Former Republican Congressman and nativist crank Tom Tancredo wrote an op-ed this morning for the Daily Caller titled: "Governor Perry's Muslim blind spot." Tancredo's thesis is that Perry, currently the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, is unacceptable because he has "connections to Muslim groups in Texas" that "are well documented."
This might not sound particularly controversial to you or I, but for bigots like Tancredo a cordial relationship with the Muslim community is a deal-killer. And in marshaling evidence for his anti-Perry, anti-Muslim jeremiad, Tancredo veers into self-clowning buffoonery:
Perry's close ties to Muslim groups led the political blog Salon to headline a recent story: "Rick Perry: The pro-Sharia candidate?" Evidence in support of that theme comes from Gov. Perry's refusal to support legislation sponsored by Texas Republican legislators to outlaw Sharia law in Texas.
The title of that blog post, authored by Salon reporter Justin Elliot, was quite clearly a poke at reactionary Islamophobes like Tancredo who view anything short of outright hostility to Muslims as a de facto endorsement of Sharia law. Perry's rhetoric, Elliot wrote, "presents a stark contrast to some other members of the GOP presidential field, who have variously called for resistance to Islamic cultural conquest and outright restrictions on Muslims in public life." And, as it turns out, in the same piece Elliot noted that Perry's relationship with the Muslim community could become a target for "right-wing bomb-throwers."
And then there's the issue of the Daily Caller publishing Tancredo in the first place. He's only grown more extreme since leaving Congress, bemoaning the lack of "civics literacy tests" as a prerequisite for voting (a throwback to Jim Crow which would be very much illegal) and calling for the impeachment of President Obama over an issue that he concedes is completely false. He also famously accused Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor of membership in the "Latino KKK" (his term for the National Council of La Raza). His is a voice that doesn't merit broader dissemination.
The problem is that Tancredo's "Rick Perry doesn't hate Muslims" attack, despite its hateful incoherence, will likely have more than a few heads on the conservative right nodding in approval.