At the zoning board meeting, one woman called Islam a “so-called religion.” Residents claimed the Muslim Brotherhood would control the mosque. TheFacebook page of the group “Stop the Mosque in Bayonne” features a man holding a sign that says “Democracy or Sharia Law.”
This is the language of Frank Gaffney. For a decade and a half, Gaffney, a former Reagan administration Pentagon official who heads a small Washington think tank called the Center for Security Policy, has been making two interrelated arguments. First, that the Muslim Brotherhood—which he claims seeks to replace the United States Constitution with a Caliphate based upon Sharia law—secretly controls most American mosques and Muslim organizations. Second, that Islam is not actually a religion. It is a totalitarian political ideology. Thus, its adherents should be treated not like Christians or Jews, but like American Nazis during World War II.
For years, Washington conservatives ridiculed these arguments and stigmatized Gaffney for making them. In 2003, after Gaffney attacked two Muslim staffers in the Bush White House, anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist banned him from his influential “Wednesday meeting” of conservative activists. In 2011, according to sources close to the organization, the American Conservative Union informally barred Gaffney from speaking at CPAC, the ACU’s signature event. In 2013, the Bradley Foundation, which had backed the Center for Security Policy since 1988,cut off funds. That same year, Gaffney lost the Washington Times column he had been writing since the late 1990s. As late as December 2015, The Daily Beastdeclared that, “Frank Gaffney has been shunned by pretty much everyone in conservative intellectual circles.”