If Breitbart publisher Steve Bannon was under the impression that giving anti-Muslim activists Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer and Frank Gaffney a rather public platform at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference after the organizers at the American Conservative Union banned them from direct participation would leave them feeling chastened or even grateful for the opportunity, Robert Spencer disabused him of that notion within moments of beginning his address. Rather than touching upon the nominal topic of his speech, “Why I am not a conservative,” Spencer lit straight into the exact kind of personal attacks against ACU board members Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan that not only got him banned but from which Bannon had specifically asked him to refrain.
“There’s no ‘personal attack,’” Spencer claimed after Bannon tried to steer him back to his speech topic because, he stated, he wasn’t personally acquainted with either Norquist or Khan. “What I do know is that they’re completely in bed with the same people Barack Obama is listening to to press the Muslim Brotherhood-positive foreign policy of the United States, and domestic policy as well.”
It was the sort of red meat that only about sixty percent of the once-capacity crowd had stuck around for more than an hour of painfully boring speeches to hear — and they ate it up, giving Spencer a standing ovation at the end of a short speech in which he also claimed “the United States government has sold out to the Muslim Brotherhood” and that, “This is not about me.”
Geller was next up to the microphone, which she used to claim that God himself had a hand in her being given the opportunity to speak at CPAC despite her banishment. “The media is self-enforcing the sharia,” she asserted to the audience by not giving enough coverage to what she called jihadist attacked inside the United States. But while she encouraged others to do the same, she warned them, “You are a ‘racist Islamophobic anti-Muslim bigot’ if you touch this subject.”
Despite her concerns about the “libel” of such statements about her motivations, Geller used her time to explain more about her suit against the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority, which first denied her the ability to run anti-Islam subway ads and then were forced to do so by a lawsuit she brought based on the First Amendment. “You know why I had to sue?” she asked the audience rhetorically. “Because I’m insulting the savages, that’s why,” she finished to nervous titters.
She also called out the “My Jihad” counter-campaign against her ads by the Council on American-Islamic Relations that seeks to educate Americans that “jihad” does not inherently mean religious war. “This so so bizarre and so insulting and so offensive to the intelligence of the American people,” she said, “But this is the war, you see. The war is in the information battle space. The war is in the war of ideas. And we are being completely shut out by our own,” by not being allowed to host panels on it at CPAC.
“Now, am I saying that [ACU Board Member]Suhail Khan is as bad as al-Awlaki?” she asked her audience. “He’s worse! Listen to me! He’s worse because look what he’s done to this conference. Look at the effect that they have had on this conference. That was stealth jihad, that’s what that was.”
Frank Gaffney, whose presentation was nominally about the problems with reducing America’s nuclear arsenal, used the question-and-answer session to join in the attacks on Norquist and Khan, claiming that Norquist — who is the anti-tax advocate behind Americans For Tax Reform — was the “protege” of a Muslim convicted of supporting al Qaeda and that it was at Norquist’s insistence that Karl Rove brought Khan into the White House during the Bush Administration despite the fact that Khan supposed is “a prince of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The problem with CPAC organizers not apparently aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood, according to Spencer, is that “people are very anxious not to appear bigoted and racist and so they court Muslim groups that they believe to be moderate — and I’m not saying that there are no moderate Muslims and no Muslims that don’t want to kill us, I’m very glad that there are Muslims that don’t want to kill us and I know that there are lots of them. The thing is, though, that there are many groups that are not moderate at all, that have the same goals as the al Qaeda groups and all the others that are involved in violent jihad but they are just achieving those goals by different means.”
“This is manifest and obvious in all kinds of ways,” he added. “The infiltration is very great and its very sophisticated and people for the best of intentions fall for it. We have to be more alert and more aware.”
But it was when birther Orly Taitz stood up and lectured the panelists about not allowing her and her followers to discuss Obama’s supposedly real citizenship that Geller echoed the views of more than one CPAC attendee about the whole thing: “It’s inappropriate,” she said.
Megan Carpentier is the executive editor of Raw Story. She previously served as an associate editor at Talking Points Memo; the editor of news and politics at Air America; an editor at Jezebel.com; and an associate editor at Wonkette. Her published works include pieces for the Washington Post, the Washington Independent, Ms Magazine, RH Reality Check, the Women's Media Center, On the Issues, the New York Press, Bitch and Women's eNews.
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