Why shouldn’t Rick Perry’s Islamic ties be vetted?
The rush to anoint him our next President is overlooking a great deal.
Imagine a candidate for President of the United States who says all the right things: he will cut taxes, he will roll back the disastrous and defeatist policies of his despised and discredited predecessor, he will restore America’s pride and renew America’s hope.
This candidate is handsome, telegenic, articulate, and apparently unafraid to joust verbally with his failed predecessor, as well as with an adversarial press.
Imagine also that this candidate had raised funds for and had a longtime association with a power player in party politics, a man who was owed favors by virtually everyone who had ever won an election for his party, but a man with ties to some extremely shady characters – say, for example, that this power broker had received, for an organization of his founding, a loan of $10,000 and a gift of another $10,000 from a man who was now in prison for raising money for a terrorist murder plot.
Imagine further that the candidate had partnered in educational initiatives with a billionaire who owned, among many other things, to be sure, a bank that had been accused – and never cleared -- of funding a terrorist group, and of complicity in the murder of an American reporter. That billionaire also owned a development organization that bore his name, and that partnered in various initiatives with the government of a country listed by the State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism, and that was now essentially at war with its own citizens.
Do you think that such a candidate would be questioned about these associations, and that he would deserve the questioning, and would be expected to produce honest, full, and serious answers to concerns about whether he was turning a blind eye or would, as president, turn a blind eye to certain kinds of activity that aided and abetted terrorism?
There is such a candidate: his name is Rick Perry. He has occasioned tremendous excitement among Republicans and conservatives, to the extent that those who dare to ask legitimate questions about his associations and beliefs are being attacked and vilified by people who are ostensibly on their own side. I already know of friendships being broken over this candidacy.
Nonetheless, these questions must be asked. I criticized Bush for his ties to the Saudis, and Obama for his fatuous fawning over the Islamic world. I don't see why Rick Perry should be sacrosanct. The next President of the United States will inherit a responsibility made even more awesome than it usually is by the catastrophic policies of his predecessor, which he will have to move quickly to reverse or else see the nation continue on the path of a prolonged and severe decline from which it may never recover. That is all the more reason not to leap onto the bandwagon of just anyone who looks this week as if he has a chance to defeat Barack Obama, and to rush to demonize those who dare to ask if the emperor’s clothes are really of that good a quality. Now is the time, of all times, to ask of Perry and of every other candidate probing, searching questions, and to investigate their ideas and associations with a critical eye – an operation which, if it had been performed on Barack Obama in 2008, we might not be in this fix.
And so we see first of all that Perry and Grover Norquist held a joint press conference in March 2011. Perry appeared at a fund-raiser for Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform group. Also, Norquist actively campaigned for Perry back in 2009. Their association is longstanding: Perry was investigated by the Texas Ethics Commission in 2004 for allegations that the Governor illegally used campaign money to finance a trip to Bahamas; the point here is not the allegations, but the fact that along on the Bahamas trip at his own expense was Grover Norquist. Perry and Norquist are clearly not just casual acquaintances.
As David Horowitz pointed out several years ago, Norquist has worked with “prominent Islamic radicals who have ties to the Saudis and to Libya and to Palestine Islamic Jihad, and who are now under indictment by U.S. authorities.” Among them was Abdurahman Alamoudi, who was once the most prominent and powerful “moderate Muslim” in Washington, and is now in prison for helping to finance an al-Qaeda plot to assassinate the Saudi king, whom jihadis consider to be inexcusably lax in his Islamic observance (primarily in allowing infidel American troops onto the sacred soil of Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War). Alamoudi gave Norquist’s Islamic Institute, a gambit to try to garner Muslim votes for the Republican party, a $10,000 loan and a $10,000 gift.
Norquist is unrepentant; he continues to partner with Islamic supremacists. Is this the sort of man our next president should be associating with? Does Perry really need Norquist to carry over his tax-cutting message? Does he know about Norquist’s unsavory ties? Does he care? Do Republican candidates need Norquist so much that they have to put up with his taint?
Why can’t such questions even be asked? And why can’t Perry’s ties to the Aga Khan likewise be investigated? The Ismailis are a peaceful sect; however, what Pamela Geller uncovered in her article on Perry Wednesday ought to raise at least a few eyebrows even during the current Perry pep rally. Geller reveals in her article that in 2008, the Aga Khan Development Network signed three agreements with the Syrian Government, and that “between 2003 and 2008,” the Aga Khan’s group “spent $40 million to develop business in Syria.”
Syria has been listed by the State Department as among the State Sponsors of Terrorism since December 29, 1979, and, as Geller notes, “for years has allowed the jihad terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah to operate with impunity out of Damascus.”
Nor is that all. Another Aga Khan organization, the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, is one of the owners of the Bank al-Habib in Pakistan. In 2007, Daniel Pearl’s widow Mariane sued that bank, charging that it had funded al-Qaeda and was involved in killing Daniel Pearl. Those charges have never been answered.
In a 2006 interview with Spiegel, the Aga Khan revealed himself to be no friend of the freedom of speech. He complained that “many young Muslims feel because they think that the Western society has the intention of marginalizing or damaging them” and noted that “anyone who knows the faith of Islam, for example, would have known that the caricatures of the prophet were profoundly offensive to all Muslims.” Indeed; but what was one to do about it? The Aga Khan called for self-censorship, and all too many in the West are only too happy to oblige him in that, whatever the implications may be for the freedom of speech. “I am told,” he said, “that there was an internal debate between the editors of that publication and they actually knew what they were doing. They took a risk and somebody should have said to them, Why get into that situation?”
Why indeed? Maybe to uphold the principles by which a free society can resist tyranny?
Can all this really be waved away by an avowal that the Ismailis are peaceful? Is it really just an exercise in guilt by association to ask Perry about actions by the Aga Khan’s various organizations? Or do those actions suggest that the Aga Khan is not as peaceful as he may seem, and that Perry is less than discriminating in his associations than he should be, and certainly that any president should be?
Certainly, for America’s sake, it is imperative that Barack Obama be defeated in 2012. But that is no excuse to accept any candidate who looks as if he could beat him, no matter how potentially damaging his associations or poor his judgment.
Rick Perry needs to be vetted. He, and all candidates, must be vetted.