It is no secret that Islamophobia has been widely prevalent in the conservative movement, particular since President Obama took office. From Reps. Peter King (R-NY) and Allen West (R-FL) to Newt Gingrich and those hyperventilating against the Islamic community center near Ground Zero, the right is promoting a baseless and irrational fear about Muslim participation in American civil society.
Frank Gaffney is one of the right’s main proponents of anti-Muslim fearmongering. He recently claimed that conservatives are being infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood and “radical Islamists,” and he recently attacked Americans for Tax Reform leader Grover Norquist for “credentialing the perpetrators of this Muslim Brotherhood influence operation” at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC.
At CPAC yesterday, ThinkProgress caught up with Norquist — whose wife is Muslim — and asked him to respond to Gaffney and the general Muslim fearmongering from the right. “It’s very important to recognize that each of these faiths is completely consistent with the U.S. Constitution and a free and open society,” Norquist said, adding it’s also important “for the conservative movement to have many doors open.” He said that the right has to “marginalize” Islamophobia within its ranks and “knock that stuff down and just make it clear that there’s no place for that in the party of Reagan.” Referring to Gingrich’s anti-Muslim fervor, ThinkProgress asked whether there is a place for Islamophobia in the GOP 2012 presidential primaries. “I don’t think there is,” Norquist replied:
TP: This sort of fearmongering about Islam. I don’t think Gingrich has gone as far as Gaffney has but he’s kind of right there. He’s near that edge and I’m wondering do you think there’s room for that on the presidential campaign.
NORQUIST: I don’t think there is. I don’t think you’ll see it because the people who support you is broader. … . I don’t think that it will work because it doesn’t work. I think it will go away because it doesn’t work. I would like it to go away because it’s the wrong thing to do. But I’ll take it doesn’t work.
Also during the interview, Norquist praised Democrats for their ability to be an inclusive party. “Democrats have doing it with the mosque in Iowa forever. They just have this natural understanding of, ‘Oh there’s a mosque? Let’s go!’ … You know there’s an incredible understanding of diversity [within the Party].” Listen to the interview: