When it was announced that 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz and Donald Trump would be teaming up next month to host a joint rally opposing the Iran nuclear deal, it seemed things couldn’t get more outlandish. Until it was revealed that the Center for Security Policy would be sponsoring it.
Center for Security Policy is a far-right think tank headed by anti-Muslim conspiracist Frank Gaffney and, according to Politico, the organization will be one of the sponsors of the rally, tentatively scheduled for Sept. 9.
Whatever the date, Trump promised a “tremendous crowd.”
So just who is Frank Gaffney?
Gaffney is one of the most prominent figureheads within the organized Islamophobia movement in America. After working in the Defense Department during the Reagan Administration, Gaffney has since turned to a career as a full-time anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist. In this role, he foments fear of Muslims, casting them as the greatest threat facing the nation. One of his regular theories is that Muslims are using a tactic he calls “stealth jihad” to infiltrate the U.S. government in hopes of overthrowing it from within and replacing it with a Shariah-adherent one.
Gaffney once asked, “What if it turns out that some of the people the Obama administration has been embracing are actually promoting the same totalitarian ideology and seditious agenda as al Qaeda, only they’re doing it from White House Iftar dinners?”
Gaffney was responsible for spurring on former Rep. Michele Bachmann’s McCarthy-esque, anti-Muslim witch hunt in Congress against Huma Abedin, a longtime aide of Hillary Clinton.
On Iran, Gaffney has a history of twisting the idea of the country’s nuclear program to his own misconceptions and aversion toward Muslims. In July, he said the Iran deal, which he calls the “Obama bomb deal,” is “unmistakably the most dangerous agreement in our country’s history.”
This event would not be the first time Cruz has collaborated with Gaffney. In fact, Cruz has become a regular at events organized by Gaffney’s organization, including attending one earlier this year called the “Defeat Jihad Summit,” which featured a who’s who of some of today’s most notorious anti-Muslim activists.
Gaffney appears to be a big fan of Trump as well. Trump’s proposed immigration policy has become popular among notorious nativist groups and white nationalists. It seems the plan also resonated with Gaffney.
During a recent episode of his Secure Freedom Radio program, Gaffney asked his guest if they were “struck as I am by how basically sensible many of the things, if not all of the things, […] [Trump is] saying and certainly the policy and program he’s laid out.”
He added that he was also “struck by the wild, over the top attacks to which [Trump is] being subjected.”
One might recall some of the racist comments Trump has made that Gaffney deems unworthy of criticism, including broadly smearing Mexican immigrants as “criminals” and “rapists.” In his immigration platform, Trump is also calling for the abolition of the 14th Amendment, a tactic that is steeped in racism.
In a statement issued by Cruz’s campaign, he thanked Gaffney’s organization for their hard work setting up the rally.
“We are thankful for all their hard work on this effort and will have more details on time, date, and location as they are finalized,” the statement read.
Unfortunately, Cruz and Trump’s antics fit right in with the xenophobic and bigoted rhetoric that have already been characteristic of this early campaign season. But any candidates hoping to be elected to serve in this office — or any other — should steer clear of known anti-Muslim fearmongers like Gaffney.