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“Ted Cruz Doesn’t Seem To Mind”: Cruz’s Cozy Ties To DC’s Most Prominent, Paranoid Islamophobe

The top two Republican presidential contenders share more than a star-crossed bromance: They are also both big fans of an Islamophobic birther conspiracy theorist who thinks Huma Abedin is a sleeper agent.

It’s old news that Donald Trump has a thing for Frank Gaffney, who helms the conspiratorial Center for Security Policy. When the reality television star-turned-presidential frontrunner decided we need to temporarily ban Muslims from immigrating to the United States, he cited a methodologically goofy poll from Gaffney’s group suggesting one quarter of the world’s Muslims support global jihad and violence against America.

Though the Trump megaphone probably gave Gaffney more exposure than he’s ever had, Gaffney has friends in other high places as well: namely, the office of Ted Cruz. But Cruz, might have more to lose than his golden-hued frienemy, since his connections to Gaffney highlights just how hard it may be for him to posture as simultaneously mainstream-friendly and die-hard conservative.

In fact, just yesterday Cruz sent a video message to his buddy’s Nevada National Security Action Summit, in which he praised Gaffney without equivocation.

“I’m so sorry I can’t be there in person,” he said in the video, “but I want to thank Frank Gaffney and the entire team at the Center for Security policy for elevating these critical issues.”

“Frank, a patriot, he loves this country, and he is clear-eyed about the incredible threat of radical Islamic terrorism,” Cruz added.

Then he said that Loretta Lynch has implemented a “ban on anti-Muslim rhetoric.”

Nope. That didn’t happen.

On the offhand chance you aren’t a long-time Gaffney watcher, a few things about his resume stand out. For starters, he helped push birther conspiracy theories about Obama, writing in 2008 at the Washington Times that “[t]here is evidence Mr. Obama was born in Kenya rather than, as he claims, Hawaii.” He argues that Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, is a secret agent for the Muslim Brotherhood.

And he floated that a logo redesign for the Missile Defense Agency “appears ominously to reflect a morphing of the Islamic crescent and star with the Obama campaign logo” and was indicative of “submission to Shariah by President Obama and his team.”

Yipes!

On top of that, Gaffney has long argued that Grover Norquist, who heads the conservative Americans for Tax Reform, is secretly working to help Muslim Brotherhood moles infiltrate the U.S. government.

Big if true.

Because of curious statements like those, many mainstream conservatives have tried to banish him from their movement. He lost access to the CPAC mainstage, for example, and in 2012 got disinvited from a weekly off-the-record meeting of D.C. conservative power brokers.

But while everyone else has run away from Gaffney, Cruz has embraced him.

The video in Nevada wasn’t a one-time thing. Cruz also sent a video message to Gaffney’s July 25 New Hampshire National Security Summit, calling the organizer a “good friend.”

In March, Cruz appeared in person at Gaffney’s South Carolina National Security Action Summit—an event that Breitbart News co-sponsored—where he lavished praise on the birther.

“Frank Gaffney, the one and only,” Cruz said at that event, “you are a clarion voice for truth.”

He also appeared in person at Gaffney’s “Defeat Jihad Summit” in February of this year, where he praised his conspiratorial organization.

“This is an important gathering,” Cruz said at that event. “Let me say thank you to the Center for Security Policy for its leadership, for the Secure Freedom Strategy, a comprehensive serious strategy addressing the threat of radical Islamic terrorism.”

Secure Freedom Strategy is authored by a group called “The Tiger Team” and calls for identifying the Muslim Brotherhood’s operatives, “overt and covert.”

(Cruz’s team didn’t respond to a request for comment on whether he shared Gaffney’s concerns that Norquist is a covert Muslim Brotherhood operative. We will update this story if we hear back from them.)

On Feb. 6, 2014, he and Gaffney sat next to each other to discuss the dangers of an electromagnetic pulse attack at an event Gaffney’s group sponsored.

On September 8 of this year, he appeared on Gaffney’s radio show and said the Iran deal means “we are at a moment much like Munich in 1938, where allowing homicidal maniacs to acquire the military power to murder millions.” He also joined the show on April 22, 2014.

While Gaffney has found favor with Cruz and Trump, he isn’t buddy-buddy with everyone in the Republican presidential field. In fact, he suggested in 2011 that Chris Christie committed “misprision of treason” by appointing a Muslim lawyer, Sohail Mohammed, to the New Jersey Superior Court of Passaic County.

