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.”

Eli Clifton

Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. He is a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Eli previously reported for the American Independent News Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.



  1. You’re asking me to defend a point I didn’t make. Discrimination against Muslims in France or the USA or even in Palestine doesn’t justify the murder of Van Gogh or the people at Fort Hood.

    Muslim claims that, for example, a Danish cartoonist cannot portray the Prophet in a Danish newspaper, or that Rushdie cannot write about Muhammed in a work of fiction, must be rejected, and rejected absolutely. I wouldn’t put up with Christians telling me I can’t make fun of J.C.; similarly I won’t accept Muslim intimidation. In a Muslim land I’ll behave myself and respect the customs, but don’t tell a Muslim can come here and give me the choice: give up free speech or die. That’s a threat and an invitation to bloodshed.

  2. Jon, why would you insult the prophet? Just to pick a sensitive spot that will get you nothing but Ire? Those Cartoons were published essentially by Daniel Pipes–think this was a free speech project or an attempt to incite.

    What claim based on scripture, or even hearsay would you like to discuss about the prophet? There is an account in the Quran that Mohammad killed 300 Jews. I’ve seen interfaith discussions on this topic. Muslims are encouraged to discuss and debate faith issues in full earnestness.

    Are Jews willing to do this? Christians? Really? Where is the discussion over the validity of the Trinity. The Trinity is the greatest heresy perpetrated on the Christian people by an Algerian with far too secular interests. Look how everyone fell in lockstep with the Bush admin on WMD. When the emperor decrees it, many believe it.

    So, most Christians believe in the Trinity, which is no where suggested in the Old Testament, not clearly advocated for in the testimony of Jesus, nor in any other passage of the Bible. Yet, this is not a topic that open for discussion.

    To the contrary, it is considered very rude, and nearly incitement to discuss religion or politics in public. How dare you Jon, point your finger at the hyper sensitivity of an aggrieved minority while the safe majority won’t allow discussion of Middle East policy, candor regarding their own faith?

    I agree we should all be free to discuss whatever wickedness the mind can conceive. Islam has done a better job of protecting Mohammad’s humanity (by banning images) than Christianity, Buddhism or many other traditions that deify their leaders. (Anthropomorphizing God is perhaps the most common heresy the world over, Islam has the most advanced ontology as per the scriptures. This is why Islam doesn’t need a reformation, as they never buried their heads in the sand regarding science or technology.)

    Muslims are freer than Christians, want proof? Ask the GOP how old the Earth is and ask the Muslim cleric of your choice the same question. The Muslim will at least suggest it’s over 1 million years old, few Republican would go on record with such a statement.

  3. There you go again, missing my point completely. I stand for complete separation between chuch and state, AND church and speech. It doesn’t matter what is said about Moses, Jesus, or Muhammed, or who says it. Where I come from speech is supposed to be FREE. One cannot libel the dead, even dead prophets.

    If people in other lands want to believe differently, that’s their affair. As I said, I wouldn’t travel to a Muslim country and insult Muhammed, or disparage the custums of the place. That would be discourteous. But don’t tell me I can’t say any goddamn thing I please about Christianity of Judaism or Islam (or Jesus or Moses or Muhammed) when I’m in my own country.

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