On Monday, Glenn Beck attacked Grover Norquist. Seven minutes of irrationality ensued.

October 23, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 23, 2013

Recently, my attention was called to an astounding masterpiece of paranoid nonsense being peddled by conservative talker Glenn Beck. Let’s just plunge into this Monday segment from Beck’s video production, the Blaze:

Beck: I remember during the Bush administration, I used to make fun of Grover Norquist, cause people used to say he was a big power player, and I never even heard of him. And then I started talking to people, and they all said, “Oh no, he is [a] really spooky guy. Don’t take him on, Glenn, while you’re taking on George Soros.” Well, things have to be done now, don’t they? So let’s start telling the truth and exposing people for who they really are.

This is quintessential Beck. He is a regular guy (“people used to say he was a big power player, and I never even heard of him”), but he is brave enough to battle unspecified threats (“things have to be done now, don’t they?”). Beck also in his opening invokes Soros, a liberal financier whom I gather is the conservative talker’s favorite leftist boogeyman.

Beck proceeds to introduce two guests: Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security and Policy, and Daniel Greenfield, a fellow of the David Horowitz Center for Freedom.

Beck: He [Norquist] is — he is the guy responsible for a lot of the Muslim Brotherhood stuff that goes on in the White House now, isn’t he? Start with Frank, and Daniel, you can take it too.

Gaffney: You know, Glenn, I think most people who know Grover only as kind of a prominent anti-tax guy in the conservative movement would find that statement unbelievable, and to be honest with you, I would have, but for the fact that I saw it first-hand as a result of sharing office space for what I think of as seven biblically long years with Grover Norquist, in which I had an opportunity to witness it first-hand. I saw terrorists in his office space. I had colleagues come to me and say, “You know, there’s a Muslim Brotherhood front operating out of his office suite.” It was called the Islamic Free Market Foundation, or Institute — I-I, Islamic Institute, for short. This was an operation that was created by a man who’s now serving time in federal prison for terrorism by the name of Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi, and it went on from there, penetrating the Bush campaign leading up to 2000 and then the Bush White House, and that set the stage for what’s going on under Obama now.

Note that in his question, Beck is either calling President Barack Obama out as a Muslim and/or a Muslim Brotherhood ally, operative or dupe.

Gaffney has the grace to acknowledge that this is an astounding accusation. It’s one he purports to back up from personally seeing who was in and out of Norquist’s offices. Al-Amoudi, whose name is sometimes rendered Abdulrahman Alamoudi, has indeed worked with Norquist, according to accounts I found on the web — although, interestingly, I couldn’t find any evidence that he was ever affiliated with the Islamic Institute.

Note that Gaffney suggests that the transition from the Bush to Obama administrations was a seamless one. While in some aspects, particularly national security policy, that appears to be true, it certainly is not the case in all areas.

Beck: OK. Daniel, tell me what his motivation would be, why would he — why would he be doing this?

Greenfield: Well, the Muslim Brotherhood, like the Communists and the Nazis before them, were excellent at setting up front groups with innocuous names and finding people who’d be useful to them. Norquist was useful to them, and in some ways, they were useful to him. Though what he was doing was really entangling the Bush administration, making them complicit in this kind of terrorism, so that the Bush administration would not be able to take a firm line, it would have to say, “Yes, there’s a lot of moderates out there, and [we really] can’t go around alienating them, because we’re now complicit in this.”

Before Greenfield has even completed his first sentence, he has met the dictates of Godwin’s law. Alas, he never really explains what Norquist and the Muslim Brotherhood had in common or how they were useful to him.

Now, when I think of the Bush administration’s attitude toward terrorism, the last thing I think is, “Well, they didn’t take a firm line.”

On Nov. 6, 2001, Bush famously said, “Over time, it’s going to be important for nations to know they will be held accountable for inactivity. You’re either with us or against us in the fight against terror.”

On the same day, Bush said of Osama bin Laden, the head of the Qaeda terrorist group that sponsored the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S.: “This is an evil man that we’re dealing with, and I wouldn’t put it past him to develop evil weapons to try to harm civilization as we know it. And that’s why we must prevail, and that’s why we must win.”

None of that sounds particularly wishy-washy, does it?

