Politico reports this morning that some Congressional Republicans are cool to Rep. Peter King’s “radicalization of Islam” hearings. The leadership is split, with Majority Leader Eric Cantor backing him and Speaker John Boehner and Whip Kevin McCarthy not so keen.
Let’s be honest, though: this is really about distractions from a legislative agenda more than it is real discomfort with a religiously-motivated witchhunt. If Boehner and McCarthy were genuinely worried about actual Islamophobia in the GOP, as opposed to it being a distraction from their legislative agenda, wouldn’t you expect them to say so? (Don’t answer that question.)
Sure, from a daily political tug-of-war story, the talking point is that the Republicans are “divided.” But the reality is that any division isn’t sufficient motivation for most Republicans to come out and condemn the racism and xenophobia in their ranks and in their base.
In the Times, Laurie Goodstein has a profile of Brigitte Gabriel and her popularity with tea partiers. Ben Smith and Byron Tau have another piece in Politico discussing how Gabriel and her American Congress for Truth plan to set up a PAC or a 527 organization to pump money into the 2012 election. If that happens, how many Republicans would turn down its money?
I first saw Gabriel, who immigrated from Lebanon, and is Christian, speak in 2007, at John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church in San Antonio. I reported in my book, God’s Profits:
Gabriel, author of the book Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America, attempts to draw parallels between her experience in Lebanon and an Islamic threat to American democracy. When Muslims became a majority in Lebanon (“they multiply much more quickly than we do”), [Gabriel claimed] Christians were “attacked for tolerance, open-mindedness, and multiculturalism.” (At the same time, Gabriel derides “political correctness” as ignorant and dangerous.) Gabriel added that “because we are Christians, Muslims want to kill us.” . . . .
The founding principles of ACT sounds like a Rush Limbaugh playbook, as the organization aims to “give Americans their voice back. That unique American voice, full of joy and anticipation and better days and and infinite aspirations . . . muted by the scourge of political correctnes. We are now a society neutered by this scourge, . . . unable to act or speak for fear of offending, or of lawsuits, or of accusations of one-sided political views. Millions either do not realize, or deny the threat of militant Islam to America, Israel, and all of Western civilization.”
Gabriel once said that America’s “immigration problem” will cause its “fall to radical Islamic forces.” She said, “Not only are we inviting our enemy in, but this enemy is coming into the United States, marrying American citizens who are Muslims who are sympathizers of Hezbollah terroriss, and producing more children.”
One of ACT! for America’s chapter heads in Texas, Dorrie O’Brien, is a Texas Republican Party delegate who was instrumental in getting a sponsor in the state Senate for an anti-shari’ah bill, as well as a plank in the party’s 2010 platform urging Congress and the Texas legislature to ban shari’ah law, “which is not in accordance with the Constitutions of Texas or of the United States of America.” The Republican Jewish Coalition, which helped distribute the anti-Islam film Obsession, in which Gabriel appears, has called O’Brien “one of the leading civilian fighters against the Muslim Brotherhood’s global expansion and infiltration in the U.S.”
There’s a difference between being “divided” on a political strategy (whether or not to hold hearings at a particular time) and being divided about a fundamental, xenophobic motivating force in your party’s apparatus and base. And if Republicans are discontented about that, they have yet to say anything about it.