The Family Research Council’s (FRC) annual Values Voter Summit (VVS) will be held this weekend in Washington, D.C., and it seems FRC President Tony Perkins is getting a head start on that gathering’s indulgence in Islamophobia.
During Perkins’ radio show on Monday, he claimed Islam should not receive the same First Amendment protections that Christianity (and all religions) has in the United States.
That’s bad enough, but then Perkins really went off the rails when he began discussing the controversy surrounding the flap over Ahmed Mohamed, a Texas teenager who was detained and interrogated because authorities thought he made a fake bomb – it was really a clock – and brought it to his public school to show a teacher. Mohamed was later released without any charges being filed.
“Often times, and I’m not saying that this is the case with Ahmed in Irving, Texas, I am just saying that this is how they operate, is that you will sometimes see terrorists come in and do a dry run to see where the security lapses are and what the responses are and they will just test the systems, again I’m not saying what happened here, but it could have been and you wouldn’t know unless you began asking questions and you began to investigate,” Perkins speculated. (Thanks to Right Wing Watch for the audio).
Even though Perkins tried to make it appear he wasn’t accusing Mohamed of doing a test run for terrorists, he clearly suggested Mohamed performed a dry run for terrorists. He made these accusations without even a shred of evidence, other than the fact that Mohamed is a Muslim and some Muslims are terrorists, therefore it’s plausible in Perkins’ warped mind that Mohamed, who, by the way, is 14 and loves science so much that he wears a NASA t-shirt to school, could be a terrorist.
But Perkins didn’t stop there. He went on to wholeheartedly agree with a caller to the show who offered an absurd conspiracy theory – that Mohamed had planned all along to gain national attention by bringing a harmless device to his school so that he could later get close to powerful people, such as President Barack Obama, and do them harm. (A media firestorm ensued after a distraught Mohamed was put in handcuffs and detained, and he received an outpouring of support, including an invitation to bring his clock to the White House).
“Here in America, now we know that the radical Muslims, they’ll tie explosives to the kids, so what makes us think that they didn’t come do this?” a caller named Michael opined. “We’ve got a president that invites this child, and I’ve got nothing against this kid, the president invites him to our White House, now what if, let’s just say for example, what if this child is carrying a bomb? Is it still smart?”
Perkins responded: “I agree 100 percent with your analysis.”
It’s no surprise that Perkins willingly waded into an Islamophobic cesspool, given the prevalence of such thoughts at the VVS over which he presides every year. Last year, for example, retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert Dees told the summit crowd that he has heard evidence of sleeper cells inside America based on phone calls placed from Afghanistan to areas of the United States with large Muslim populations. (He offered no evidence that the content of the calls was sinister.)
“We have been infiltrated,” Dees blustered. “The enemy is within. I saw… cell phone calls coming from Kandahar, Afghanistan, going to places like Lackawanna, N.Y., Greenville, N.C., Nashville, Tenn. and Dearborn, Mich. These are all Islamic sanctuaries in the United States within which there are fundamentalist sleeper cells.”
It’s obvious that Perkins and his ilk don’t care for any religious viewpoint that isn’t their own, and Muslims are an easy target because of current world events. And while stopping terrorism is a legitimate concern, Perkins is hoping to use fear as an excuse to limit the religious liberty of minority groups within the United States. His endgame is grabbing more power for right-wing evangelical Christians by marginalizing other groups – and he won’t stop with Islam.
Fortunately, FRC has thus far been unable to rewrite the U.S. Constitution so that Muslims are officially second-class citizens. But it will keep trying, and it’s safe to say there will be plenty of Islam bashing at the VVS all weekend long.
P.S. Americans United staffers will be attending the VVS. Scheduled speakers include GOP presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, U.S. Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas), U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and a host of others. Look for a report on “The Wall of Separation” on Monday.