•A pastor plans to kill dozens of Muslims — with machetes, assault rifles and Molotov cocktails. But he got busted and was arrested by the FBI.
•After his confession, the man was released with an ankle monitor on $30,000 bail; the district attorney’s office didn’t even publish a statement to the press.
•Liberals and Muslim citizens are enraged. They primarily ask themselves: How would the U.S. media have reacted if a Muslim had planned a similar attack on Christians?
Robert Doggart is a very active man. The 63-year-old once served in the U.S. Navy; he is pastor of the Christian National Church and has not only a master’s degree, but also a doctorate. In November 2014 he ran as an independent candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in a district in Tennessee. Doggart, for whom the Republicans are not conservative enough, received six percent of the vote.
In his election ads, he proudly appeared sitting at a desk next to an American flag. Yet, a short time later, the FBI believes the man with a white moustache meticulously planned an attack. The target: Islamberg, a settlement of Muslim-Americans in Hancock in the state of New York.
Before the FBI arrested him on April 10, 2015, Doggart had written on Facebook, “We shall be Warriors who will inflict horrible numbers of casualties upon the enemies of our Nation and World Peace. Those guys [have] to be killed. Their buildings need to be burnt down.”
The indictment leaves no doubt how precisely Doggart had planned his action with like-minded militants: He wanted to ignite the school and its cafeteria, as well as the mosque in Hancock, using Molotov cocktails. In a phone call wire-tapped by the FBI he spoke of wanting to use machetes and automatic rifles. He assumed that less than 20 “expert gunners” would be sufficient for his murderous plan. He told an accomplice in South Carolina, “And I do want to come home 'cause I love my family and I want to see my kids again. But I also understand that if it's necessary to die then that's a good way.”
Muhammad Matthew Gardner, spokesman for the Muslim community in Hancock, told the website Daily Beast, which belongs to Newsweek magazine, “Our community has been traumatized.” Meanwhile, the town’s school children published a photo in which they hold up a banner with the inscription, “Why do you want to kill us Robert Doggart?” Gardner assumes that Doggart had already visited the town that is 140 miles from New York City.
Up to Now Little Media Coverage About the Doggart Case
Along with the hate of Islam that is clearly evident in Doggart’s attack plan, Gardner, who is also active in the organization “Muslims of America,” is dismayed by one other thing: Up to now only a few media outlets have reported about the case. This is due to the fact, he suspects, that the FBI and the district attorney have released no statements to the press about the arrest, the indictment or Doggart’s guilty plea. It was not until a press release from “Muslims of America” that local and social media began to raise awareness.
Many Muslim and liberal Americans take the fact that Doggart was freed with an ankle monitor after paying $30,000 bail as proof that U.S. security services are using a double standard. However, America’s TV stations are being attacked even harder.
“It goes without saying that if Doggart had been Muslim and had planned to kill Christians in America, we would have seen wall-to-wall media coverage,” writes Dean Obeidallah in the Daily Beast.
When six young men were arrested in Minnesota in the middle of April because they were suspected of wanting to fight for the Islamic State in Syria, the district attorney in charge even held a press conference.
Fifty Five Percent of Americans Think Negatively of Islam
The community in Hancock is often designated “Islamberg” since Muslims moved out of New York City in the 80s because they wanted to raise their children with less racism, poverty and violence. “Our community consists of veterans, doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc. We are true American patriots,” emphasizes spokesman Gardner .
After the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, conservative network Fox News depicted Hancock as the home of dangerous Islamists — an assessment that was immediately refuted by the local sheriff.
Muhammad Matthew Gardner of "Muslims of America" complains that the “lax attitude” toward haters of Islam carried by the authorities causes prejudice to thrive more than it already has. As recently as April, a survey revealed that 55 percent of all Americans have a “negative opinion” of Islam. For years sociologists like Chris Bail from Duke University have depicted how the U.S. media frequently manipulate these prejudices and often link Islam with concepts like “terrorist” or “extremist.”
Bail discovered through quantitative analysis that the hate-filled rhetoric of extreme right critics of Islam is found again in leading media. From time to time, their press releases are simply copied. And Bail’s analysis also shows that negative reports about Muslims are more frequently reported on.
Since the FBI arrested Doggart before he could purchase explosives, he is accused of planning an attack on a religious group. This is aggravated by the fact that this intention was discussed in several states. He is not accused of a hate crime or terroristic motives. If Doggart is convicted, he faces a maximum punishment of five years in prison followed by three years of probation as well as a fine of $250,000.