The New McCarthyism

by digby

I just heard Chris Matthews say that McCain seems to be building the case that Obama is in some sort of Muslim terrorist sleeper cell.

He's actually quite right. This may very well end up being an ongoing right wing theme for the next four years:

What the desultory townhall-style debate last night in Nashville between presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama lacked in passion and focus on the most important issue of our time - the threat posed by Shariah (Islamic law) to our freedoms, way of life and form of government - was much in evidence in another debate held near Baltimore. Under the sponsorship of The Harbor League, Center for Security Policy President Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. squared off with Suhail Khan, the Bush Administration's Assistant to the Secretary of Transportation for Policy.

As an article by Mr. Gaffney describing the highlights of "the Other Debate" (repoduced below) makes clear, Khan did little to dissipate serious concerns about his past associations with, and affinity for, those who minimize the threat posed by Shariah-adherent Muslims - including many who are prominent supporters of Shariah's largely stealthy insinuation into this country.

Keep in mind that polling still suggests that people believe that Republicans are better on the issue of terrorism.

This "debate" was hosted by none other than ultra conservative Sinclair Broadcasting. And Frank Gaffney isn't some obscure right wing blogger, he's a longstanding member of the permanent neconservative establishment. Indeed, he was one of the members of the "Family Security Council" the wingnut welfare group that published this notorious essay on its website:

If President Bush copied Julius Caesar by ordering his army to empty Iraq of Arabs and repopulate the country with Americans, he would achieve immediate results: popularity with his military; enrichment of America by converting an Arabian Iraq into an American Iraq (therefore turning it from a liability to an asset); and boost American prestiege while terrifying American enemies.

He could then follow Caesar's example and use his newfound popularity with the military to wield military power to become the first permanent president of America, and end the civil chaos caused by the continually squabbling Congress and the out-of-control Supreme Court.

President Bush can fail in his duty to himself, his country, and his God, by becoming “ex-president” Bush or he can become “President-for-Life” Bush: the conqueror of Iraq, who brings sense to the Congress and sanity to the Supreme Court. Then who would be able to stop Bush from emulating Augustus Caesar and becoming ruler of the world? For only an America united under one ruler has the power to save humanity from the threat of a new Dark Age wrought by terrorists armed with nuclear weapons.

Now that Bush failed to take that sage advice, it looks like they're going to have to deal with the "enemy within."

The interesting thing about Gaffney (besides promoting rightwing propaganda about a Muslim fifth column in the government) is that one of his main targets is none other than Grover Norquist:

I also reported on the role Norquist has played before and during the George W. Bush administration in facilitating Islamist influence operations involving – at key points, with Suhail Khan's help at the White House Office of Public Liaison – the likes of now-convicted terrorist-supporters like Abdurahman Alamoudi and Sami al-Arian. Khan serves on the board of the Islamic Free Market Institute, the organization Alamoudi helped Norquist establish a decade ago in his Americans for Tax Reform offices, apparently for the purpose of credentialing Islamists as conservatives, promoting their agenda in Washington and placing their friends in government jobs.

Speaking of the audience, the packed room included a couple of car-loads worth of staff and associates of Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform. Several of them asked pointed questions taken straight out of the Islamist play-book: asserting a moral equivalence between the extremists of Islam and those of Christianity and Judaism; insisting that there was no problem with authoritative Shariah, only with a small number of terrorists who falsely claim religious grounds for their criminal conduct; and suggesting that if Jews and various Christian sects can have and observe their own laws, why can't Muslims? The fervor with which these non-Muslim conservative activists parroted the Brotherhood line suggested that more than simple solidarity with their friend, Suhail Khan, is at work in Norquist's Islamist influence operation.

And here I thought Norquist was just trying to build a political majority.

Gaffney's cracked paranoia is aimed at certain conservatives for the moment, but I can see quite clearly where this is going. I don't doubt that Gaffney truly believes that Norquist is dangerous. He's been pounding this thing for years. But very soon we are likely to have a president who is believed by a substantial minority to be a secret Muslim who is friendly with terrorists and Gaffney's dark vision of a government infiltrated by radical Muslims who want to overturn the constitution and force Sharia law on all Americans will suddenly have salience:

At its core, Shariah's agenda is seditious since it is designed to destroy the constitutional government of the United States and replace it with Islamic rule.

This end-state will be achieved here as elsewhere through violent (or "hard") jihad, if possible. Where that is not immediately practicable, the Muslim Brotherhood has established scores of organizations to promote what might be called "soft" or "stealth" jihad.

The objective, however, is absolutely the same: In the words of an internal planning document written in 1991, "[The Brotherhood's] work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within."

I concluded with the following points:

* Every U.S. government official swears a solemn oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. Those officials who are Muslim have a special responsibility to reject Shariah and the Muslim Brotherhood organizations stealthily trying to impose it on all of us.
* To do otherwise is to fail to act in the face of seditious behavior – a felony offense under the U.S. code known as "misprision of treason."
* We need the help of all patriotic, law-abiding, tolerant Americans who are Muslims in fighting our mutual enemy: Shariah-adherent Islamists in this country and elsewhere.
* A key test of which camp they are in is whether they acknowledge the nature of authoritative Islam's Shariah and the threat it represents to our country and Constitution, and work against – not with – the groups advancing this seditious agenda.

This is the kind of thing that really makes me fear for Obama. They are already screaming "terrorist" at Palin's rallies and shouting "kill him." The whole "Obama is a muslim" thing is bizarre, but with his name and childhood spent partly in a Muslim country --- and the fact that he's black, which makes everyone flash on Louis Farrakhan --- the collective right wing lizard brain twitches uncontrollably. They will use this, I have no doubt. There is an entire wingnut industry devoted to stirring up tensions in the middle east and another on devoted to character assassination of Democrats. Obama brings them together in serendipitous loathing and paranoia. It's going to be ugly.