The Republican National Committee is heading to the Holy Land, compliments of a hate group that has denigrated Muslims, African Americans, the LGBT community and even Jews.
But the RNC isn’t answering any questions about its American Family Association-funded trip, scheduled to begin tomorrow. Email and telephone messages left Friday with Kirsten Kukowski, the RNC’s national press secretary, were not returned. Presumably the trip is still on despite a week of bad press for the AFA.
Last week, the SPLC wrote to all 168 members of the RNC urging them not to accompany the AFA on the trip because of the group’s long track record of bigotry and hate. The SPLC has named the AFA as a hate group due to its history of making false, demonizing statements about the LGBT community.
Longtime AFA Bryan Fischer, for example, has claimed that “Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler … the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews.” He has also characterized African Americans as “people who rut like rabbits.”
The AFA responded by seeking to distance itself from Fischer and redefine its character by removing him from his duties as its chief spokesman and director of issues analysis. Fischer, however, will remain as a talk show host on the AFA’s radio network – a bullpen of bigoted pundits known for incendiary statements.
In a letter this week to the Southern Poverty Law Center, AFA general counsel Patrick J. Vaughn wrote, “AFA has concluded that it must renounce some statements made by American Family Radio talk-show host Bryan Fischer. In its 37-year history, AFA has never held these views and wishes to clarify that it still rejects such sentiments.”
SPLC President Richard Cohen responded in a letter, “[T]he AFA’s 11th-hour disavowal of Mr. Fischer appears to serve only one purpose: to give the AFA a degree of plausible deniability while it continues to spew hateful rhetoric. It’s a shell game and a transparent one at that.”
While the AFA has taken a job title away from Fischer, he isn’t the only mouthpiece spewing hate on its network. AFA officials, including its president, Tim Wildmon, and founder, Don Wildmon, also have made similarly bigoted statements. “Hollywood and the theater world is heavily influenced by Jewish people,” Don Wildmon once said.
The RNC has predictably chosen to remain nearly silent on these developments, and at least presumably, some of its members are still planning to make the trip to Israel. Kukowski told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that they were “glad AFA has severed ties with him.”
But just like the AFA trying to weather the storm by “rejecting” Fischer’s statements while keeping him on the payroll, the RNC not talking about the trip won’t make the questions about its relationship with a known hate group go away.