The Center for Security Policy’s Frank Gaffney has been thrown into the spotlight this week after Donald Trump cited a shoddy poll that his group conducted in his call for a ban on all Muslim immigration and tourism to America.
Gaffney has since been defending both Trump and himself from criticism, and enlisted the help of his frequent ally conservative columnist Andrew McCarthy on his “Secure Freedom Radio” broadcast yesterday.
McCarthy told Gaffney that Trump is “bloviating us into important issues, particularly in the immigration area, that we need as a matter of policy to consider carefully” and has either wittingly or accidentally gotten Americans to discuss whether Islam is in fact a religion that deserves religious protections under American law.
“And I don’t know how much he actually knows about Islam, I don’t know how much he actually knows about immigration law, but he has certainly pushed us into what I think is … the central question that everything else flows from, which is, is Islam, strictly speaking, a religion as we understand religion in the West?” McCarthy said.
“The reason that that’s important,” he explained, “is that we have obvious legal restrictions on using religion as a litmus test for a variety of things, not least immigration.”
McCarthy, for his part, concluded that Islam is not a religion but instead “has ambitions to be more than a religion, that is to say that it is an ideological, sweeping system that does not recognize a division between spiritual life on the one hand and political and civic life on the other,” and therefor does not deserve the same legal protections.
“I don’t know whether Trump is up on these nuances or not, but certainly he has provoked a discussion where we have to start to consider it,” he added.
Gaffney, displeased that the press was prompted by Trump’s comments to revisit Gaffney’s long history of anti-Muslim conspiracy theories , then asked McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, to reassure listeners that while there are “conspiracy theories,” there are also “conspiracies,” such as the Muslim Brotherhood’s infiltration of the U.S. government.
“There is, at the moment, a considerable effort being made to deprecate yours truly and our center and, I think, others who have been pointing out the kinds of information that you have so well, that this is, oh, just sort of conspiracy theorizing and to be dismissed as such,” Gaffney said. “In your experience, Andy, obviously there are conspiracy theories, but is it not also the case that there are conspiracies? And would you characterize what’s going on with the Brotherhood in America at the moment, including inside our government, as a conspiracy?”
“At the U.S. attorney’s office, we used to say that you can’t have a conspiracy without a conspiracy theory,” McCarthy agreed.