Catholic Right Leader Robert George Funds Anti-Islam Extremists
The Center for American Progress’s new report profiling the organization and funding of the anti-Islam industry paid particular attention to the seven foundations that have given at least a $1 million dollars to these extremists.
In his profile of one of these funders, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Eli Clifton identifies the nine board members who determine the foundation’s funding priorities. Surprisingly, that list includes Catholic intellectual and activist Robert George. A mainstay of the Catholic Right, George is most well-known for his roles as founder and chairman of anti-same-sex marriage group National Organization for Marriage and founder of the conservative American Principles Project (APP), which is sponsoring a GOP presidential primary debate this Labor Day.
But George’s foray into funding anti-religious extremists is a departure from his usual activities. According to the CAP report, the Bradley foundation has contributed $4.25 million to the David Horowitz Freedom Center, $815,000 to Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy and $305,000 to Daniel Pipes’s Middle East Forum, all three of which promote inflammatory false claims about Muslims.
Here’s a closer look into these individuals (from the CAP report):
- Described Muslims in the Middle East as “Islamic Nazis” who “want to kill Jews, that’s their agenda.”
- Alleges that Muslim Student Associations at American schools “are Wahhabi Islamicists, and they basically support our enemies.”
- Promulgates the debunked smear that 80% of U.S. mosques are controlled by radicals
- Describes his Legal Project website as “a source of information on ‘Islamist lawfare’–that is, attempts by supporters of radical Islam to suppress free discourse on Islam and terrorism by (1) exploiting Western legal systems and traditions and (2) recruiting state actors and international organizations such as the United Nations.”
- Claims President Obama is a former Muslim who “practiced Islam.”
- Said “It is now public knowledge that nearly every major Muslim organization in the United States is actually controlled by the MB [Muslim Brotherhood] or a derivative organization. Consequently, most of the Muslim American groups of any prominence in America are now known to be, as a matter of fact, hostile to the United States and its Constitution.”
- Alleged that there is “mounting evidence that the president not only identifies with Muslims, but actually may still be one himself.”
- Believes that conservative paragon Grover Norquist is running a “Muslim Brotherhood influence operation” to infiltrate the conservative movement.
The last point is particularly interesting given that George and Norquist have worked together before. Just in the last year, the Americans for Tax Reform president served on the advisory board of APP’s Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles.
George’s support for these conspiratorial extremists is particularly disappointing given his Catholic background, as the Church rejects this hostile approach to Islam. The Vatican has long been engaged in inter-religious dialogue with Muslim leaders, and when a historical quote in a 2006 speech by Pope Benedict appeared to support a more negative view of Islam as intrinsically violent, the Pope quickly apologized and clarified that he has “total and profound respect for all Muslims” and the Quran which he described as “the holy book of a great religion.”
A prominent Catholic intellectual like George should have nothing to do with the rhetoric of these extremists. George should clarify whether he endorses these views his organization is funding, and if not, how he reconciles his position on the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation’s board.