Tomorrow, March 19, The Heritage Foundation will host a screening of Frank Gaffney’s new documentary titled, Silent Conquest: The End of Freedom of Expression in the West. According to the Foundation’s announcement, Silent Conquest “exposes how the [Organization of Islamic Cooperation] has campaigned through the years at the United Nations and elsewhere to treat any criticism of Islam or its Prophet as a criminal act.” The screening will be followed by a panel discussion that will include Gaffney, Lars Hedegaard, and Deborah Weiss.
Frank Gaffney is no stranger to anti-Islam and anti-Muslim conspiracies and rhetoric. After all, he is one of the leading “misinformation experts” in the so-called “counter-jihad” movement. His paranoid theories of “stealth jihad” and “creeping Sharia” oppressing American liberties have become ubiquitous throughout anti-Muslim/-Islam circles. Earlier this week, for example, grassroots organization ACT! for America held a webcast to announce its Freedom of Speech Day—during which a trailer for Silent Conquest was
Having been barred from CPAC in recent years for his extremist views, Gaffney has been increasingly admonished from within conservative circles. Gaffney, though, has used his connections within the established anti-immigrant movement in hopes to remain relevant and to reintroduce his theories into the larger nativist agenda.
This year, he and other extremists made a return to CPAC. Albeit, under the label of “The Uninvited,” after Breitbart News sponsored a last-minute panel that gathered together various extremists who were not invited by CPAC organizers, including Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs, and Rosemary Jenks of NumbersUSA, who recently appeared on Gaffney’s radio show. “The Uninvited: A Session of Controversial Speakers and Topics” panel carried its title because those involved push messages that conservatives have grown weary of. The GOP has grown sick of being defined by its extremist elements.
The Heritage Foundation certainly has no qualms about hosting nativist extremists. Last summer SB 1070 architect Kris Kobach paid Heritage a visit to stump for his latest piece of anti-immigrant legislation. When he wasn’t abandoning his post as Kansas Secretary of State to testify in front of Congress and defend his myriad legislative efforts far beyond Kansas, Kobach would also take time to
call in to Gaffney’s radio program to discuss the threat of Sharia law poses to America.
Extremists like Gaffney will always work to ensure their bigoted and conspiratorial messages reach as large an audience as possible. When provided a platform with any reach at all, as Heritage has offered, the egos of Gaffney and his ilk are padded, and the Heritage Foundation is certainly stoking the flames of self-importance amongst those on the fringe.
Of a sterner significance is this—that in a time when Conservatives and Republicans are seeking to redefine the GOP in a manner that appropriately alienates the extremist players on the far-Right fringes, Heritage is instead seeking to instill a further sense of credibility into the messages of those extremists. Though powerful, doing so only reaffirms Heritage’s residence on those same fringes.