During the heady days of summer 2010, inveterate Islamophobe and erstwhile Sharia "expert" Frank Gaffney managed to briefly hit the mainstream in conservative circles with his cottage industry of anti-Muslim misinformation. As one of the ringleaders of the ginned-up controversy over the Park51 community center (or, the non-Ground Zero non-mosque), Gaffney enjoyed unprecedented airtime and influence, and the anti-Sharia sentiment he helped muster has resulted in legislation targeting Sharia law in over a dozen states.
But with the advent of a new election cycle and the increasing relegation of the "creeping threat of Sharia law" to whatever dusty bin houses history's most dangerous non-issues (move over Y2K), it appears Frank Gaffney's political clout is on the wane.
Gaffney barely made a ripple a few weeks ago when his Center for Security Policy released it's "Peace Through Strength" platform, a twelve-point pledge for 2012 GOP Presidential hopefuls that includes a section on the importance of resisting "the brutally repressive, anti-constitutional doctrine called "shariah.""
Here's the text for the anti-Sharia portion of Gaffney's "Twelve for '12" platform, via Think Progress:
Now, three weeks after the introduction of his new policy platform, Gaffney has not received a single endorsement from the 2012 GOP hopefuls. Think Progress's Scott Keyes attributes the wide berth Gaffney is receiving from candidates not only to Gaffney's own penchant for lunacy (like his claim that the Missile Defense Agency logo incorporates the Islamic crescent), but to the fallout earlier this summer from Herman Cain's repeated claims that he would not appoint a Muslim to his cabinet or to positions as federal judges. Keyes notes that the public outcry over Cain's claims eventually forced the recent Florida straw poll winner to issue a public apology to Muslim Americans.
As recently as this summer, prospective GOP candidates - most notably Cain and Newt Gingrich - seemed to find a sufficient degree of political expediency in anti-Muslim fear-mongering to take up Gaffney's warnings about the "creeping" threat of Sharia law. Yet just a few short months, and likely inspired by the political fallout from Cain's deeply controversial claims, it seems that the GOP field has largely abandoned the non-issue of Sharia, leaving Gaffney and his unsigned pledge to keep crying wolf all by his lonesome.
Satisfying as it feels to see Frank Gaffney fall so quickly from relevance, it is important to remember that there remain too many people in this country who take seriously his claims about the 'threat' posed by Islam. The result of this ignorance and bigotry has been a steady increase in violence perpetrated against Muslim Americans across the United States. I'll leave you with a few words from an article we ran earlier this summer:
Words have consequences. And while its often quite gratifying to work up a chuckle over conservative missteps, it remains vitally important that voices continue to be raised against even the most seemingly bizarre and trivial trends in conservative intolerance.
While [conservative politicians'] anti-Islam antics might come across as little more than opportunistic grandstanding in a political environment still deeply permeated by fear and mistrust of the Muslim faith, [they have] to realize that by increasingly aligning [their] platform with anti-Muslim sentiment, [they are] putting the lives of American citizens at risk.
Frank Gaffney is a joke. Islamophobia is not.