The Huffington Post reports today that conservative activist Frank Gaffney has a (new) plan to take down Grover Norquist: he wants to resurrect allegations that Norquist and his protégée, Suhail Khan, are agents of the Muslim Brotherhood operating in the United States:
The letter drafted by Gaffney faults the ACU board for endorsing Norquist and Khan "despite abundant evidence that they have engaged in activities that American conservatives and others who love freedom would find abhorrent."
That behavior, according to Gaffney, includes "the enabling and conduct of influence operations by the Muslim Brotherhood as part of its 'civilization jihad' against this country and, in particular, targeted at the conservative movement and the Republican Party."
He takes fault with Mitchell's findings and asks the board to "correct the record, to repudiate Ms. Mitchell for misleading it or to disassociate the Board from the unacceptable actions of Messrs. Norquist and Khan."
Readers who are learning about this saga for the first time may be wondering what all the fuss is about, and whether Gaffney's allegations carry any weight. The short answer is that his accusations likely won't go anywhere and that Norquist and Khan are not agents of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The more interesting answer is that Gaffney is continuing a feud with Norquist which stretches back to the early 2000s. Before 9/11, the Republican Party had a very concerted Muslim outreach program. This outreach meant that some dubious figures in the world of financing Islamic terrorism were able to establish working relationships with Grover Norquist were even able to get invitations to the Bush White House.
However, much has changed since those days. As David Frum wrote in February of 2011, the anti-Islamist activists arguably won but they never felt they truly got their due:
In the decade since these events, the American political community and the American media have become a good deal more sophisticated about goings-on inside the American Islamic community.
Groups like CAIR do not find its so easy to pass themselves off as “civil rights organizations.”
Hamas and Hezbollah fundraising fronts like the Holy Land Foundation have been shut down.
The leading terror supporters inside the US have been jailed or deported.
The state of discussion inside the US Muslim community has matured and changed: Muzzamil Siddiqui, the imam who delivered an invocation at the National Cathedral service after 9/11, had called for the banning of The Satanic Verses back in 1989. He and his counterparts would know better than to do such a thing now.
It would be naive to assume that terrorist fundraising inside the United States has ceased, or that incitement and anti-semitism have ceased to be preached in mosques or taught in Muslim religious schools. It’s equally true that it’s much more difficult for an American Muslim with a record of support for extremism and violence to play a part in public life today than in the 1990s.
In that sense, Gaffney won. Yet that’s not how it must feel to Gaffney. While individual conservatives have taken Gaffney’s side (Michelle Malkin for example), institutional conservatism continued to align with Norquist. I remember well a radio interview with a conservative host during my Bush book tour in 2003. I was asked a series of anodyne questions about Bush and life in his White House. When the interview ended, the host switched off the mike and asked, “So what the hell is going on with Grover?” But the point is – the mike was off.
You can read about the entire saga on FrumForum.