Why Mike Coffman spoke to the “nation’s leading anti-Muslim hate group”
Updated October 6, 2015, 4:54
“ACT For America is perhaps the nation’s leading Anti-Muslim hate group … extremely out there in terms of their bigotry and extremism and hate mongering,” said Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The New York Times Magazine described the organization’s president Brigitte Gabriel, who also spoke at the conference, as follows: “She presents a portrait of Islam so thoroughly bent on destruction and domination that it is unrecognizable to those who study or practice the religion.”
At a Defense Department course on Islam, in 2007, Gabriel said: “If a Muslim who has — who is — a practicing Muslim who believes the word of the Koran to be the word of Allah, who abides by Islam, who goes to mosque and prays every Friday, who prays five times a day — this practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.”
Over his years in office, Coffman has been a vocal opponent of what he describes as “radical Islam,” yet does not agree with every aspect of ACT! for America’s platform.
“Like many interest groups, ACT can get carried away with its rhetoric,” said Coffman’s spokesperson Cinamon Watson in an email to The Colorado Independent.
After the Fort Hood shooting, Coffman wrote in the Highlands Ranch Herald that “radical Islam” is “as dangerous as the threat of communism once was during the Cold War” and “so twisted in its beliefs that it values death over life and uses terrorism as its only tactic.”
Attacking so-called “radical Islam” has been in vogue in some Republican and Democrat circles for more than a decade as politicians have capitalized on a rising fear of Muslims in the wake of 9/11 — what critic Ian Haney López refers to as “dog-whistle racism.”
In that context, Coffman’s position does not seem particularly unusual.
But his talk at an ACT! for America conference suggests he may endorse the organization’s bigotry, Hooper said.
“Either he doesn’t know about their hate agenda or he buys into it. We would hope it would be the former and not the latter. Usually we find that whenever there is some kind of public official that associates with this hate group, they usually know what they’re doing.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations sent out warnings to six Congress members slated to speak at the ACT! for America event about the organization’s status as a hate group. Coffman was not among those warned.
Would he speak for this group, which has have given him a 100 percent grade for voting against “radical Islam,” had he been warned?
“With regard to why he spoke to this group (ACT! for America), the Congressman speaks with literally hundreds of groups every year, and very rarely agrees with every aspect of their agenda. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have a dialogue,” his spokesperson Watson wrote.
Talking about the threat of terrorism and radical Islam is a centerpiece of Coffman’s platform.
“As a Marine, he has seen it up close and personal as part of numerous deployments to the Middle East,” Watson wrote. “That’s why so many groups, including these, invite him to speak. He brings a viewpoint broader than that of a member of Congress – he’s also a combat veteran and a Marine.”
Photo credit: ResoluteSupportMedia, Creative Commons, Flickr.
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