“Mr. Mohammed’s work for the American Muslim Union (AMU), an organization with close ties to Hamas, is what concerns Mr. Gaffney, not his religion,” emailed Alex VanNess, a spokesperson for the Center for Security Policy. “During an interview with Andy McCarthy on his book, Mr. Gaffney simply asked Mr. McCarthy if appointing a person with ties to such a terrorist group amounted to ‘misprision of treason.’”

Cruz and Trump aren’t the only 2016 contenders to legitimize Gaffney. Carly Fiorina sent a video message to the group’s most recent event, and Rick Santorum spoke at its South Carolina summit. But the Texan, by far, has done the most to consistently and publicly praise a guy who thinks Grover Norquist is a secret Muslim spy.

 

By: Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, December 15, 2015

December 16, 2015 Posted by | Frank Gaffney, GOP Presidential Candidates, Islamophobia | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Profound Test Of Their Principles”: Republican Candidates’ Despicably Lukewarm Criticism Of Donald Trump

You may remember that a year ago, Jeb Bush was musing on the Republican primary when he said that a winning GOP candidate would have “to be much more uplifting, much more positive, much more willing to… lose the primary to win the general [election] without violating your principles.” While the assumption at the time was that Bush was thinking mostly about immigration, it turns out that what we might call Bush’s Paradox applies to a whole range of issues.

Right now, the candidates are facing that paradox, in a profound test of their principles. And they’re failing.

The proximate cause is Donald Trump, who has moved from being a comical if repellent figure to being truly ghastly and sinister. As Trump has taken his xenophobia and outright hate-mongering to ever-increasing heights, the most stinging rebuke most of his opponents can offer in response is, “Well, I wouldn’t go that far.”

You might think I’m misrepresenting their statements, downplaying the degree to which they’ve condemned Trump for his ugly Islamophobic remarks. But if we look closely at what they’ve said, it’s clear that they’re being careful not to criticize him too harshly, lest they offend the voters who seem to be flocking to him precisely because he’s the one giving fullest expression to their hatred and fear.

But before we get to that, a brief review. Trump’s latest bit of demagoguery is a proposal (though I use the term loosely) to prohibit any Muslim from entering the United States — as an immigrant, as a businessperson, even as a tourist. Trump would even apply that to American citizens who had traveled out of the country and want to return. This follows on his extended insistence that “thousands and thousands” of American Muslims celebrated the fall of the World Trade Center, which was notable not just for the fact that it’s false, but for its purpose. In harping on this myth, Trump was trying to convince people that other Americans are untrustworthy, suspect, each one a terrorist sympathizer if not an outright terrorist. Add that to his assertion that mosques should be under surveillance and his toying with the idea of the government keeping a list of all Muslims for regular monitoring.

And it isn’t like Trump’s Islamophobia is unique to him. After the Paris attacks, all the Republican candidates seized on the issue of Syrian refugees to stoke fear of terrorism in the hearts of voters (even though going through the lengthy process of obtaining refugee status is about the most cumbersome and time-consuming way to reach the United States; if the attackers in Paris had wanted to come here, all they would have had to do is buy a plane ticket). Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz both said that we should accept Christian refugees, but not Muslim ones. Ben Carson said that no Muslim should be allowed to be president unless they disavowed their religion.

And how have Trump’s opponents reacted to the river of hate that gushes forth every time he steps up to a microphone? With the utmost care. “I disagree with that proposal,” Ted Cruz said about excluding Muslims from the United States. “Donald Trump is unhinged. His ‘policy’ proposals are not serious,” said Jeb Bush. “I disagree with Donald Trump’s latest proposal,” said Marco Rubio. “His habit of making offensive and outlandish statements will not bring Americans together.” Chris Christie said that the remarks showed that Trump didn’t have enough experience to deal with terrorism. “Unfortunately I think Donald Trump’s over reaction is as dangerous as Obama’s under reaction,” said Carly Fiorina. John Kasich called it “outrageous divisiveness,” mustering the strongest condemnation.

What we have there are varying degrees of disagreement, but about the worst any of them can bring themselves to say is that Trump’s ideas are nutty. Not that he’s a bigot, not that he’s using the politics of hate, not that he’s falling in line with a sordid history of racism. And certainly none of them are speaking directly to American Muslims — just imagine if they pandered to that community the way they pander to a dozen others whose votes they want.

There is one exception, who should be given all the credit he deserves: Lindsey Graham. Trump, Graham said in a recent appearance on CNN, is “a race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigot. He doesn’t represent my party. He doesn’t represent the values that the men and women who wear the uniform are fighting for.”