Consider what the president said in a joint address to Congress on Sept. 20, 2001:

Americans are asking: Who attacked our country? The evidence we have gathered all points to a collection of loosely affiliated terrorist organizations known as al Qaeda. They are the same murderers indicted for bombing American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, and responsible for bombing the USS Cole.

Al Qaeda is to terror what the mafia is to crime. But its goal is not making money; its goal is remaking the world — and imposing its radical beliefs on people everywhere.

The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics — a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam. The terrorists’ directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews, to kill all Americans, and make no distinction among military and civilians, including women and children.

That Bush — such a softie on terrorism!

Of course, to be fair, perhaps Greenfield is suggesting that the Bush administration (and subsequently the Obama administration) was unforgivably soft on terrorism because its members thought that not every Muslim is a terrorist. Using that logic, Greenfield is correct — and he’s also a bigot.

Greenfield, just to be clear, is criticizing Bush for wanting to work with moderate Muslims to fight Islamic extremism instead of simply trying to kill or subjugate all Muslims — that is, for being willing to use diplomacy along with force.

Back to the video:

Beck: OK, let me — let me just go through some of the things that he has been for. He [Norquist] is for:

• American sharia, a supremacist program that I guess Frank you can go into here in a second.

I’ll simply note that Beck and his guests present no evidence for this astonishing claim.

• He has supported George Soros and J Street’s anti-Israel agenda.

No evidence for this is presented, either.

• He has worked to prohibit the government from using classified information to deport illegal alien terrorists.

No evidence for this is given in the segment.

• Encouraged the closure of Guantanamo.

In March 2010, Norquist co-signed a statement that criticized the naval base’s prison facilities as wasteful.

• Supported the construction of the Ground Zero mosque.

It may be fairer to say that Norquist did not oppose the mosque’s construction. On Aug. 19, 2010, Norquist told C-SPAN:

We have freedom of religion. No politician mouthing off about whether Jews or Muslims or Protestants or Methodists can have a church somewhere has — the good thing about this country, they have no say in that. I don’t care what a politician thinks about what someone of faith wants to do with his own property, to build a mosque, a synagogue or a temple. One of the things that The Forward, the Jewish weekly from New York, pointed out is that in Manhattan it used to be illegal to build synagogues. The Jews were not allowed to build synagogues when the British ran the place for all the same reasons that people are now saying about the Muslims. And when we got a Constitution and a First Amendment, that was all in the past. That was under the Dutch and the British. But when it became America, [you] could build synagogues in Manhattan. And we ought not to go back to the old European way of popular religions get to build facilities and unpopular religions don’t. So property rights are slightly important in the development of Western civilization; it’s your property, you get to do whatever you want with it, and freedom of religion was a big improvement when it came along in Western civilization.

The discerning reader, whether she agrees entirely with Norquist’s pontificating above or not, will note that liberals would probably call his characterization of private property rights (“you get to do whatever you want with it”) overly broad.

Back to Beck:

• Endorsed civilian trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City.

This is true. Should one be shocked by a conservative endorsing the rule of law?

• He is for sharp defense cuts in the, in the time of war.

On Aug. 13, 2012, Norquist told Center for the National Interest: “We can afford to have an adequate national defense which keeps us free and safe and keeps everybody afraid to throw a punch at us, as long as we don’t make some of the decisions that previous administrations have, which is to overextend ourselves overseas and think we can run foreign governments.” Um… Typical Muslim thinking?

• Immediately withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan and Iraq.

This happens to be the position held by then-U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who on May 7, 2012, said: “It is not too late for the United States to learn what the Soviets discovered too late, back in 1989. Mr. President: The time to leave Afghanistan is today, not in 2024.” Paul was running for president at the time.

Back to Beck:

• He espouses open borders.

Again, it may be fairer to say that Norquist opposes some of the more draconian proposed measures to combat illegal immigration.

• Demands amnesty for illegal aliens.

Once again, this may be overstating the case. MSNBC, quoting Norquist’s April 22, 2013, testimony before Congress, wrote:

“You go back in history: This argument that people that come over will be wards of the state was used against the Irish American, about the Eastern European Jews, about Southern Europeans, about Asians. I mean, we’ve heard this again and again, decade after decade, and the people who said have always been wrong.” He also slammed those who continue to use “amnesty” as if its [sic] some type of dirty word.

