The reported appointment of a well-known anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist to President-elect Donald Trump’s advisory team is the latest bombshell to shake up liberal America.
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On Wednesday, it was reported that Frank Gaffney – described by the Southern Policy Law Center as “one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes” – is to join the new administration’s transition team, though he denied having ever been contacted by Trump's team according to The Daily Beast. Gaffney is the founder and director of the Center for Security Policy, a neo-conservative-turned-wildly-anti-Muslim think-tank.
“Gripped by paranoid fantasies about Muslims destroying the West from within,” the veteran Alabama-based civil rights organization writes on its website, “Gaffney believes that ‘creeping Shariah,’ or Islamic religious law, is a dire threat to American democracy.”
Gaffney served on the national-security advisory team of the former Republican candidate Ted Cruz. In a March 2016 profile in New York Magazine, he was dubbed the “Joe McCarthy of Islamophobia.”
Trump’s controversial call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” early on in the campaign had relied on a dubious survey undertaken by Gaffney’s think tank.
In 2011, Gaffney accused Huma Abedin, a Muslim woman and senior aide to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, of being part of a “Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy.” In a series of articles in the Washington Times in 2009, he claimed that Barack Obama’s administration had embraced the Muslim Brotherhood’s Middle East Plan. He even contended that the president had incorporated the Islamic crescent into the logo of the Missile Defense Agency. Gaffney has suggested that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was behind the Oklahoma City bombing and the 1993 attack on New York’s World Trade Center. He has accused New Jersey governor Chris Christie of complicity in treason for appointing a Muslim-American to the state judiciary, and he has described Supreme Court Justice Elana Kagan as a champion of Shariah law.
A paper published by his think-tank argued that “Shariah law has entered into state court decisions in conflict with the Constitution and state public policy.” Another claimed that an “Iran Lobby” had infiltrated the U.S. State Department under Clinton. Last year, his center lobbied actively against resettling Syrian refugees in the United States.
The following quotes also serve to illustrate the mindset of the president-elect’s latest appointee:
“During his White House years, William Jefferson Clinton — someone Judge Sonia Sotomayor might call a ‘white male’ — was dubbed ‘America’s first black president’ by a black admirer. Applying the standard of identity politics and pandering to a special interest that earned Mr. Clinton that distinction, Barack Hussein Obama would have to be considered America’s first Muslim president.
"This is not to say, necessarily, that Mr. Obama actually is a Muslim any more than Mr. Clinton actually is black. After his five months in office, and most especially after his just-concluded visit to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, however, a stunning conclusion seems increasingly plausible: The man now happy to have his Islamic-rooted middle name featured prominently has engaged in the most consequential bait-and-switch since Adolf Hitler duped Neville Chamberlain over Czechoslovakia at Munich."
-- Washington Times, June 2009
“We’re witnessing not just the violent kind of jihad that these Islamists believe God compels them to engage in, but also, where they must for tactical reasons, a more stealthy kind, or civilizational jihad as the Muslim Brotherhood calls it. We’re witnessing that playing out, not only in places in the Middle East but also in Europe, in Australia, in Canada and here in the United States as well.”
— Newsmax, October 2011
“So pervasive now is the MB’s [Muslim Brotherhood’s] ‘civilization jihad’ within the U.S. government and civil institutions that a serious, sustained and rigorous investigation of the phenomenon by the legislative branch is in order. To that end, we need to establish a new and improved counterpart to the Cold War-era’s HUAC [House Un-American Activities Committee] and charge it with examining and rooting out anti-American – and anti-constitutional – activities that constitute an even more insidious peril than those pursued by communist Fifth Columnists fifty years ago. ”
– Center for Security Policy, October 2011
“We know for a fact that the Muslim Brotherhood has as its mission the worldwide imposition of Islam's toxic, brutally repressive and anti-constitutional supremacist doctrine known as Shariah. And yes, it means here, too.”
– FamilySecurityMatters.org, August 2013
Gaffney founded CSP after serving as deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear forces and arms control policy in the Reagan administration. “Sometime after that,” the SPLC website notes,” he seemed to go off the rails, becoming increasingly taken with a conspiracy theory about the infiltration of the United States by nefarious Muslim Brotherhood operatives burrowed deep within the infrastructure. This line — amplified via Gaffney’s radio show, his contributions to numerous far-right periodicals, and the CSP website — quickly elevated his stature in hard-liner anti-Muslim circles.”
As evidence of its extremist bent, the CSP has been banned from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) – a major gathering of conservatives each year in Washington D.C.
Yet, Gaffney sees himself very much aligned with right-wing forces in Israel. Earlier this month, Haaretz published that CSP will be honoring both Israel’s ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer and Morton Klein, longstanding president of the right-wing Zionist Organization of America, with its annual Freedom Flame Award next month.
An Israeli embassy spokesman said that Dermer was “honored” to receive the award and that he greatly appreciated CSP’s “longtime support for a strong and secure Israel.”
Klein has since then drawn fire for coming out in defense of Steve Bannon, the radical right-winger Trump appointed two days ago as his top White aide.