Imagine if someone had publicly said any of the following:
- Jews should not be allowed to serve in the U.S. military;
- Inbreeding has caused Jews to become stupid;
- No more synagogues should be built in the United States;
- Jews should be expelled from the United States.
Would such a person be invited to speak at a major conservative Christian gathering? And would prominent Republican lawmakers and GOP presidential candidates agree to share the stage with this extremist? Not at all. There would be righteous indignation by the buckets, loads of denunciations, and loud calls for a boycott.
But if one were to say all of this about Muslims? Well, no problem.
This weekend, the Family Research Council is holding its annual Values Voter Summit in Washington. It's one of the biggest religious right shindigs of the year -- especially because the FRC mounts a GOP presidential straw poll at the event, and the results indicate how that party's presidential wannabes are playing with the all-important (for the GOP primaries) social conservative grass roots. Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum -- they're all scheduled to be there, speaking to the assembled and working the crowd. (Sarah Palin is not on the lineup.) Rising star (or supernova) Christine O'Donnell was added to the roster this week. Prominent GOP legislators -- Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-Va.) -- will also address the social conservatives. As will the lesser-known Bryan Fischer.
Fischer is the director of issues analysis at the American Family Association, a social conservative outfit that is a sponsor of the Values Voter Summit. And his values are not very ecumenical when it comes to Islam. As my colleague Stephanie Mencimer has reported
, Fischer has indeed declared that Muslims should be banned from the U.S. military
, that Muslims are dumb because of inbreeding, that no mosques
should be built in the United States, and that Muslims should be deported
. Given this litany, it's hard not to brand Fischer an outright anti-Muslim bigot. Yet he is scheduled to address this assembly of "values voters" on Saturday, minutes before Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) is supposed to hit the stage.
People for the American Way, a liberal outfit, has assailed the Family Research Center for providing Fischer a platform and has urged prominent Republicans to repudiate him. Michael Keegan, the group's president, says
Reasonable people can, and do, have reasonable differences of opinion. Bryan Fischer is not a reasonable person.
By sharing a stage with Fischer, public figures like Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Mike Pence, Bob McDonnell, and Michele Bachmann don't necessarily endorse Fischer's shameless anti-Muslim and anti-gay propaganda -- but they do acknowledge its credibility. Any candidate thinking seriously of running for president in 2012 should think twice about standing alongside a man who has called for the deportation of all Muslims in America; insulted Muslim servicemembers; claimed that brave Americans died in vain because Iraq was not converted to Christianity; and called gay people deviants, felons, pedophiles, and terrorists. Bryan Fischer is no mainstream conservative. And neither is any person who shares a platform with him while refusing to denounce his hate-filled propaganda.
Keegan is a partisan, looking to score points. But he's right. What message does it send to Muslims at home and abroad when this high-profile group elevates Fischer? Shouldn't these Republican boldface names be a bit more picky about whom they hobnob with?
Defending himself, Fischer insists
that he never called for expelling all
Muslims from the United States. He only wants to kick out those who are not yet citizens:
What I was talking about is when you have Muslims who are applying for permanent residency, for permanent legal residency, or applying for citizenship, my recommendation is that instead of granting them citizenship, we help them return to their homeland, to their native country, we help repatriate them to their country of origin where they can have the freedom to be Muslims without having to chafe against our religious liberty and our freedom of speech and first-class citizenship status for wives and for women. . . .
So I say we are doing them a favor by repatriating them to their homeland where an entire nation shares their values.
Do them a favor? And let's burn their Korans, as we pack them off. As for the social conservative summit, what "values" are promoted by placing an anti-Muslim extremist in front of a microphone?
Now go back to the thought-exercise that began this column. If this guy had said anything similar about Jews (or Christians), he'd be dead meat. He would be denounced far and wide. No mainstream politician would participate in any event with him. But because Fischer is talking about Muslims, it's not a problem. That's not a double standard. That's no standard.
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