Beck continues:

• Promotes gay marriage. Promotes gays in marriage.

Norquist is an advisor to GOProud, an organization of gay conservatives. GOProud’s explanation of its stance on gay marriage states, “As federalists, we do not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach on almost any issue and that includes relationship recognition for gay couples.”

If you know how supporting gay marriage, working with GOProud or backing GOProud’s federalist views on gay marriage comport with shariah or any other Islamic principle, please let me know.

• Promoting Internet and other forms of gambling.

This seems to be more or less accurate. Um, Muslims are all for gambling, right?

• Promotes legalization of illegal drugs.

Once again, Beck seems to be overstating the case. On Sept. 12, 2013, Talking Points Memo reported that Norquist has no position on marijuana legalization other than believing that states should be able to make their own policies.

By the by, according to this undated paper by the president of the Islamic Research Foundation International, “The Islamic and sensible solution to the problem is to ban all drugs for recreational and social use.”

Having finished his…damning?…list, Beck continues:

There’s a lot of things here, Frank, that I would say, “Maybe he’s just a libertarian.” Is he a libertarian, or is he playing for the progressive side?

Gaffney: That’s a judgment call, I guess, to some people. To me, it’s pretty clear. When you put it all together, I think most libertarians are not hostile to our country, are not hostile to our Constitution, are not working with, hand in glove, the radical left, to say nothing of the Islamists, to undermine, you know, the conservative movement.

Gaffney references criticism of various conservative officials and the Heritage Foundation, and continues:

This is a guy who is doing the bidding, at the very least, if not all in on his own right, he’s certainly helping people who are enemies, I believe, of this country, and certainly enemies of the Republican Party, if there’s anything left of it, and the conservative movement specifically.

Beck: Can you give me an example where he is comfortable in working with the progressives and Islamists in particular, something that you’d go back to in history?

Gaffney says that the material he’s about to reference can be viewed online at MuslimBrotherhoodInAmerica.com.

Gaffney: We’ve got a clip in part 7 of Grover Norquist at a meeting in Dearborn, Mich., in October 2011 put together between George Soros’, you know, progressives or leftist radicals and the Islamists. And there he talks very candidly about what amounts to an influence operation that he’s been running against a prominent conservative Republican Senate leader. And you know, you just can’t come away from this with any conclusion other than he knows exactly what he’s doing. And what he’s doing is in this case advancing the interests of not just Muslims but Islamists, and I’m afraid that’s the kind of thing that he’s got to be held accountable for.

Beck: Daniel, real quick — I’ve only got 30 seconds now. Can you tell me, what makes you think that he’s not just a freedom guy, that he is playing for the other side?

Greenfield: Well, if he were a freedom guy, why would he be backing an ideology associated with a completely totalitarian regime? Why would he be backing the dissolution of the United States, the misfortunes of the conservative movement, and why would he be doing everything possible to undermine the entire possibility that the Republican Party can push a freedom-based agenda?

Beck: Thank you very much, gentlemen. Back in just a second. And I want you to know that this is a very complex issue, and I think it is time for somebody to take on the establishment Republicans and tell you exactly who’s who.

Beck goes on to make a fairly garbled call for Republicans to “clean out our own house” of GOPers who oppose the Constitution.

None of this withstands the application of any logical thinking. Not once do Beck or his guests demonstrate that Norquist opposes the Constitution; in fact, the notion isn’t even introduced until the last seconds of the segment. But I wonder how anyone might have justified such an accusation; certainly Norquist bases his stance on the so-called Ground Zero mosque on a very straightforward reading of American history and the U.S. Constitution.

Also, let’s call out Greenfield for his bizarre and unsupported claim that Norquist favors the dissolution (?!) of the United States.

Nor is it clear how some of Norquist’s positions — failing to oppose gay marriage, failing to oppose the potential legalization of drugs, at least tacitly supporting gambling — square with Muslim or any totalitarian ideology.

It is possible to argue that Norquist is bad for conservatism and that he is bad for America. However, Beck and his guests utterly fail to mount either case in anything resembling a competent fashion.

The segment might do a great job of getting its audience angry at Grover Norquist. But it does so without leveling any substantial or logical allegations. As he has done before, the proprietor of the Blaze is simply peddling hot air.

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