Skip to content

Frank Gaffney talks Egypt on Detroit radio — and even conservatives should hit mute

February 7, 2011, 4 Feb 2011: As the situation in Egypt continues to capture international headlines, most Americans are eager to learn more about the upheaval in this ancient state and critical American ally.

WJR’s Paul W. Smith has devoted time this week to discussing Egypt on his morning show. That’s to his credit.

Unfortunately, one of Smith’s go-to experts was American Center for Security Policy’s Frank Gaffney. His listeners certainly aren’t better informed for that.
Gaffney favored supporting Hosni Mubarak’s rapidly-dying regimebecause he’s “our dictator” and check on Islamists. That’s well within the mainstream spectrum of realpolitik. You might disagree with it, but supporting the “lesser evil” (or, the least contrary to American interests) authoritarian/totalitarian regime is hardly a new or outrageous worldview. We allied ourselves with Stalin to defeat the Nazis and all variety of tin-pot despots to hold the line against communism.

However, Gaffney goes a step further and, frankly, becomes unhinged when he suggests Egypt’s Islamist Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the U.S. government.

Feb. 1, Think Progress: Gaffney told us that there were already people in the federal government doing the bidding of “stealth jihadists.” When we asked Gaffney to name names, he pointed to President Obama’s chief counterterrorism advisor John Brennan, Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Gaffney didn’t stand before the Wheeling Women’s Club waving around a supposed list of 205 known Muslim Brotherhood operatives, but his baseless allegations – wrapped in all manner of weasel words and dog whistle equivocations – smacks of McCarthyist fear-mongering at its worst.

He also warns of creeping Sharia Law in the United States. That’s absolute bollocks. There just isn’t a single shred of credible evidence that ayatollahs are setting up shop in DC, preparing to outlaw bacon, or otherwise attempting to impose Islam on the American public.

Indeed, many Muslim-American immigrants came to the United States precisely because they wish to escape the Islamist oppression at the hands of our “good friends,” like the House of Saud.

And, while we’re on this subject, this is the United effing States of America. If these tear-stained wretches claiming the mantle of the party of John Wayne think a few exception-to-the-rule radicals can bring down one of the most stable and continuous constitutional republics in human history, then they’re cowards and embarrassments to the ideals this country was founded upon.

It’s truly sad guys like Gaffney can ooze into the mainstream as self-styled intellectual conservatives.

The rise of the conservative intellectual movement after World War II truly invigorated the national discourse. History will continue to judge works like “The Road to Serfdom,” “Ideas Have Consequences,” and Whitaker Chamber’s “Witness” as indispensable to the American political canon.

Yet – a half century after William Buckley wrote Robert Welch and the John Birch Society out of the conservative mainstream – a bona fide scholar like Michigan’s Russell Kirk is considered an equal to proponents of John Birch-style rubbish like Frank Gaffney.

In every way, Gaffney is to the War on Terror what Welch was to the fight against communism.

Feb. 17, 1962, Russell Kirk in America Magazine: Robert Welch…is remarkably ignorant of the nature of the Communist conspiracy which he denounces; and the sound of his own words has led him to the verge of what Burke called ‘metaphysical madness’. Ever since he founded his society he has done more to injure the cause of responsible conservatism than to act effectively against communism.

The mainstreaming of figures like Frank Gaffney should distress to both conservatives and liberals because it cheapens the discourse. Not in the “civility” sense that pundits like to bandy about, but in the way the clash of ideas is reduced to Jacobin squabbles over pedestrian fears.

Paranoids and fear mongers are nothing new to American politics, especially when discussing foreign powers. A century ago, it was the “Hun” plotting to steal our Liberty Cabbage.

Nonetheless, there’s no reason for otherwise responsible pundits and hosts to provide platforms for political quacks to sell their rhetorical snake oil.

This much is sure, the late J.P. McCarthy – no left-wing radical, he – wouldn’t have wasted five seconds of airtime on a charlatan like Frank Gaffney.


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: