Update – March 8, 4:43 p.m.: Robert Spencer denied Hawkins’ denial on his blog, saying that it is “a highly disingenuous version of what happened.” Spencer continued that he could have lied to Hawkins, and then still used his speech at CPAC to give “‘the facts about Grover Norquist’s ties to Islamic supremacists and the dangers of his influence over CPAC and the conservative movement…’ But I just don’t operate that way, and also had too much respect for John Hawkins to do that. And in response, he is now accusing me of lying all over the Internet. You know the old saying: no good deed goes unpunished.”
Update – March 8, 2:53 p.m.: John Hawkins of Right Wings News, one of the groups that was supposed to give out CPAC’s People’s Choice Award to Robert Spencer, told Salon in an email that he never told Spencer he was “barred from receiving his award,” as Spencer claimed.
“Some people may disagree,” Hawkins writes, “but I don’t think asking someone not to pull a Kanye West at an award ceremony is a big imposition. The awards are supposed to be about recognizing unappreciated bloggers for the good work they’re doing, not about Robert Spencer airing his personal grievances with the ACU.”
He added: “Last but not least, if anybody has a problem with this, they can feel free to blame me for it. I’m the one who talked to Robert Spencer and I’m the one who’s saying that I think demanding the right to throw a tantrum as a condition of accepting an award is unacceptable. All I can say beyond that is that I hope lying to get his 5 minutes of PR was worth burning people who’ve been supportive of him, because he is dead to me.”
Add “CPAC vs. Islamophobes” to the growing list of internal conservative squabbles.
“What are they doing at CPAC? Essentially, they are enforcing the Shariah,” said anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller. “Under the Shariah, the blasphemy laws, you cannot say, you cannot offend, you cannot criticize and you cannot insult Islam. That is effectively what they’re doing, they are enforcing the Shariah.”
Right Wing Watch reports that Geller was speaking on “The Janet Mefferd Show” about her recent snub from this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, at which she usually holds an unofficial panel. “This year I could not get an event, I was banned,” she said, though also noted that in the past, “I wasn’t warmly welcomed because of the influence of what can only be described as Muslim Brotherhood facilitators or operatives like [ex-Bush staffer and Muslim] Suhail Khan and [anti-tax conservative ] Grover Norquist.”
Robert Spencer, the Anti-Islam blogger behind Jihad Watch and a Geller cohort, also says that he was closed out of the conference, and claims it was because he wouldn’t agree not to trash Norquist and Khan. According to Spencer, Jihad Watch won CPAC’s People’s Choice Award, which is sponsored by Right Wing News and TheTeaParty.net. But, hewrites, when no announcement was made that he had won, he contacted the organizer:
He told me that there was a slight problem: the Tea Party group, which co-sponsored this People’s Choice Blog Award, didn’t want to allow me to receive it at CPAC next week unless I promised not to criticize Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan as I accepted the award.
I told the organizer that I couldn’t agree to that. He asked me if I had planned to talk about Grover and Suhail. I said no, I hadn’t, but I had tonow.
If you are scratching your head at the Norquist-Khan connection, it’s not out of the blue for the anti-Islam set to attack the two as Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers.
In 2011, World Net Daily and conservative columnist Frank Gaffneydeclared that the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated CPAC because of Norquist and Khan’s presences.”What it bespeaks is an effort to penetrate and influence conservatives, who are the most likely and perhaps only community in America who will stand up to and ultimately help ensure the defeat of this seditious totalitarian political program,” Gaffney wrote at the time.
He added that Norquist “is credentialing the perpetrators of this Muslim Brotherhood influence operation.” Norquist, whose wife is Muslim, has been targeted by Gaffney as advancing “the causes of radical Islamists” as far back as 2003.
To add a twist to the story, in 2010 Norquist joined the board of GOProud, the gay Republican group that was also snubbed by CPAC for the last two years.
As Right Wing Watch points out, though, despite Geller and Spencer’s absences, there are still plenty of anti-Islam voices to go around at this year’s conference, like former Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., or the head of Judicial Watch, Tom Fitton.
Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.MORE JILLIAN RAYFIELD.