of “tearing away my inheritance.”
Schimmel eventually converted to Christianity. Between 2014 and 2016, his family fund donated more than $1 million to the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). The CBN is a prominent Islamophobia media outlet. Its founder, Pat Robertson, has called Islam “satanic,” a “violent religion,” and “political ideology.” He has also said that Muslims should be dealt with as “members of some fascist group.” He has also said that Hinduism is “demonic” and Buddhism is a disease — again reminding us that conscientious people of all walks of life need to work against these hate-mongers. And the Schimmels are eagerly funding all of this.
The Mirowski Family Foundation is more public about their obscenity. Since being established in 1997, the family has funded a variety of initiatives, including Zionist groups, Oxfam, Princeton University, and the Birthright Israel Foundation. The fund is named after Mieczyslaw (Michel) Mirowski, a Holocaust survivor who moved to Israel and became a cardiologist, and later (in the US) co-invented the implantable defibrillator. It is shameful that an otherwise respectable legacy has been dragged through the mud through his family fund’s support for hateful causes.
Between 2014 and 2016, the Mirowski Family Foundation contributed more than $1.1 million to clearly Islamophobic projects, including Americans for Peace and Tolerance and the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI, discussed in detail in a previous article). Their single largest donation during this period went to the so-called Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), which produces misleading content about Islam, Muslims, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The most public of these three family funds is the Heavenly Father’s Foundation. This belongs to the Wilks brothers of Texas, Farris and Dan, each of whom is worth about $1.4 billion (as of 2017). The Wilks made their money in the fracking industry, and reportedly own about 700,000 acres of land in the US, especially in Montana. Reporting from an event organized by the Christian extremist David Lane in 2013, a reporter for the Christian Broadcasting Network said, “The Wilks brothers worry that America’s declining morals will especially hurt the younger generation, so they’re using the riches that the Lord has blessed them with to back specific goals.” Thus, they hope to “bring the Bible back into school.”
While they’re at it, they are two of the largest funders of so-called Prager University, a non-accredited online “university” which offers no degrees and aims to spread propaganda among middle and high school students. PragerU’s mission is to “create the most persuasive, entertaining, and educational case possible for the values that have made America and the West the source of so much liberty and wealth, […] values [that] are Judeo-Christian at their core.” In 2015, the Wilks gave $1.1 million to PragerU, at least $120,000 of it being funneled through the Heavenly Father’s Foundation; Farris Wilks gave $500,000 more in 2016, through another family fund, the Thirteen Foundation. The Wilks’ relatives are apparently also heavily involved: as of 2016, Ladd Wilks was treasurer and Josh Wilks was a director.
All so PragerU can go ahead and make derogatory videos, some of which receive millions of views, about the violent nature of Islam and the dangers of Muslim migrants coming into Europe — all qualified by “experts” on Islam like Ayaan Hirsi Ali. But just in case this may not be enough contribution on their part toward misinforming the public, the Wilks brothers also fund The Daily Wire, the “news” and opinion website of another notorious Islamophobe, Ben Shapiro. More to come on this game of puppets and puppeteers.