Although an anti-Muslim hate group has decided to call off the rallies they had planned across the country, officials in Syracuse had already spared them the trouble by quashing a rally planned for their city days after the violence witnessed in Charlottesville, Virginia on August, 12th.
Up until last week, a group called ACT For America had been planning a series of “America First” rallies in 36 states nationwide on September, 9th, but the group announced last week the events were cancelled, opting instead for an online “Day of ACTion.” It’s still unclear what the hell that even means.
By the time the decision came, there were likely already some broken-hearted bigots in Syracuse. Only days after the carnage in Virginia, the city had decided to deny the permits ACT would have needed to lawfully assemble. A spokesperson for Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said at the time the move was related to health and safety concerns expressed by local law enforcement who would’ve been busy patrolling other events that day.
Perhaps. It also could’ve had something to do with similar “March Against Sharia” rallies the group held elsewhere in June that were attended by white supremacy groups and KKK leaders. It might also be because a “free speech” rally planned by like-minded folks in Boston proved many, many people disagree with the bigotry of some who associate with ACT.
In its official statement, not only did ACT pull a Trump and allude to both sides contributing to the decision, they some how managed to squeeze ISIS in there.
“ACT for America is deeply saddened that in today’s divisive climate, citizens cannot peacefully express their opinion without risk of physical harm from terror groups domestic and international,” the statement reads. “Given the security issues of organizing public events, the responsible decision is to deny this opportunity to Neo Nazis, Antifa, the KKK, and ISIS inspired individuals and groups.”
What the Hell is ACT Anyway?
ACT for America was founded in 2007 by Lebanese immigrant Brigitte Gabriel. The “ACT” in the organization’s name stands for “American Congress For Truth,” a similar group Gabriel founded shortly after the September, 11th attacks in 2001.
To get a gist of what this lady is all about, one need only to take a look at the titles of her two books, “Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America” and “They Must Be Stopped: Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can Do It.” I know, she sounds lovely.
Gabriel and her Christian family fled Southern Lebanon in 1975 at the start of the country’s civil war. This experience clearly impacted her views on Islam and those who adhere to the religion.
As is typical with people of color in the Republican Party, Gabriel has gained favor in right-leaning circles for being of Arab descent while using a broad brush to paint all Muslims as killers who target Americans and wish to bring about an end to western civilization through the slow implementation of Sharia Law into every aspect of our daily lives.
At first glance, ACT for America’s slick star-spangled website looks like that of any other political organization. It comes off as a harmless non-profit that “simply educates citizens and elected officials to impact public policy and protect America from terrorism.”
However, it quickly becomes clear that ACT is nothing more than an outlet from which Gabriel and her ilk can spread their message of hatred towards all things Muslim, which, as is far too often the case, devolves into rabid xenophobia and a deep disdain for black and brown people.
As such, ACT has been dubbed a full-fledged hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and it’s not like ACT is just a bunch of loud-mouth bigots looking for an audience. ACT for America has influence. ACT proudly presents many of the discriminatory policies it has successfully pushed to see implemented across the country.
And of course, Gabriel and Donald Trump are on great terms. Gabriel was (allegedly) invited to the White House for a meeting with officials likely complete with broad generalizations, outrageous claims and the signature xenophobic bigotry she’s famous for.
Threat to Refugees and Immigrants.
It’s no coincidence members of ACT have been so quick to gather in Central New York. Soon after the Trump administration took over, Mayor Miner defiantly proclaimed Syracuse a sanctuary city, or a place where immigrants could live without fear of deportation.
Syracuse has become a haven for refugees – mostly from Somalia, one of the countries included in the constitutionally-shaky travel ban currently in effect. Central and Upstate New York also have a massive dairy industry propped up largely by immigrants and refugees.
That’s right: despite what Trump said to the Australian Prime Minister on the phone, New York’s refugees and immigrants TOTALLY go on to work for our “local milk people.” Which, outside of the obvious reasons, is why having a bunch of people lining up on the curb to scream about how much they want to kick them out of our community makes residents uncomfortable.
Knowledge is Power to the Peaceful
So long as ACT’s hate rally stays on the Internet, the next couple of weeks in Syracuse should be quiet. No one has set a date for a rally of any kind in the near future, but even when the bigoted ideas expressed in forums find their way to the streets once again, the hope is that those confronting ACT or anyone else will continue to do so peacefully.
Fortunately, Syracuse is off to a great start. When ACT held one of their anti-Sharia rallies in Syracuse back in June, non-violent protesters and members of the New York Antifa Alliance staged a counter-protest directly across the street. Thankfully there was no violence and there were no arrests.
With potential crises averted and peace in Salt City (for now), it behooves Syracuse residents to brush up on ACT for America, not only to simply educate themselves, but to get a sense of the type of radical ideology ACT’s members are bringing into their communities to target our friends, family and neighbors.