Republican presidential contender and retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson has called for a federal investigation of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for ties to terrorist groups.
According to the New York Times, Carson unveiled a seven-point anti-terrorism plan this week ahead of Tuesday night’s televised debate between the Republican candidates in Las Vegas.
“The Department of State should designate the Muslim Brotherhood and other organizations that propagate or support Islamic terrorism as terrorist organizations, and fully investigate the Council on American-Islamic Relations as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and a supporter of terrorism,” said Carson’s proposal.
CAIR has long been a popular right-wing bogeyman, in spite of the group’s long-stated stance against Islamic extremism. The group even has a web page expressly devoted to debunking accusations that it is tied to terror groups.
Alan Rappaport of the Times said, “Representatives for council, or CAIR, said this is the first time this election cycle that a candidate has accused the organization of being affiliated with terrorist groups. CAIR was investigated in the past for having ties to terrorists and the Department of Justice opted against prosecuting the group or its leaders.”
Carson’s plan calls for a federal declaration of war against the Islamic State, as well as the mobilization of the U.S. military to the Middle East and a “war-time emergency” policy halting immigration and setting up stringent new visa requirements for foreign visitors. Carson also intends to “immediately deploy the National Guard and military troops to patrol the U.S. southern border as well as designated spots along the northern border.”
In a Monday op ed column for the conservative Washington Times, Carson wrote, “The reason we call certain things ideals — liberty, equality and brotherhood, for example — is not because it is easy to exemplify them, but because it is challenging to do so when confronted by fear and uncertainty. But the ability to strive towards these ideals in the face of difficulties is what separates a civilization founded upon enlightenment era philosophy and Judeo-Christian values from almost every other culture on earth.”
He continued, “We should not seek to suppress the instincts of fear that Donald Trump and so many others feel when seeing a person who appears to be a Muslim. As we know, fear can often be a gift. But we have to acknowledge our biases and create safe spaces to speak about them openly. That is what is so dangerous about political correctness — it prevents us from having open and frank discussions.”
Anti-Muslim animus has surged in the U.S. as rhetoric in the race for the Republican nomination has heated up. Carson suggested that no Muslim person is fit to serve as president of this country, drawing fire from critics.
However, it was Donald Trump’s statements about banning all Muslims from entering the U.S. in the wake of recent terror attacks that appear to have ramped up acts of harassment, vandalism and intimidation against Muslims nationally.
Carson enjoyed a brief surge in electoral polls earlier in the campaign cycle, but inconsistencies in his retelling of his life story and other missteps have cost him. Former reality TV star and businessman Trump continues to enjoy a commanding lead over all other Republican candidates, hitting new highs in recent polls.