Tom Tancredo Attacks Rick Perry Over Immigrants and Muslims
Since Herman Cain’s political conversion experience (so to speak) after visiting with the leaders of a Virginia mosque this spring, Islam has taken a backseat as a campaign issue in the Republican primary contest.
While Rick Perry has good relationships with some Texas Muslim communities, he has thus far decided against highlighting this record to primary voters unlikely to reward him for it. Somewhat surprisingly though, his opponents have similarly declined to criticize his seemingly suspect anti-Muslim bona fides.
Apparently noticing the same thing, former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) decided to start the attacks on his own with a broadside in The Daily Caller:
What is not yet as widely known about Perry is that he extends his taxpayer-funded compassion not only to illegal aliens but also to Muslim groups seeking to whitewash the violent history of that religion. Perry endorsed and facilitated the adoption in Texas public schools of a pro-Muslim curriculum unit developed by Muslim clerics in Pakistan.
Tancredo hits all the usual notes–implying connection to any Muslim group is inherently suspicious, quoting anti-Muslim extremist Robert Spencer, smearing conservative anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist as part of the Islamic conspiracy–and even cites the satirical headline of a Justin Elliot piece at Salon as literal support for his position.
But the most interesting thing about this development isn’t the substance of Tancredo’s attack–it’s his justification for why he’s launching it now. Tancredo, best known for his rabid anti-immigrant nativism, makes clear that the impetus for his column was Perry’s recent defense of his in-state tuition program for immigrant Texas students. Voters who dislike Perry’s position on that issue, Tancredo surmises, will be equally interested to know about this Muslim stuff.
This pairing, however, presents a real test for conservatives who have spent the last few years trying to counter accusations that their movement is held together by animus towards minority groups. Framing their arguments as based on economics and national security, they’ve been quick to castigate any suggestions that race plays into their positions on immigrants and Muslims.
But Tancredo doesn’t appear to care for such nuance. For him, compassion for immigrants and insufficient hostility towards Islam are just two sides of the same coin–a deep resentment over perceived preferential treatment for undeserving, untrustworthy “other” groups. The ideological battle over whether to indulge or reject this problematic impulse is one of the defining questions for the modern conservative movement.