Last summer, anti-Muslim activists Pamela Geller and Center for Security Policy President Frank Gaffney launched a smear campaign against Muslim GOP candidate David Ramadan who was running for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Ramadan won the race but he and his defenders faced an onslaught of accusations that Ramadan’s candidacy was a form of “stealth Jihad.” Gaffney held a press conference with the McCarthyesque topic of “explor[ing] what is known — and as yet unknown — about Mr. Ramadan’s character and caliber.”
The fear-mongering against Ramadan grew so vociferous that Edwin Meese, former Reagan administration Attorney General and Ronald Reagan Chair in Public Policy at the Heritage Foundation, became a target of Geller and Gaffney’s campaign after he endorsed Ramadan. Geller wrote:
James Lafferty, SIOA board member and VAST [Virginia Anti-Shariah Task Force] chairman, just advised me that Ed Meese bought into stealth jihadist David Ramadan’s ruse. That’s just what this country needs, more Muslim Brotherhood plants in the legislature.
And Gaffney, Geller, and Islamophobic blogger Robert Spencer — all of whom are featured in the Center for American Progress’s report, “Fear Inc.: The Roots Of the Islamophobia Network” — issued a letter to Meese, demanding he withdraw his endorsement.
Yesterday, Meese explained to NewsMax TV why he chose to endorse Ramadan and how the hate campaign against Muslims goes against American values. Meese says he supported Ramadan because he’s a “fine man” who “thought very much in terms of political lines the same way I do.” Watch it:
Gaffney, Geller, Spencer and others’ attacks on Ramadan didn’t deter Meese because he saw them as a “fringe group” accusing Ramadan of “…not being totally an American or being an Islamist or somehow not being worthy of running for office.” The attacks strengthened Meese’s conviction in helping Ramadan’s candidacy. “I felt that this was an unfair attack and persisted in my support of him because of that,” said Meese.
Meese says his exposure to the “fringe group” that attacked Ramadan concerns him because “I think it’s always serious when any American is disparaged […] solely because of their religion or their background when there’s no basis for it.”
It’s heartening to see conservatives begin to speak out against the forces of intolerance within their camp; hopefully, Meese will find more allies than opponents among fellow Republicans.