While a gay rights controversy drew headlines at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, another — and even more bitter — dispute rippled as views varied widely on how to reconcile the conservative movement with Islam in the United States.
At the 38th annual conservative gathering, there was no shortage of accusations of Islamist sympathies, Muslim Brotherhood infiltration and charges of fear-mongering. Republican presidential hopefuls, including Newt Gingrich and John Thune, also drew applause with suggestions that the Obama administration has taken a politically correct blind eye to the connection between radical Islam and terrorism.
Freshman Rep. Allen West also drew thunderous applause in his keynote speech about the threat to America posed by Islam and other security threats. And as Republican candidates define their national security stands in the 2012 elections, conservative discomfort with Islam in America will be a feature of the debate. …
“Sometimes when you hear snide comments about Jews in the ’50s or Muslims today — we’ve been through this. The Republican party chased away the Catholic vote for over a hundred years,” said Grover Norquist, an ACU board member and a tax activist who has tried to bring Muslim voters in to the GOP for more than a decade. “You chase away people politically. The thing about the political effects of bigotry — it can last generations. It’s tough to fix.” (More)