Frank Gaffney says allowing transgender troops to serve openly is "at its core a wrecking operation run against the United States military"
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The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has rescinded the speaking offer its leadership made to former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, who has a history of bigotry, following the circulation of a video in which Yiannopoulos appeared to endorse pedophilia. Yet Yiannopoulos isn’t the only person scheduled to speak at the 2017 CPAC who has a history of making offensive remarks; the conference’s roster is full of speakers who push xenophobic or otherwise discriminatory agendas and action and buy into conspiracy theories.
Just a few days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning U.S. entry for refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries, CNN and Fox News both hosted anti-immigrant extremists or members of designated hate groups to discuss the president’s move, effectively legitimizing and normalizing these groups. Neither CNN nor Fox correctly labeled any of the guests as belonging to groups that pursue fiercely anti-Muslim, anti-refugee agendas.
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Center For Security Policy’s Frank Gaffney Reportedly Advising Trump’s Transition Team On National Security Issues
Anti-Muslim hate group leader Frank Gaffney is reportedly giving President-elect Donald Trump national security advice for his transition to the White House. Gaffney has a long history of vile statements about Muslims, has embraced white nationalists, flirted with birtherism, and has stridently opposed allowing LGBTQ Americans to openly serve in the military.
Hate Group Leader Gaffney To Jared Taylor: “I Appreciate Tremendously The Work You're Doing"
Frank Gaffney, who is reportedly advising President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, previously praised and promoted the "wonderful" work of leading white nationalist Jared Taylor. Gaffney later retracted the adulation after criticism.
Trump’s presidential transition period has already been marred by ties to white nationalism. He appointed Stephen Bannon, who has a history of pushing anti-Semitism and white nationalist “alt-right” views, to a senior White House position. Trump's entrance into politics has energized and emboldened the white nationalist movement.
Gaffney is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy, which has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Gaffney has questioned President Obama's birth certificate; was banned from the Conservative Political Action Conference after accusing prominent conservatives of somehow being Muslim Brotherhood operatives; and has been described by SPLC as "one of America's most notorious Islamophobes." Media Matters and a coalition of civil rights groups last month released a report documenting anti-Muslim extremists who regularly appear in the media, including Gaffney, and called on the media to hold them accountable for their rhetoric.
Gaffney hosted Jared Taylor on the September 29, 2015, edition of his Secure Freedom Radio program. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which first noted Taylor's appearance, wrote that Taylor is one of the country's "most outspoken and prominent white nationalists." The non-profit group explained that Taylor hosts a conference "where racist intellectuals rub shoulders with Klansmen, neo-Nazis and other white supremacists" and "founded the New Century Foundation, a pseudo-intellectual think tank that promotes 'research' arguing for white superiority."
As Media Matters previously documented, Gaffney introduced Taylor by saying, "I'm very pleased to have him with us. He is the editor of a wonderful online publication, American Renaissance ... and the author of six books, including White Identity." SPLC wrote that American Renaissance "has been one of the vilest white nationalist publications, often promoting eugenics and blatant anti-black and anti-Latino racists. In 2005 for example, after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Taylor wrote, 'When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western Civilization -- any kind of civilization -- disappears.'"
The Anti-Defamation League wrote that Taylor "upholds racial homogeneity as the key to fostering peaceful coexistence," and they called American Renaissance a "white supremacist journal."
During the interview, Gaffney and Taylor attacked the "invasion" of Muslim refugees worldwide. Gaffney warned about the alleged dangers of Muslim refugees regarding violence and Sharia law, and later suggested such problems could come to the United States "if President Obama has his way.”
Gaffney concluded by telling Taylor: "I appreciate tremendously the work you're doing at American Renaissance and The New Century Foundation. Keep it up and get back to us again very soon."
Following the controversy, the Center for Security Policy posted a statement on its website claiming Gaffney "strongly disagrees" with "much" of the American Renaissance website and "Had due diligence been done beforehand, such disagreements would have resulted in Mr. Taylor not being invited on the show, routine compliments to such guests not made and an offer to appear again not extended."
The Southern Poverty Law Center noted that Gaffney’s backtracking rang hollow since he “wasn’t repulsed by Taylor’s views and complimented American Renaissance [during the interview]. That's not surprising given Gaffney's own comments.”
UPDATE: Trump spokesman Jason Miller has claimed that Gaffney is not advising the transition team. NBC News reported that though the Trump camp has "denied that Gaffney is advising the team, a source close to Gaffney said while he's not formally involved, he ‘has advised them on nominees and policy through [former UN Ambassador John] Bolton and [Ret. Gen. Mike] Flynn,’ both advisers to Trump's transition.” Gaffney reportedly released a statement that he “had not been contacted by anyone from the team and appreciate the campaign's clarification today.” He added, "I look forward to helping President-elect & the national security-minded team he is assembling in whatever way I can."
Media Matters partnered with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Center for New Community, and ReThink Media to release a journalist's guide to the network of anti-Muslim activists and surrogates spreading vitriolic rhetoric in the media and the best practices for countering these extremists’ misinformation.
