The media outlets have relayed their dismay at the outpourings from the pucker-mouthed, flame-headed Republican candidate Donald Trump. From closing down mosques, and requiring all Muslims to register onto a database, to banning Muslim immigration, Donald Trump is, in the one words of one journalist, “at war with Muslims”, thoroughly exploiting the growing anti-Muslim sentiment in the West. The media has painted his views as fringe, however, could not be further from reality, at least at the policy level. Trump is tip of an iceberg of narratives rooted in neoconservatism and its proponents.
It is worth noting that American neoconservatives like David Frum have openly backed Trump in the past. At that time, too, Trump was on the train of hype and demagoguery, obsessively attacking Obama through “birther” allegations, fuelling the architecting of the “other” and feeding the far-right claims that Obama was a “closet-Muslim”.
His current campaign continues the theme of fear-mongering of the “outsider”. It began with Mexican immigrants being stereotyped by Trump as “drug dealers, criminals and rapists”. His focus has, over the course of the year, transitioned to Islam and Muslims.
Trump and the Summit of Hate: Frank Gaffney
At a summit in an Iowan church alongside noted neoconservative bigot, (Quilliam Foundation-connected) Ted Cruz, and Bobby Jindal (to whom I will come to later), Trump echoed all the neoconservative-defined threats: Islam, jihadists, ISIS, and a nuclear bomb from Iran. Pouring his kerosene of hate into rising anti-Muslim fires, Trump said,
“Christians can’t come into this country but Muslims can, what’s that about?”
Frank Gaffney, the President the Center for Security Policy helped organise the conference and went onto append the usual “Trojan Horse” tropes,
“[Muslim] doctors, civil engineers, and scientists have a capacity to prove very problematic if they embrace this jihadist doctrine of Sharia,”
Gaffney, is a pro-Israel neoconservative who started his work with Henry “Scoop” Jackson, worked under Richard Perle during the Reagan administration, and later became a founding member of the neoconservative War on Terror advocating Project for New American Century. His Center for Security Policy is said to have
“pioneered the anti-Shariah hysteria by publishing materials regarding the threat of an Islamic takeover of the U.S.”
He and his neocon propaganda machine is the source for Trump’s immigration policies. Trump in his support of his fascist views cited a dubious poll by Gaffney’s organisation. Gaffney in turn has expressed support for Trump’s plans.
George Osborne on Trump and White Privilege
Despite the Nazi-esque proposals, a petition calling for his ban passing 329,000 at the time of writing, and Nicola Sturgeon stripping Trump of his role as business ambassador for Scotland, neocon George Osborne refused to ban him from entering the UK using anti-extremism policies saying it would be “wrong”. It strikingly demonstrated the discriminatory nature of Britain’s counter-extremism strategy proving once again the second-class citizenship being endured by the Muslim minority of Britain and the privilege of white neoconservative elite.
Osborne of course distanced himself from Trump’s “controversial” calls, as did the neocon Boris Johnson. However the refusal to ban is critical; it is a can of worms which Osborne has forced open through his refusal.
Is this hard-line American brand of neoconservatism represented by Cruz, Jindal, Gaffney and Trump as isolated as many think? And is there a British connection?
The British Neoconservative Connection: Douglas Murray
Trump has his supporters in the UK. According to a YouGov poll, 61% of UKIP voters would support Trump’s anti-Muslim profiling.
However, there is a deeper connection between the US neocons pushing these abhorrent assurances and British neoconservatives who are shaping counter-terror/extremism policies negatively affecting Muslims. The clue can be seen in Gaffney’s past I outlined above. He started out as a staffer for Henry “Scoop” Jackson. Jackson also provides the inspiration for the pro-Israeli, bigotry-funded neoconservative think-tank which uses his name in the title: the Henry Jackson Society (HJS).
HJS’ associate director Douglas Murray and Gaffney have shared praises and platforms along with some disturbing views. In one interview, Gaffney introduces Murray as,
“the founder and director of a marvellous organisation in the United Kingdom called the Centre for Social Cohesion [which was amalgamated into the Henry Jackson Society] and Douglas is one of the most courageous champions of freedom in the British isles that I know of.”
