Friday, January 21, 2011

The Frank Gaffney Crazy Train

I've spent a lot of time during the past year talking about the seeming spike in Islamophobia and Islamophobic rhetoric across the country.  Much of this, naturally, has been centered on the Park51 controversy in New York, but there's also a pretty big chunk of it that's always been there.  Case in point is crack(pot) conservative commentator Frank Gaffney, who proudly brandished his anti-Muslim credentials long before it became the fashionable thing to do.

While Gaffney's been wetting himself for awhile now over the dread threat of "creeping Shariah" (a prominent meme on the right that I previously discussed here) his newest windmill to tilt at comes in the form of Suhail Khan, prominent Muslim conservative, whose current involvement with CPAC -- the Conservative Political Action Conference -- is, per Gaffney and his Rube Goldberg-esque chain of happenstance and coincidence, proof positive that the organization has been taken over by the so-called "Muslim Brotherhood."

That's right, Frank Gaffney has gone so far around the bend that he's actually put me in the position of defending CPAC.  Will wonders never cease.

As it happens, Suhail Khan is a friend of mine's brother, so I've had opportunity to speak with him at length, and while I may disagree pretty thoroughly on a wide swath of political issues, the notion of him as some kind of "radical" is so preposterous as to not even merit a response.  Still, the mere fact that someone like Khan, who served as a political appointee during the George W. Bush administration, has been swept up in the web of insinuation and paranoia that drives today's Islamophobia engine demonstrates to me yet again how thankless a job it is when you're a "Muslim Republican" (a phenomenon I previously waxed philosophic about here).

It's sad that Gaffney, whose long history of bigotry is well-documented and part of the record by now, is still considered any kind of an expert by the media, but it does speak to just how institutionalized anti-Muslim sentiment has become in certain quarters, and what a steep hill it remains to climb (made manifest in Congressman Peter King's stated plans to hold hearings on "Muslim radicalization").  Anyway, Anderson Cooper had both Gaffney and Khan appear on his CNN talker Thursday night to make their cases, and let's just say I don't see very many people buying tickets to board the Frank Gaffney crazy train after this appearance.

I've said it before and I'll say it again:  Yikes.  Just yikes.

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