Always a firebrand and a hardline partisan, former Republican House speaker Newt Gingrich has worked diligently in recent months to tie his personal political brand to terrorism and anti-Muslim sentiment. It comes as little surprise, therefore, that he will appear at Denver’s terror museum, the Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab (the CELL) for a discussion hosted by the Denver Post on Sept. 30 and curiously titled “Why the U.S. Must Defeat Terrorism in the Next Decade.” Why not within the next year or the next week?
Gingrich, who is on the short list of potential Republican presidential candidates in 2012, has recently gained headlines with a controversial denouncement of the president’s “Kenyan, anti-colonial” worldview and by leading opposition to the Park 51 “ground zero mosque.”
In an interview with National Review, he cited a recent Forbes article entitled “How Obama Thinks” by conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza. Gingrich said D’Souza had delivered a “stunning insight” into the president, the “most profound insight I have read in the last six years about Barack Obama.”
“What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?” Gingrich asked. “That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior.”
On ABC’s “Good Morning America”, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs responded by suggesting that Gingrich was “”trying to appeal to the fringe of people who don’t think the president was born in [the U.S.].”
Other commentators agreed that D’Souza and now Gingrich were merely rallying sentiment among the fringe right that has fueled the birther movement, which holds that the president is not a citizen of the United States, trading in suspicions about Obama’s “exotic” even “un-American background.
“Here is a man who spent his formative years–the first 17 years of his life–off the American mainland, in Hawaii, Indonesia and Pakistan, with multiple subsequent journeys to Africa,” writes D’Souza lumping in the president’s childhood years in Hawaii with his travels in his twenties abroad.
In August, Gingrich became one of the lead mainstream political voices to oppose the planned Park 51 community center and mosque near ground zero. Allowing the planned construction to go forward, he said, was a form of surrender in the war on terrorism:
Building this structure on the edge of the battlefield created by radical Islamists is not a celebration of religious pluralism and mutual tolerance; it is a political statement of shocking arrogance and hypocrisy.
We need to have the moral courage to denounce it. It is simply grotesque to erect a mosque at the site of the most visible and powerful symbol of the horrible consequences of radical Islamist ideology. Well-meaning Muslims, with common human sensitivity to the victims’ families, realize they have plenty of other places to worship.
But for radical Islamists, the mosque would become an icon of triumph, encouraging them in their challenge to our civilization.
At the CELL in Denver, Gingrich will be joined by Denver Post editor Greg Moore.