Perhaps it’s because Graham barely registers in the polls that he feels free to speak plainly about Trump, because those polls also show that there’s a substantial audience for what Trump is offering. Republicans give Muslims lower favorability ratings than any other group. One recent poll found that only 49 percent of Iowa Republicans thought Islam should be legal. And ugly anti-Muslim incidents, ranging from harassment to outright hate-crimes, are cropping up all over.

While Trump may not have much support for his specific ideas from other Republicans, the conservative media reinforces the mindset that produces them each and every day. Josh Marshall recently described the discussion of these issues on Fox News as “a whole tapestry of falsehoods, that combined with incitement and hysteria create a mental world in which Donald Trump’s mounting volume of racist incitement is just not at all surprising.” Fox regularly gives airtime to bigots and xenophobes to spout off about the threat not only from abroad but from American Muslims (though a lot of that shows up on other cable networks as well), rhetoric that is echoed on one conservative talk radio show after another. And don’t think Republican politicians don’t know who’s watching and listening.

So is anyone going to be surprised if next week some heavily armed right-wing terrorist walks into a mosque or a Muslim community center and starts killing as many innocent men, women, and children as he can? After all, he keeps hearing about how they’re terrorist sympathizers, how they need to be watched, how they need to be kept out, how they need to suspected and feared and hated.

I don’t know how long this ugly period will last, but I do know that history is going to judge those who created it harshly. And those who stepped carefully around a demagogue like Trump, always worried that they might offend his followers? Their cowardice will be remembered too.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Week, December 9, 2015

December 14, 2015 Posted by | Conservative Media, Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Islamophobia | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Slippery Slope To Trump’s Proposed Ban On Muslims”: The Exploitation Of Anti-Muslim Feelings For Political Purposes

With little fanfare this fall, the New York developer who had planned to build an Islamic community center north of the World Trade Center announced that he would instead use the site for a 70-story tower of luxury condos.

Those who had rallied in opposition to the building because of its religious affiliation back in 2010 were exultant. “The importance of the defeat of the Ground Zero Mosque cannot be overstated,” Pamela Geller, president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, wrote on the website Breitbart in September. “The Ground Zero Mosque became a watershed issue in our effort to raise awareness of and ultimately halt and roll back the advance of Islamic law and Islamic supremacism in America.”

“Islamic supremacism in America.” Really?

It’s all well and good that so many Republicans have condemned Donald Trump’s reprehensible call for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) was particularly forceful, calling proper attention to the “many Muslims serving in our armed forces, dying for this country.”

When he was president, George W. Bush honorably put a lid on right-wing Islamophobia. He regularly praised American Muslims and stressed that the United States needed Muslim allies to fight violent extremism. Once Bush was gone, restraint on his side of politics fell away.

Thus, Trump’s embrace of a religious test for entry to our country did not come out of nowhere. On the contrary, it simply brought us to the bottom of a slippery slope created by the ongoing exploitation of anti-Muslim feeling for political purposes.

You don’t have to reach far back in time to see why Trump figured he had the ideological space for his Muslim ban. Last month, it was Jeb Bush who introduced the idea of linking the rights of Syrian refugees to their religion. He said he was comfortable granting admission to “people like orphans and people who are clearly not going to be terrorists. Or Christians.” Asked how he’d determine who was Christian, he explained that “you can prove you’re a Christian.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) took a similar view, saying , “There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror.”

Trump took limits on Muslim access to our country to their logical — if un-American and odious — conclusion. Vice President Biden said that Trump was serving up “a very, very dangerous brew,” but the brew has been steeping for a long time. This is why the “Ground Zero Mosque” episode is so instructive.

The demagoguery began with the labeling of the controversy itself. As PolitiFact pointed out, “the proposed mosque is not at or on Ground Zero. It does not directly abut it or overlook it.” It was “two long blocks” away. And while a mosque was part of the proposed cultural center, the plans also included “a swimming pool, gym and basketball court, a 500-seat auditorium, a restaurant and culinary school, a library and art studios.”

This didn’t stop opponents from going over the top, and Newt Gingrich deserved some kind of award for the most incendiary comment of all. “Nazis,” he said, “don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust museum in Washington.”

When President Obama defended the right of developers to build the project, he was — surprise, surprise — accused of being out of touch, and Republicans were happy to make the Muslim center and Obama’s defense of religious rights an issue in the 2010 campaign.

“I think it does speak to the lack of connection between the administration and Washington and folks inside the Beltway and mainstream America,” said Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), who was then chairman of the committee in charge of electing Republicans to the Senate. Voters, he said, felt they were “being lectured to, not listened to.” Sound familiar?