The report “profiles 15 prominent anti-Muslim extremists, many of whom are associated with organizations identified by the SPLC as hate groups,” who appear frequently in the media, “where they spread falsehoods that too often go untested.” Citing the “baseless” propaganda produced by these extremists who “have shamelessly exploited terrorist attacks and the Syrian refugee crisis, among other things, to demonize the entire Islamic faith,” the full report details the way television news networks and leading newspapers have allowed these extremists to “routinely espouse a wide range of utter falsehoods” about Muslims without providing any pushback. The report contends that the media have enabled these extremists to vilify American Muslims by accusing them of conspiring to “impose Shariah religious law,” thereby creating a false impression of the community and resulting in “hundreds of violent hate crime attacks” against them. From the October 26 report:
Ever since the Al Qaeda massacre of Sept. 11, 2001, American Muslims have been under attack. They have been vilified as murderers, accused of conspiring to take over the United States and impose Shariah religious law, described as enemies of women, and subjected to hundreds of violent hate crime attacks. A major party presidential nominee has even suggested that America ban Muslim immigrants.
Fueling this hatred has been the propaganda, the vast majority of it completely baseless, produced and popularized by a network of anti-Muslim extremists and their enablers. These men and women have shamelessly exploited terrorist attacks and the Syrian refugee crisis, among other things, to demonize the entire Islamic faith.
Sadly, a shocking number of these extremists are seen regularly on television news programs and quoted in the pages of our leading newspapers. There, they routinely espouse a wide range of utter falsehoods, all designed to make Muslims appear as bloodthirsty terrorists or people intent on undermining American constitutional freedoms. More often than not, these claims go uncontested.
This misinformation and hateful rhetoric have consequences. When huge numbers of Americans believe that a majority of Muslims are terrorists or terrorist sympathizers, it can hardly be a surprise that some percentage of them engage in hate crime attacks. After all, they learned of the threat they believe Muslims pose from sources who were presented by the media as authoritative experts.
This country faces an array of complex and daunting problems, the threat of terrorism indisputably among them. Let’s not make them worse by allowing self-described “experts” to propagandize our fellow Americans with defamatory and frightening falsehoods. Our media, in particular, has the opportunity to present an objective picture that illuminates, rather than distorts, reality.
The 15 anti-Muslim extremists profiled in the report are Ann Corcoran, Steven Emerson, Brigitte Gabriel, Frank Gaffney Jr., Pamela Geller, John Guandolo, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, David Horowitz, Ryan Mauro, Robert Muise, Maajid Nawaz, Daniel Pipes, Walid Shoebat, Robert Spencer, and David Yerushalmi. The report lists various false and extreme claims from the extremists and calls on the media to stop presenting the extremists as “authoritative experts” and allowing them to “propagandize our fellow Americans with defamatory and frightening falsehoods”:
The anti-Muslim extremists profiled here have, between them, claimed that Islamic extremists have infiltrated the CIA, FBI, Pentagon and other agencies; asserted that there are “no-go zones” in Europe where non-Muslims including police are afraid to enter; suggested that there is a Muslim plot to impose Sharia religious law on U.S. courts; and claimed that President Obama is a secret Muslim. These claims, along with many others, have been shown conclusively to be false.
According to the report, the media coverage of and interviews with these anti-Muslim extremists fail to contextualize their “defamatory and false rhetoric and their hate group associations” and thus don't tell their audiences that these extremists “are far outside the mainstream, and that their factual assertions are very often completely baseless.” The report includes best practices for media, noting that “too often, television networks, newspapers and other media organizations turn to these groups’ spokespeople as credible sources on national security, immigration and religious liberty, and valid counterpoints to real issue experts.”
The report’s best practices include:
Research the background of extremist spokespeople and consider other sources.
If you do use anti-Muslim spokespeople, point out their extremism.
Prepare to challenge hateful rhetoric and misinformation.
Don’t rely on opposing guests to challenge extremists.
Former Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann is now advising Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, adding to the list of Trump influencers who have peddled the right-wing media conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin is a “Muslim Brotherhood” operative. Bachmann, who formally requested a federal investigation into Abedin and others in the federal government, joins conspiracy theory-spouting Trump associates Stephen Bannon, Sean Hannity, and Roger Stone.
Stephen Bannon, newly appointed CEO of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign, spent the last two months using his daily Breitbart News radio show to project an imaginary map of conspiracies that link the Muslim Brotherhood to Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine, Huma Abedin, and Obama White House officials.
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Frank Gaffney, the head of the Center for Security Policy (CSP), is reportedly a member of GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) national security advisory team. The Southern Poverty Law Center has termed CSP an anti-Muslim hate group, and Gaffney has a history of pushing bigoted anti-Muslim smears and conspiracy theories.
As President Obama reportedly prepares to announce Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, media should be prepared to hear from several right-wing groups dedicated to opposing the nominee, no matter who it is. These advocacy groups and right-wing media outlets have a history of pushing misleading information and alarmist rhetoric to launch smear campaigns against Obama's highly qualified Supreme Court nominees, using tactics including, but not limited to, spreading offensive rumors about a nominee's personal life, deploying bogus legal arguments or conspiracy theories, and launching wild distortions of every aspect of a nominee's legal career.
Republican presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz and Dr. Ben Carson are scheduled to attend the National Religious Broadcasters' "Proclaim 16" Convention, which will run from February 23 to 26 in Nashville, TN. The annual convention has a history of anti-LGBT and anti-Muslim content, and this year convention will feature three anti-LGBT hate groups, a panel sponsored by the Islamophobic extremist organization behind Trump's proposed Muslim ban, and multiple notoriously anti-gay extremist speakers.