'Extremist' Islamophobe blogger keynote speaker at Oakland County business lunch

The choice of keynote speaker at this month's upcoming Oakland County business luncheon has some people hopping mad.

The controversial speaker is James Simpson. The signup page for the meeting simply says of Simpson, "Investigative journalist James Simpson, an expert on immigration and refugee resettlement, is our keynote speaker."

Screen capture from Oakland County 2016 Business Roundtable Meeting's eventbrite page.
Screen capture from Oakland County 2016 Business Roundtable Meeting's eventbrite page.

It's a remarkably brief entry for somebody whose conclusions have inspired a great deal of controversy.

At the website of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that monitors "hate groups" across the country, a search on James Simpson brings up almost a dozen articles touching on him and his work. Instead of titles like "investigative journalist" and "refugee expert" you'll find the SPLC identifies Simpson as an "extremist blogger" who believes that immigrants are conspiring with Communists to "erase America." (That's not our overstatement: Last year, Simpson published a book titled The Red-Green Axis: Refugees, Immigration, and the Agenda to Erase America.)

Simpson is often found peddling his views in such right-wing venues as American Thinker, and a scan of the articles he's written for that magazine would seem to confirm SPLC's "extremist blogger" tag, with such articles as "Flooding the Nation with 'Syrian Refugees': American Lives Matter," "The American Refugee Resettlement Scam," and "Refugee Resettlement: A Clear and Present Danger to Our Nation." Unsurprisingly, many of his conclusions rest upon a massive conspiracy of powerful leftist forces bent on destroying our way of life.

In other words, yeah, he's an "investigative journalist" and "immigration expert" — in the same way that guy screaming and waving his wang outside the ballpark  is into "community engagement."

One article published by the SPLC said "Simpson travels the country providing training sessions for anti-Muslim activists in communities dealing with an influx of refugees." He spoke last year at anti-Muslim extremist Frank Gaffney's “National Security Action Summit,” and the speech is, well ... kinda creepy. He doesn't seem to think that people on the left are folks who just happen to disagree with him; he lumps them in with the "enemies of this country." Yikes!

We might not have heard of this had we not been contacted by former state rep and current Sugar Law staffer Rashida Tlaib, who also urged social networking users to "Please tweet at Fifth Third Bank @FifthThird and ask why they are supporting a business luncheon in Oakland County with James Simpson, an anti-immigrant, un-American hateful person, as the keynote speaker. Shame on Fifth Third Bank for sponsoring it & L Brooks Patterson for inviting him." She also tweeted on Fifth Third Bank's wall.

When contacted, Tlaib offered correspondence that led with L. Brooks Patterson inviting the public to the event, and thanking Fifth Third Bank for sponsoring the event.

And while the correspondence Tlaib furnished doesn't come out and say it, can't you sense the hand of L. Brooks Patterson guiding this? The old joker probably thinks it's a real hoot to have a guy like Simpson give a rousing speech about Muslims and liberals trying to take over America.

Fifth Third Bank, maybe not so much. When we contacted Fifth Third Bank yesterday, their communications officer seemed taken completely aback. We're guessing that the bank guessed it was on the hook for promoting a bunch of business lunches that would be utterly noncontroversial, and had no idea the Thursday grip-and-grin at the Auburn Hills Marriott Pontiac at Centerpoint was going to turn into Muslim-baiting presentation by an Islamophobe extremist.

This morning, we heard from Jack Riley, senior vice president marketing director for Fifth Third Bank for the eastern Michigan region, who told us, “In a nutshell, we withdrew our sponsorship from the Oakland County Roundtable when we learned who the speaker was.”

Riley said the bank had sponsored the roundtable for more than six years, but that the luncheon had "typically featured business leaders that in some way were contributing to the overall community of Oakland County," adding that "it's unusual that they'd have a politically motivated speaker."

UPDATE: And it turns out we weren't the only ones who see L. Brooks Patterson's guiding hand in all this. Rana Elmir, the deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, says this controversy is "just the latest in L. Brooks Patterson’s discriminatory and misinformed quest against the resettlement of refugees in Oakland County." Elmir dates Brooks anti-refugee campaign back to last year,  when Patterson declared his opposition to the development of a housing and community center in Pontiac. She points out that, two months ago, Patterson announced  plans to sue the federal government to stop refugee resettlement.

"Other states have attempted similar stunts and failed in the courts," Elmir says, noting that Patterson "has moved to pushing hate propaganda among the business community. ... He seems to relish in sowing division and betraying the American ideal of equality. Attempts to close Oakland County’s doors to Syrian refugees run counter to our laws, our values and our conscience."

As for the "extremist blogger" and his credentials, Elmir practically bursts into laughter: "Not only is calling James Simpson a journalist a stretch, but giving him the title of 'immigration and refugee expert' is laughable. This is a man who peddles propaganda and bigotry. Let’s call it what it is. Our elected officials should be able to decipher fact from fiction. But then again, L. Brooks Patterson never misses an opportunity to showcase his intolerance. He has been engaged in stunts like this for political gain for generations."

About The Author

Michael Jackman

Born in 1969 at Mount Carmel hospital in Detroit, Jackman grew up just 100 yards from the Detroit city line in east Dearborn. Jackman has attended New York University, the School of Visual Arts, Northwestern University and Wayne State University, though he never got a degree. He has worked as a bar back, busboy,...
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