At the time, John Feehery, the veteran Republican strategist, put his finger on why Republicans were so eager to lambaste Obama’s response to the Ground Zero issue. “This will help drive turnout for the GOP base,” he said.

The Republican establishment is now all upset with Trump, but he is simply the revenge of a Republican base that took its leaders’ pandering — on Islam and a host of other issues — seriously.

You can’t be “just a little” intolerant of Muslims, any more than you can be “just a little” prejudiced against Catholics or Jews. Once the door to bigotry is opened, it is very hard to shut.

 

By: E. J. Dionne, Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, December 9, 2015

December 12, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Ground Zero Mosque, Islamophobia, Muslims | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Unleashing Common Jewish Stereotypes”: Donald Trump To Republican Jews; You Can’t Buy Me

Donald Trump’s speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition this morning was a sober-minded and detailed analysis of the security threats Israel faces and the most effective way to eliminate the Islamic State.

Haha, just kidding!

He spent most of the time talking about how Jews are good negotiators and then saying they wouldn’t support him because they couldn’t buy him. A wild, stereotype-filled ride from start to finish, yes, indeed.

The Republican presidential frontrunner kicked off his talk by doing the obvious thing and talking up his poll numbers, as one does, and saying Obama “is the worst thing that’s ever happened to Israel.”

He also sought to connect with the Jewish audience by touting his business experience.

“I’m a negotiator like you folks,” he said.

Like other candidates, he criticized the president’s negotiating abilities on the Iran deal. But unlike other candidates, he suggested the president’s decision not to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism” means he is likely harboring a dark secret.

“I’ll tell you what, we have a president that refuses to use the term,” Trump said. “He refuses to say—there’s something going on with him that we don’t know about.”

The line drew immediate, noisy applause. It isn’t the first time Trump has floated curious theories about Obama’s origins; he became a Tea Party darling by vociferously questioning whether the president was born in America. He told Fox News in 2011 that secret religious beliefs might explain the president’s alleged caginess about his birthplace (Hawaii, btw).

Perhaps the most curious part of the speech—which is really saying something—came when he suggested the Jewish audience wouldn’t support him because they couldn’t control him through donations.

“I don’t want your money, therefore you’re probably not gonna support me,” he said.

“Trump doesn’t want our money, therefore we can’t—” he continued, launching into an imagined dramatic inner monologue of what the audience must be thinking, “Even though he’s better than all these guys, even though he’s gonna do more for Israel than anybody else, even though Bibi Netanyahu asked me to do a commercial for him and I did and he won his race, I was very happy.”

That sentence, you will notice, includes both the first and third persons—really terrific. His mention of Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, drew more applause. And he didn’t really make his point.

But a few minutes later in the speech, he found himself back at the same idea: mulling over whether the audience would be able to support him even if he didn’t take campaign contributions that would make them his assumed puppet masters.

“You know, you’re not gonna support me because I don’t want your money,” he said, drawing audience laughter.

The stereotype of Jews using their money to insidiously manipulate global politics is an old one, as Anti-Defamation League founder Abraham Foxman detailed in his book Jews and Money: The Story of a Stereotype. He notes that anti-Israel Middle Eastern groups often use the ugly stereotype “to claim that Israel’s survival reflects not its moral status as a nation among nations but rather the manipulation of world opinion and, especially, of U.S. policy by wealthy, self-interested Jews.”

Later in his ramble, Trump suggested Jeb Bush’s acceptance of campaign contributions means his donors control him.

“He raised $125 million, which means he’s controlled totally, totally controlled, by the people who gave him the money,” he said.

This has been a theme throughout the mogul’s campaign. He’s argued repeatedly that other candidates are beholden to their donors and won’t prioritize the country’s best interests because of their muddied loyalties.

Trump, without saying it directly, made it clear that his loyalties will remain where they have always been: to himself.

 

By: Betsy Woodrull, The Daily Beast, December 3, 2015

December 4, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Islamophobia, Israel, Jewish Voters | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The GOP Ignores The Bigger Terror Threat—From The Right”: Why Won’t Republicans Acknowledge Radical White Terrorists?

I want surveillance of certain mosques,” bellowed Donald Trump to his followers at a campaign rally in Birmingham, Alabama, over the weekend. Ted Cruz recently declared that it would be “lunacy” to allow Muslim refugees into the United States because they “could be jihadists coming here to kill Americans.” And in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, Marco Rubio exclaimed that in order to keep Americans safe, we need to be vigilant in our war against “radical Islam.”

