As Jim Dwyer reported in The New York Times yesterday, you can't get a mosque built in Basking Ridge, New Jersey -- even if you're the ex-mayor:
In a prosperous New Jersey suburb about an hour west of Manhattan, a retired AT&T executive decided with some friends to open a mosque in the town where he has lived for nearly 40 years, been on the board of education, led a task force to create the town’s community center and even served as mayor....
In November 2011, the group, the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, led by the former mayor, Mohammad Ali Chaudry, bought a four-acre plot in an area of Basking Ridge where zoning permitted houses of worship. The group’s architects and engineers argued that the plan complied by a wide margin with every conceivable building requirement....
After presenting the plan to the board in early 2012, Mr. Chaudry, who has a Ph.D. in economics from Tufts University, predicted that the mosque would be built within the year.
What followed were 39 public hearings, and nearly four years of demands by town officials and planning board members for one change after another. Each solution proposed or agreed to by the Islamic Society led to objections on other grounds....
A leading opponent of the mosque project, who has said that Islamic Shariah law is “one of the greatest threats to American values and liberties,” led a relentless campaign of challenges to virtually every aspect of the project.
That campaign was successful. The permit was finally denied by the planning board of the township that includes Basking Ridge.
The "leading opponent" was this woman:
Lori Caratzola, a resident of Basking Ridge who opposed the mosque, attended virtually all the hearings and regularly put questions to the technical witnesses, said that the board had made a sound decision, strictly on land use grounds.... “I stand by that,” Ms. Caratzola said when asked about her support for the American Public Policy Alliance, which maintains that American legal institutions are under threat from Islamic codes.↓ Story continues below ↓
Those views were irrelevant, she maintained, to the board’s decision.
“Let’s say someone or people did have feelings about Islam -- the fact that every single terrorist attack in the last 20 years was committed by Muslims -- they never spoke about that during the planning board meetings,” Ms. Caratzola said.
This anti-Islam crusade has roots going back several years. As a 2011 Times story explains, the American Public Policy Alliance was formed to spread model legislation throughout the states to combat the nonexistent threat of sharia law in the United States. The legislation was the work of a man named David Yerushalmi.
Working with a cadre of conservative public-policy institutes and former military and intelligence officials, Mr. Yerushalmi has written privately financed reports, filed lawsuits against the government and drafted the model legislation that recently swept through the country -- all with the effect of casting Shariah as one of the greatest threats to American freedom since the cold war.
The message has caught on. Among those now echoing Mr. Yerushalmi’s views are prominent Washington figures like R. James Woolsey, a former director of the C.I.A., and the Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann, who this month signed a pledge to reject Islamic law, likening it to “totalitarian control.”
... The movement took root in January 2006 when Mr. Yerushalmi started the Society of Americans for National Existence.... On the group’s Web site, he proposed a law that would make observing Islamic law, which he likened to sedition, a felony punishable by 20 years in prison. He also began raising money to study whether there is a link between “Shariah-adherent behavior” in American mosques and support for violent jihad.
The project, Mapping Shariah, led Mr. Yerushalmi to Frank Gaffney, a hawkish policy analyst and commentator who is the president of the Center for Security Policy in Washington. Well connected in neoconservative circles, Mr. Gaffney has been known to take polarizing positions (he once argued that President Obama might secretly be Muslim). Mr. Gaffney would emerge as Mr. Yerushalmi’s primary link to a network of former and current government officials, security analysts and grass-roots political organizations....
In 2009, he and Mr. Gaffney laid the groundwork for a project aimed at state legislatures -- the same year that Mr. Yerushalmi received more than $153,000 in consulting fees from Mr. Gaffney’s center, according to a tax form filed by the group....
Mr. Gaffney swiftly drummed up interest in the law, holding conference calls with activists and tapping a network of Tea Party and Christian groups... The American Public Policy Alliance, a nonprofit organization formed that year by a political consultant based in Michigan, began recruiting dozens of lawyers to act as legislative sponsors.
Frank Gaffney's name, as you may recall, showed up in presidential campaign news in December:
On Monday evening, presidential candidate Donald Trump announced that Muslims, including US citizens, should be banned from entering the United States. In his statement he linked to a poll conducted by the Center for Security Policy (CSP), an organization founded by the notorious anti-Muslim extremist Frank Gaffney.
Gaffney has a long history of demonizing Muslims and using CSP to publish misleading reports about alleged "creeping Shariah" in the United States.
As for David Yerushalmi, he's not just an influential, well-connected anti-Muslim extremist...
... Yerushalmi has ... authored several controversial texts about purported Muslim influence in the United States, including a September 2010 CSP report titled Shariah: The Threat to America. The report, which was endorsed by several Republican Party figures like Pete Hoekstra and Michele Bachmann ... advocates banning those who espouse Sharia from holding public office or serving in the U.S. armed forces, and prosecuting those who practice sharia.
He's also a garden-variety bigot who wrote this:
“But if standardized testing suggests a racial component to IQ, if the New York City and national murder statistics suggest there is a racial component to murder, why is that necessarily a bad racism? With all of the liberal talk of evolution and biology, why do people find it so difficult to confront the facts that some races perform better in sports, some better in mathematical problem solving, some better in language, some better in Western societies and some better in tribal ones?”
“There is a reason the founding fathers did not give women or black slaves the right to vote. You might not agree or like the idea but this country’s founders, otherwise held in the highest esteem for their understanding of human nature and its affect [sic] on political society, certainly took it seriously. Why is that? Were they so flawed in their political reckonings that they manhandled the most important aspect of a free society -- the vote? If the vote counts for so much in a free and liberal democracy as we ‘know’ it today, why did they limit the vote so dramatically?”
Yerushalmi has suggested that Caucasians are inherently more receptive to republican forms of government than blacks -- an argument that's consistent with SANE's mission statement, which emphasizes that "America was the handiwork of faithful Christians, mostly men, and almost entirely white." And in an article published at the website Intellectual Conservative, Yerushalmi, who is Jewish, suggests that liberal Jews "destroy their host nations like a fatal parasite." Unsurprisingly, then, Yerushalmi offered the lone Jewish defense of Mel Gibson, after the actor’s anti-Semitic tirade in 2006. Gibson, he wrote, was simply noting the "undeniable Jewish liberal influence on western affairs in the direction of a World State."
When you want to start a mosque in a small town in New Jersey -- even if you used to be the town's mayor -- you're not just dealing with your neighbors. You're dealing with a massive national network made up of hatemongers like these, all of whom have been saying things Donald Trump is saying now for a long, long time. The roots of this hate go very deep.
By the way, Lori Caratzola isn't a Trump supporter -- she's a "coalition chair" on the Ted Cruz campaign's New Jersey leadership team, focusing on the Second Amendment. She's a member of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society because, well, of course she is.
So, yes, Donald Trump must be stopped. But his campaign is just the tip of the iceberg.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog