Trump attracting the support of these groups is not happenstance. Not only has he served up harsh, hateful rhetoric about immigrants, but Trump has courted nativist groups when he retweeted a person urging him to “Get to the WHITE House” (caps in the original), and in July when he tweeted a photo featuring Nazi imagery along with the hashtag, “#MakeAmericaGreatAgain.” (Trump’s campaign blamed an intern for the Nazi image.)
Despite attracting the support of these hate groups, Trump has not as of yet attended an event sponsored by one. But that will all change on September 9. That’s the day Trump, along with Ted Cruz, is scheduled to speak at anti Iran deal rally in Washington, D.C., co-sponsored by three groups that have a long stoked hate versus Muslims: The Center for Security Policy, Tea Party Patriots, and the Zionist Organization of America. The worst of the three, by far, is Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy.
Just so it’s absolutely clear, I have zero problem with Trump opposing the Iran deal. I, too, have concerns about the proposed agreement. The issue is why would the leading GOP presidential candidate join forces with these three organizations, especially Gaffney’s?
For those unaware, let me give you a quick primer on Gaffney and his jihad against Muslims. Gaffney is not a run-of-the-mill Muslim hater. As the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that has been tracking hate groups since the 1970s, notes, Gaffney is “one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes.” That’s pretty impressive considering the number of people engaged in anti-Muslim bigotry in America today.
Gaffney, who the SPLC notes was “once a respectable Washington insider,” has served up some of the most toxic crap toward Muslims. Gaffney was the person behind Michele Bachmann’s outlandish claims in 2012 that there had been “deep penetration in the halls of our United States government by the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Gaffney himself has claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated every part of the “U.S. government and civil institutions.” Gaffney even publicly praised the House Un-American Activities Committee and called for Congress “to establish a new and improved counterpart” to root our Muslims in our government who are not loyal to our country.
And the SPLC is far from the only group that has denounced Gaffney. The Anti-Defamation League, on its page dedicated to the leaders of anti-Muslim bigotry movement, note that Gaffney “pioneered the anti Shariah hysteria by publishing materials regarding the threat of an Islamic takeover of the U.S.”
Even prominent conservatives have denounced Gaffney’s extremism. CPAC banned Gaffney beginning in 2011 for his baseless attacks on not just Muslims in general, but even on fellow conservatives who Gaffney claimed had ties to Islamic radicals. One of Gaffney’s most vile attacks was on Grover Norquist. Is Norquist Muslim? No, but his wife is and that was too much for Gaffney. Consequently, he wanted Norquist banned from conservative events.
The other two groups co-sponsoring the anti-Iran deal rally, the Zionist of America (ZOA) and Tea Party Patriots (TPP) also have a troubling record.
As the SPLC notes, the TPP’s membership “includes militia members and racists.” The TPP has hosted the anti-Muslim leader Pam Geller at their events. And disturbingly some of its chapters have worked with anti-Semites and anti-immigrant hate groups. In fact, TPP’s Arizona chapter has “promoted tours of the Arizona/Mexico border by nativist and anti-Semite Glenn Spencer, who runs the hate group American Border Patrol.”
And the ZOA has decried the term “lslamophobia,” writing on its website that the fear of Muslims is not an “irrational fear of an imaginary threat, which is what the word ‘phobia’ denotes.” Rather, ZOA argues it’s justifiable given the acts of terror carried out by Muslims.
Do I think that documenting the hateful history of the groups co-sponsoring the rally will sway Trump to cancel? Of course not. In fact, I bet if you asked Trump about Muslims, he would say “I love the Muslims,” just like he “loves Latinos,” while inciting hate against their entire community with his fear mongering.
But the GOP frontrunner appears to be moving from simply having hate groups support him to attending events sponsored by them. True, we saw that before when Steve Scalise, the third-ranking member in the Republican House leadership, attended a white supremacist meeting in 2002. But at least Scalise publicly apologized for his appearance and stated clearly he rejects the organization’s racist ideology.
Don’t expect the same from Trump. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if before this campaign is over that Trump attends even more events organized by hate groups in his desperate effort to “Get to the WHITE House.”