This Saturday in New Hampshire, several leading Republican presidential candidates are scheduled to appear at a “National Security Action Summit,” hosted by the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a think tank led by notorious anti-Muslim conspiracist Frank Gaffney. Among the topics slated for discussion at the event are “shariah and the Global Jihad movement,” as well as border security and the “hollowing-out” of the U.S. military.
Among those listed on the event website as confirmed: Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina and George Pataki.
Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker are currently listed as “yet to confirm.”
Gaffney and the Center for Security Policy have a long and well-documented history of anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. In recent years, Gaffney has alleged that Muslims serving in the U.S. government are waging a “civilizational jihad” to undermine the country from within, famously accusing Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin of being a covert operative of the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2004, Gaffney leveled similar accusations of sedition against former DHS official and Republican political operative Faisal Gill, an individual later revealed to have been subsequently targeted for intensive government surveillance, as per documents revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and reported by The Intercept.
Following Gaffney’s participation in controversial hearings on Muslim-American radicalization in 2011, Linda Sarsour of the National Network for Arab American Communities observed that “Inviting such pseudo-experts to articulate views about Muslim communities in New York is akin to inviting David Duke, or head of the KKK to discuss African-American affairs.”
Gaffney’s Muslim conspiracies have ventured into even more paranoid territory in recent years, with claims that the U.S. Missile Defence agency logo had been altered by the Obama administration, and now “appears ominously to reflect a morphing of the Islamic crescent and star with the Obama campaign logo.” Such unhinged allegations have now earned him a listing as anti-Muslim extremist by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Matt Duss, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, was critical of the GOP’s patronage of Gaffney. “It’s really troubling that, despite his ridiculous and bigoted conspiracy theories, Gaffney has remained a player in GOP politics, thanks in large part to his considerable fundraising power,” Duss told The Intercept.
Haroon Moghul, of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, said the GOP’s seeming embrace of Gaffney is a reflection of its inability to adapt to a demographically changing United States. “Is there any growing American demographic left the GOP hasn’t alienated at this point?” Moghul asked. “On the other hand, I can see why a party that can’t bring itself to disavow Donald Trump would continue to fawn over a flagrant bigot like Gaffney.”
Given Gaffney’s history, as well as the tenor of past Center for Security Policy events, it seems likely that the New Hampshire summit will feature ample scaremongering and incitement against Muslim-Americans. The appearance of so many leading Republican figures suggests they tolerate, if not embrace, those sentiments.
Photo: Sue Ogrocki/AP