Murray returns this lauding with, “its great to be with you as always”, and proceeds to explain how he argued alongside another neoconservative charlatan Ayaan Hirsi Ali that Islam is not a religion of peace, all to the glee of Gaffney. In yet another video, Murray and Gaffney attack Sayeeda Warsi for raising anti-Muslim prejudice, promote Shari’ah fearmongering, share the view that “Muslims who want to destroy us” happen to “track very closely to their adherence to Shari’ah”, and that “there is no such thing as a good Shari’ah, it doesn’t exist, there’s no school of it”. In doing so, they cement the view that adherence to Islam intrinsically develops a propensity toward terrorism. This of course provides the basis for the characterisation of religiosity as a sign of radicalisation, which is now resulting in child abuse courtesy of Britain’s PREVENT Strategy.
In 2011, Murray gave another interview to Gaffney, in which Murray was again “welcomed”, with Murray returning a response in kind: “very good to be with you as always”. Gaffney co-opting Murray into his conspiracy theories comments (3:13) that he,
“…is a man who has been carefully monitoring for sometime what is being done with respect to the Islamist efforts to wage a kind of stealth Jihad inside of Britain other countries of the West.”
Murray does not challenge or correct Gaffney’s view of him. More pertinently, we witness the encouragement of the type of rhetoric Trump is now churning out. In the same interview discussing the terrorist attack by Anders Breivik, Murray laments, (6:30)
“In Europe in recent years, there have been efforts by governments to clamp down on freedom of expression, and freedom of speech when in particular it is critical of immigration policies or integrationist policies of European governments.”
He cites as an example the case of “Lars”. In 2011 Lars Hedegaard was convicted of hate speech, which was eventually over-turned by the Danish Supreme Court. Hedegaard is the founder and editor of Dispatch International, who is on record as stating,
“We consider Islam the most dangerous challenge to the Nordic countries and the entire West since the democracies succeeded in crushing Nazism and Fascism and beat back the third totalitarian ideology of the 20th Century, Communism. That is why we will write a lot about Islam and Muslim immigration.”
In other words, Hedegaard’s bigoted views are not dissimilar to those adhered to and followed by Anders Breivik, as revealed in his manifesto.
Murray himself shares such views. He has stated:
“Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board: Europe must look like a less attractive proposition.”
Murray has also promoted discriminatory, Nazi-style policies for Muslims in the education sphere:
“The attitude towards Muslim schools should be exceptional… if any Muslim academies are allowed to exist, they should be funded entirely privately, with no taxpayer assistance and should be subject to uniquely strict regulation and inspection. If such conditions are considered unbearable, then Muslims will have to try their luck in other countries…”
It is not just Murray who has interacted and supported Gaffney and his organisation. HJS personnel have also contributed to other radio shows hosted by Gaffney dedicated to hyping up fears around Iran and discussing war in Asia, as recent as 2013 (see here and here).
The well-connected circle of hate does not end here. Earlier, it was noted that Trump had attended a “summit” alongside Bobby Jindal which was organised by Gaffney. Born to immigrant parents, the Hindu-turned-Catholic Jindal is notorious for coming aboard the anti-Muslim hate bandwagon by promoting myths designed to stereotype Muslim minorities. Earlier this year, he made claims that there were “no-go zones” which were governed by a “harsh version of Islamic law”. Apparently, “immigrants” were seeking to “colonize Western countries”. Such areas exist in London too. These were all claims he was expectedly unable to substantiate, but more pertinently, were discussed at an event where he was invited to speak at by none other than HJS.
The words of Trump have been widely derided, however Trump represents the endpoint of a sophisticated network of anti-Muslim, neoconservative financiers and propagandists who believe in profiling and discrimination based upon the religion of Islam itself. Perturbingly, this network extends into the UK through the Henry Jackson Society, which continues to remain untouched by the neocon-headed Charity Commission and continues to operate with impunity. If Trump ought to be rejected for his fascist views, it is only logical that fascist neoconservatives like Douglas Murray and dangerous organisations like his HJS, which has influenced key homeland and international security policies, are also exposed alongside him.