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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

CPAC Exposes Conservative Fault Lines

The annual Conservative Political Action Conference made headlines recently when a host of conservative groups (including the National Organization for Marriage, Concerned Women for America, and Focus on the Family) pulled out of the event in protest over the presence of the gay conservative group GOProud. This week, conservative columnist Frank Gaffney took to right-wing site World Net Daily to double down on the intolerance, with an added dash of apparent paranoia to boot. According to Gaffney, the CPAC has now been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood in the guise of ex-Bush staffer Suhail Khan and a Republican group called Muslims for America:
But in an article yesterday on World Net Daily called "Now look who else is infiltrating CPAC," Gaffney "told WND that Islamism has infiltrated the American Conservative Union, the host of CPAC, in the person of Washington attorney and political activist Suhail Khan and a group called Muslims for America."

Gaffney has been a go-to shariah "expert" on the right for some time -- he even testified against a proposed mosque project in Murfreesboro, TN, and then said on CNN that the purpose of mosques "is to destroy western civilization from within."

What's going on in conservative circles should give everyone real cause for concern," Gaffney told World Net Daily. "What it bespeaks is an effort to penetrate and influence conservatives, who are the most likely and perhaps only community in America who will stand up to and ultimately help ensure the defeat of this seditious totalitarian political program."
I’m not sure that conservatives need much more help alienating the Muslim community in the United States after last year’s ginned-up controversy over the construction of the Park51 community center in Manhattan (not to mention their protests over proposed mosques in Tennessee, Michigan, and California), but if they did, referring to Islam as a “seditious totalitarian political program” seems like a very effective way to go about it.

These sorts of fissures in the conservative movement represent an important strategic opportunity for progressives. As explained in a previous post, the obsession with homogeneity and internal purity represents one of the primary weaknesses of the contemporary conservative movement. As the conservative movement drifts closer and closer toward embracing outright bigotry as a platform, they have become increasingly willing to jettison even those groups who share many of the same economic and social values, but who deviate from the conservative norm in other respects (be it race, sexuality, religion, etc). Progressives should be trumpeting these exclusionary trends from the rooftops: if you’re not a white, heterosexual Christian, you are not welcome in the modern conservative movement.

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