Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Victoria Jackson takes on Grover Norquist at Frist Tuesday

Yesterday I posted that J. Lee Douglas of the local 9-12 Project group had sent emails and posted to Facebook a letter calling on First Tuesday to cancel an appearance by  Grover Norquest and calling on conservatives to boycott First Tuesday. His reason was that he claims Grover Norquet has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.  The primary source of Douglas' information was statements made by Frank Gaffney, the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy in the Reagan administration.

Grover Norquist
Grover Norquest, as most conservative activist know. is founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform. Norquist has been a leading figure in the conservative movement who established ATF in 1985 at the urging of President Ronald Reagan. The goal of ATR is to create "a system in which taxes are simpler, flatter, more visible, and lower than they are today." He has held Republicans to a policy of advocating lower taxes by asking them to take a "tax pledge" that they would not vote to increase taxes. Prior to forming ATR, Norquist was Director of the National Taxpayers Union and College Republicans. He also was a cold warrior and traveled to several foreign countries helping organize anti-Soviet guerrilla groups during the cold war.

Allegation that Norquist has ties to Muslim extremist appears to be based on outreach to American Muslims to get them to be supporters of the Republican Party, that he founded an organization to promote capitalism among Muslims called Islamic Free Market Institute, and that his is married to a Muslim Palestinian-American. In 2004 Gaffney first questioned Norquist loyalty.  He alleged Norquist had ties to several Muslims that had associations with Muslim terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah and Norquist had helped these people gain influence with the Bush administration. This labeling of Norquist as a disloyal American with ties to terrorist got Gaffney isolated from many mainstream conservatives and banned from participation in CPAC.

The rumors of Norquist terrorist ties spread and was picked up by people like David Horowitz, Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin and Pam Geller and then became standard fare for grassroots conservative political organization. Anyone active in the conservative movement has heard these claims. Recently, a new outrageous claim has been made by Gaffney.  He claims that on the day 9-11, he had an office next to Norquist's office and by lifting a ceiling tile he could hear Norquist celebrating the 9-11 attack with Muslims in his office. J. Lee Douglas included this claim in his letter calling on First Tuesday to cancel Norquist appearance.

Today, I had the opportunity to talk to Norquist prior to the meeting. I showed him a copy of the letter from J. Lee Douglas, and asked him about the allegations.  He said it was all untrue and he was not even in Washington on 9-11 and said no one took Gaffney seriously.  He said during  the cold war, that Gaffney had made allegations that Brent Scowcroft was a soviet agent.  He said Gaffney had lost any credibility he ever had. I told him that the accusations were widely believed and I personally urged him to address the issue.  Norquist said something to the effect that he did not want to dignify such allegations with an acknowledgment.  I said I thought he should and I said I may ask him about it in Q&A.  He said if asked, he would address it but he was not going to be the one to bring it up. 

Victoria Jackson
After an informative presentation on tax policy and the politics of cutting spending, it was time for Q&;A.  There were several good questions about tax policy and I was having second thoughts about changing the subject and raising the issue of Norquist supposed ties to Islamic terrorist. As it turns out I did not have to.  Victoria Jackson, former Saturday Night Live cast member, was there and she asked the questions and asked follow up questions and pushed hard. Norquist said none of the allegations were true. As he had told me privately, he explained he was not even in Washington on the day of 9-11. She asked why he had formed his Islamic Free Market Institute and he explained we needed to reach everyone with the message of the superiority of capitalism.  He said he had worked with Jew and Catholics to counter the socialist propaganda among those faiths and to encourage proponents of free markets and he was essentially doing the same with Muslims.  She asked if he was a supporter of Sharia Law, and to some laughter he said, "No, I'm a Methodist." She asked if he was married to a Muslim women and he said yes he was and she was the most wonderful women in the world and he loved her dearly.

I am glad the questions were asked and I was not the one who had to ask them. We choose who we want to believe when we hear something like this. I am choosing to believe Grover Norquist.

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