Reps. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX), along with other members of the established anti-immigrant and the organized Islamophobia movements, will be present at next month’s David Horowitz West Coast Retreat in Palos Verdes, California.
Taking place over the weekend of February 22, the retreat is one of many events put on annually by the ultra-conservative, stridently anti-Muslim David Horowitz Freedom Center think tank. Representative Bachmann is a member of the House Immigration Reform Caucus (HIRC), the anti-immigrant coalition of U.S. House representative, as is Rep. Gohmert. Together they represent a vocal entrance point for the bigoted and conspiracy driven “Counter-Jihad Movement,” which Horowitz’s efforts are at the forefront of. HIRC is supported by The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), founded by John Tanton, which is the largest and most influential organization in the anti-immigrant movement today.
While Bachmann is the first speaker billed for the retreat in California, she will obviously not be the only HIRC member present for the weekend’s festivities.
Rep. Gohmert of Texas has been a member of Congress since 2005. Since then, he has attracted plenty of attention and scrutiny for his extremist views. Not just for his ties to white nationalist-linked HIRC. In the past, Rep. Gohmert has gone toe-to-toe with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, informing us of the threat “terror babies” pose to our security, and equated assault rifles to carpentry tools. Earlier this month, Gohmert further distanced himself from party colleagues when he voted against incumbent Speaker of the House John Boehner.
Instead, he voted for Allen West, who was no longer a House representative after losing his campaign for reelection in Florida last November.
Last Summer, Reps. Gohmert and fellow Horowitz retreater Michelle Bachmann made themselves part of an exclusive Congressional club that wrote letters seeking to investigate the Muslim Brotherhood’s presence within the United States’ government. Bachmann and Gohmert were two of only five members of Congress to sign the letters of inquiry. “The Bachmann Five’s” efforts did not gain much support from their peers. Republican colleagues even came forth to denounce their efforts. Sen. John McCain perhaps best summated the view most in Congress held:
“When anyone, not least a member of Congress, launches specious and degrading attacks against fellow Americans on the basis of nothing more than fear of who they are and ignorance of what they stand for, it defames the spirit of our nation.”
The David Horowitz Freedom Center is no stranger to anti-immigrant sentiment, either. Past events put on by the think tank have featured HIRC founder Rep. Tom Tancrecdo, and Mark Krikorian, the executive director of Center for Immigration Studies, a FAIR-affiliated group also founded by John Tanton. Retreat host David Horowitz provides a link between the anti-immigrant movement and growing Islamophobia, or the self-dubbed “Counter-Jihad,” movement, as evidenced by Gohmert and Bachmann.
Horowitz is a prolific funder of the movement. Freedom Center employee Robert Spencer, and the blog Jihad Watch, which he finances, is one of the movement’s principal platforms of influence. Spencer’s colleagues Daniel Pipes and Frank Gaffney, who Mark Krikorian recently hosted for a speaking event, have appeared at past Freedom Center events.
Naturally, Spencer will be in attendance next month.
Bachmann defender,Gaffney pal and former Rep. Andrew McCarthy will as well.
Others in attendance include Mark Tapson, Ben Shapiro, Andrew Klaven, Victor Davis Hansen, Michael Walsh and others from Horowitz’s Islamophobic, far-right FrontPage Magazine.
Bachmann and Gohmert’s past collaborations and upcoming appearance are explicit examples of the increased exposure that those on the fringe are receiving. Events such as the Freedom Center’s Retreat provide a luxurious get away for those on the fringe to foster and to grow their extreme opinions and theories alongside others cut from a similar cloth. HIRC members as well as some of Islamophobia’s most influential funders and mouthpieces will be present.. From this, we must continue to expose the increasingly legitimized extremes found in our legislatures and media. The opinions and values they espouse are not shared by most and must be confronted at every opportunity. We don’t need any more Bachmanns or Gohmerts attempting to shape our country’s future—especially on the dime of the so-called “Counter-Jihad” movement.