The threat posed by ISIS is real and must be forcefully addressed. But if these Republicans truly want to keep us safe, why don’t they ever raise the issue of right-wing terrorists? After all, as The New York Times reported just a few months ago, “Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims.

The reality, of course, is that talking about scary Muslims plays great with the GOP base. In fact, a recent poll found that three-quarters of Republicans think Islam is “at odds” with American values.

But talking scary white guys gets you nowhere in the GOP. Keep in mind that Trump wouldn’t even unequivocally condemn the white supremacist groups or leaders who have expressed support for him, such as former Klan leader David Duke. The best Trump would do is say to a reporter of Duke’s endorsement that he would repudiate it “if that would make you feel better.

We hear non-stop whining from the right about why won’t President Obama use the term “radical Islam”? Well, I have a question for Trump, Cruz, and Rubio: Why are you afraid to use the term “radical conservative” and address the threat posed to Americans from the right?

Some are likely asking what right-wing violence am I talking about? Trust me, if the perpetrators were Muslims you would know their names. So here are just a few recent incidents of terror from the right:

  1. Two white supremacist were arrested just two weeks ago for plotting a terrorist attack to bomb black churches and synagogues in Virginia. As law enforcement noted, these men were planning to shoot and bomb the “occupants of black churches and Jewish synagogues” in accordance with their “extremist beliefs.”
  2. Glendon Scott Crawford, a self-professed Klan member, was convicted in August for plotting a terrorist attack involving a weapon of mass destruction that would emit radiation in lethal doses. Crawford, who will be sentenced next month to 25 years to life, was planning to slaughter Muslim Americans in upstate New York.
  3. Craig Tanber, a white supremacist was arrested in September in the murder of Iranian-American Shayan Mazroei in California. Tanber’s girlfriend had reportedly called Mazroei a “terrorist” and said “fucking Iranians” before her boyfriend stabbed the 22-year-old Iranian American to death outside a pub in Irvine, California.
  4. The criminal trial of Robert Doggart, a Christian minister, will begin in Tennessee next January in connection with his plans to slaughter Muslim Americans in New York. His plot, which was thwarted by the FBI, involved working with far right-wing militia group members and using M-4 assault rifles, armor-piercing ammunition and even machetes to cut the Muslims “to shreds.”

And, of course, the most revolting terror attack from the right involved the case of Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who in June murdered nine African Americans in a Charleston, South Carolina, church in hopes of sparking a race war. Roof, like ISIS, was using violence to accomplish his political goals.

Interestingly Trump continues to lie that “thousands” of Muslims Americans cheered in New Jersey on 9/11 but he doesn’t mention that some white right-wing Americans cheered the killing of these nine African Americans by Roof. And despicably we saw conservatives on social media cheering Friday’s Planned Parenthood shooting because in their view the gunman was stopping abortions. (As of now, we don’t know for certain the motivation of the Planned Parenthood shooter but it could very well turn out to be another example of right-wing terrorism on U.S. soil.)

There are 784 active white supremacist groups in the United States per the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC.) And these groups are not just sitting around drinking Jack Daniel’s and cursing minorities. They have radicalized people to commit violent crimes in recent years, such as the six Sikhs gunned down at a temple in Wisconsin in 2012 and the three people murdered at a Jewish Community Center in Kansas in 2014 by white supremacists.

And that doesn’t even include the violent right-wing anti-government groups like the Sovereign Citizens movement that has in recent years killed police officers and attacked government offices.

But still not a peep from these GOP candidates. Yet Cruz has no problem finding time to demonize the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. Just last month he claimed that some BLM protesters are “embracing and celebrating the murder of police officers.

And a BLM protester was assaulted at a Trump event Saturday night after the man yelled out “black lives matter.” Shockingly, Trump defended the assault saying, “Maybe he should have been roughed up,” adding, “It was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.” Does Trump believe that an African America exercising his First Amendment rights is “disgusting”?

Within days of Trump’s defense of this assault, five BLM protesters were shot at a rally in Minneapolis by three white men that were reportedly white supremacists.

Now just so it’s clear, I’m not saying that these right-wing radicals are beheading people or carrying out massive attacks like we saw in Paris. But in some cases, it seems to be that that’s only because they were stopped before they could do just that.

If these GOP presidential candidates truly want to keep Americans safe, it’s time they stop ignoring the threat posed to Americans from the right. But who are we kidding? Expect more fear mongering about Muslims by the GOP. However, let’s not pretend later that we didn’t all see the warning signs about the threat of radical right-wing terror.

 

By: Dean Obeidallah, The Daily Beast, November 29, 2015

November 30, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Islamophobia, Muslim Americans, White Supremacists | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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