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Published on February 19th, 2010 | by Eli Clifton


CPAC’s Third Rail

Much has been made of the divisive messages emerging from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which continues through Saturday, but an event–Jihad: The Political Third Rail—co-sponsored this morning at CPAC by the Freedom Defense Initiative brought a panel together who have a number of shady connections to a Nazi sympathizing political party in Belgium and histories of extremely Islamophobic rhetoric.

The event  hosted by bloggers Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer included a lineup of bloggers, activists and an aspiring politician with a history of mistreating detainees in Iraq.

Topics covered by the group included a predictable list of hysterical warnings about “creeping Shariah”, “lawfare”, and the impending “Islamization” of the US.  For anyone who regularly reads Pamela Geller or Robert Spencer’s blogs (I’ve mentioned them here, here and here) it was the usual set of Islamophobic rhetoric cloaked in selective quotations from the Koran.

Spencer and Geller were in top form today with Spencer setting off a hearty round of applause by pointing out that complaints that full body scanning technology at airports violate the modesty of Muslim women is a “perversity” because, “Muslims themselves made the scanners necessary!”

But what really made this panel remarkable was that four of the groups’ eight speakers had either attended or were otherwise connected to the CounterJihad Europa 2007 conference in Brussels.  This conference has received a great deal of attention because of its Nazi sympathizing hosts—Vlaams Belang—and the feud which erupted between Charles Johnson and fellow bloggers Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer when he called them out for associating with Nazi apologists.

(The New York Times wrote about Johnson and the feud last month.)

Of the participants on the panel today, Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer and Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff—an Austrian anti-Muslim activist who is facing hate crime charges—had speaking roles at the conference and are listed on the CounterJihad Europa 2007 website.

Although not listed on the CounterJihad Europa 2007 website, Spinwatch provides quotes from Anders Gravers, another participant in today’s panel, delivered at the Brussels conference.

Gravers is the founder of Stop the Islamisation of Europe (SIOE) and goes much further than many “anti-Jihad” activists in asserting that moderate Muslims do not exist.

In a statement posted on the Family Security Matters website, Gravers clarified the SIOE’s beliefs on moderate Muslims.

“We do not believe in moderate Muslims. We believe there are Muslims and those who want to leave Islam. Some Muslims are more active than others, but all Muslims want sharia law and Islam to rule the world. Moderate Muslims are those who watch non-Muslims being killed, but still say Allah u Akbar when the killing is happening.

Therefore, we obviously oppose Islamists because Islamists are merely Muslims, and Muslims are Islamists.

We oppose immigration from Muslim countries.”

The crowd appeared to like Gravers stories from the front-lines of the “Islamisation of Europe” and gave him a big round of applause when he announced his group’s success in preventing the construction of five mosques in England.

CPAC is typically seen as representative of the right-wing of the Republican party but the extremism and Islamophobia (and general xenophobia) presented by this panel still seemed to go beyond what CPAC’s organizers would want to associate themselves with.

Allen West, who is running for Congress in Florida’s 22nd congressional district, was undeterred from the political hot potato presented by a group of bloggers and activists who had rubbed shoulders with Nazi sympathizers in Belgium and have made careers from making generalizations about Islam.

West, who spoke last, might be the future of the Republican party if this panel was any indication of who the Republicans now consider part of their big tent.

He garnered huge applause for his denunciation of political correctness and the unwillingness of leadership–Republican or Democrat–to acknowledge the existential battle which the US is fighting against Islam.

West referred to the current execution of the War on Terror and attempts to accommodate Muslims in society as “politically correct multiculturalism on steroids.”

“We are in a war against a political, theocratic, authoritarian ideology and it is called Islam!” said West.

According to CNN, West admitted that as a Lieutenant Colonel serving in Iraq he used improper interrogation methods to get information from a detainee.

From CNN:

“In testimony at an Article 32 hearing — the military’s version of a grand jury or preliminary hearing — West said the policeman, Yahya Jhrodi Hamoody, was not cooperating with interrogators, so he watched four of his soldiers from the 220th Field Artillery Battalion beat the detainee on the head and body.

West said he also threatened to kill Hamoody. Military prosecutors say West followed up on that threat by taking the suspect outside, put him on the ground near a weapons clearing barrel and fired his 9 mm pistol into the barrel.”

About the Author


Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. Eli previously reported for the American Independent New Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.

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