December 8, 2015


The Islamophobe Behind Trump's Hate : Frank Gaffney and his anti-Muslim cohorts laid the groundwork for Trump's rise. (Michelle Goldberg, 12/08/15, Slate)

In the past couple of years, the political influence of Frank Gaffney, who the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as "one of America's most notorious Islamophobes," appeared to be on the wane. In 2011, he was banned from the Conservative Political Action Conference after claiming that the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated the group organizing the event. The next year, Gaffney, who was advising Michele Bachmann on foreign policy, concocted a theory that the Muslim Brotherhood had penetrated the State Department via Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton's aide. When five members of Congress, including Bachmann, asked for an investigation of the conspiracy, leaders of the Republican Party, including then-House Speaker John Boehner, forcefully rebuked them. (Soon Bachmann would leave Congress, depriving Gaffney of an important political collaborator.) The most recent Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romney, largely refused to countenance Gaffney-style anti-Sharia conspiracy theories. Chris Christie smacked them down as well.

Despite the efforts of Gaffney and his allies, "Islamophobia was the dog that didn't bark in the 2012 election," says Matthew Duss, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace and Slate contributor. "But the rise of ISIS and all these spectacular, graphic attacks did what they're designed to do, which is to provoke fear and to provoke hysteria and create fertile ground for these kind of wild claims about the Islamic threat." It has given Gaffney, and the network of anti-Islam groups of which he is a central part, a new level of power and relevance.

Can Pamela Geller and Mark Krikorian be far behind?

Posted by at December 8, 2015 6:20 PM