For GOP presidential hopefuls, its become necessary to court the crazy. Earlier today, Tim Murphy told you about Newt Gingrich's remarks at an American Family Association forum in Iowa, where the former House Speaker—and likely Republican presidential contestant—lavished praise on Islamophobe conspiracy theorist David Barton.
But wait, there's more: The Iowa Independent reports that Gingrich, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee are scheduled to appear on Bryan Fischer's radio show today. Fischer, the AFA's issues director, has long been a leading basher of Muslims and gays and lesbians. He has said that inbreeding causes Muslims to be stupid and violent; he has equated gay sex with domestic terrorism; and he has claimed that Hitler and his stormtroopers were gay. Yesterday on his blog, Fischer wrote that the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of religion does not apply to Islam:
Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims, for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam. Islam is entitled only to the religious liberty we extend to it out of courtesy. While there certainly ought to be a presumption of religious liberty for non-Christian religious traditions in America, the Founders were not writing a suicide pact when they wrote the First Amendment.
Our government has no obligation to allow a treasonous ideology to receive special protections in America, but this is exactly what the Democrats are trying to do right now with Islam.
Fischer also claims that the First Amendment was intended to safeguard "the free exercise of Christianity." According to his reading of history, America's first brush with jihad happened off the shores of Tripoli, during the First Barbary War.
Despite Fischer's hateful rhetoric, GOP heavyweights continue to chase after him to win over social conservative voters, undeterred by the fact that the Southern Poverty Law Center recently classified the American Family Association as a hate group. It was on Fischer's show that Huckabee repeated his erroneous claims about President Obama's upbringing. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who both harbor presidential ambitions, have also appeared on his show.
In response to the scheduled appearance of Barbour, Gingrich, and Huckabee, People for the American Way wrote letters to each, asking them to denounce Fischer's anti-Islam bias on his show:
Mr. Fischer isn't simply wrong about this point—he is spreading a dishonest and dangerous lie about how America should treat not only Muslims, but people of all faiths or no faith at all.
If you choose to appear with Mr. Fischer today, you have a responsibility to disavow this lie while on the show.
So far, none of the three has indicated that he will heed this call. The GOP presidential aspirants hobnob with Fischer because they believe they need to. After all, it's an easy way to reach out to the extreme, the misinformed, and/or the bigoted voters who will be part of the Republican primaries.