Anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney is at it again.
Along with Breitbart News and EMPact America, Gaffney has organized the “National Security Action Summit II” in Washington, D.C., today. The day will kick off with a screening of far-Right commentator (and election law violator) Dinesh D’Souza’s latest film, America: Imagine a World Without Her, which takes on a right-wing — or wing-nut — slant on American history. The rest of the day will feature a lineup of conservative and far-Right figures to discuss “the growing threats facing our nation.”
Based on the list of guest speakers, as well as the agenda, immigrants and Muslims will be cast among these “threats.”
“We have to have security against both the dishwasher and the terrorist because you can’t distinguish between the two with regards to immigration control,” Krikorian claimed.
Joining Gaffney at today’s event will be Mark Krikorian, executive director of the anti-immigrant think tank Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). Gaffney, Krikorian and several of the other panelists have been increasingly pushed out of official conservative events because of their extreme stances, but that hasn’t stopped them from working together.
In his own words, Gaffney has previously revealed that he has “had a chance to work with Mark and his team a lot.” Krikorian and Gaffney’s working relationship was made more apparent last summer when emails obtained by Mother Jones revealed that Krikorian and Gaffney were both involved in the far-Right messaging group “Groundswell.” Other Groundswell members speaking at Gaffney’s event today include former Vice President Dick Cheney, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton and former Congressman Allen West.
Among Gaffney’s regular conspiratorial allegations is that the Muslim Brotherhood is quietly influencing the U.S. government and poses a mortal threat from within, an assertion likely to arise at the event. Summit participants are also expected to latch onto a new report CIS published last Thursday on immigrant population demographics in the United States. Some on the far-Right used the report to stoke fear of Muslims with headlines proclaiming, “Nearly 2.5 Million Immigrants From ‘Predominately Muslim Countries’ Reside Inside U.S. Right Now,” as Breitbart News’ Matthew Boyle — another Groundswell member — did upon its release.
Today’s summit is the latest in a series of events that began with panel organized by Breitbart News at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) tilted, “The Uninvited: A Session of Controversial Speakers and Topics.” Speakers at the inaugural “Uninvited” event had been previously ostracized in conservative circles and were denied the ability to speak on any official CPAC panels. These speakers included Gaffney, the virulently anti-Muslim bloggers Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, and Rosemary Jenks of the influential anti-immigrant organization NumbersUSA.
Gaffney and Jenks also participated in the second “Uninvited” event last March that occurred off-site from CPAC 2014 at a nearby hotel. That event was simultaneously billed as “The Uninvited II” and the debut “National Security Action Summit.” While organizers have changed the name, the fact that the individuals participating in this event have been largely shunned from many other forums on politics and policy remains.
Participants’ respective histories include years of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim activism, suggesting that today’s event will veer into bigoted territory. Their recent activity affirms little has changed from similar events held previously. Breitbart News has been regularly publishing articles stoking nativist sentiments by claiming that members of the so-called Islamic State group are planning to enter the U.S. through the southern border. Mark Krikorian similarly conflated national security and immigration concerns while appearing on the August 28 episode of Frank Gaffney’s radio show. “We have to have security against both the dishwasher and the terrorist because you can’t distinguish between the two with regards to immigration control,” Krikorian claimed.
The dynamics of national security and foreign policy are invariably complex. Nativists like Krikorian and Gaffney seemingly have no issue with simplifying these complexities in order to marginalize and to stoke fears regarding entire communities.
There is a reason that the organizers of today’s summit have been pushed out of more respected circles. By preying on Americans’ anxieties surrounding terrorism, those participating in today’s National Security Action Summit are disingenuously using valid concerns about national security to advance a discriminatory agenda being peddled by leaders of organized bigotry.