President Trump’s pick to lead NASA, U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, faced criticism this week for his skepticism of climate change and his conservative stances on homosexuality.
But it was Bridenstine’s associations with anti-Muslim extremists like Frank Gaffney Jr. that was perhaps the most alarming revelation to emerge from his Senate confirmation hearing.
Gaffney is the founder of the anti-Muslim hate group Center for Security Policy (CSP), known for propagating paranoid conspiracy theories about the supposed infiltration of the federal government by the Muslim Brotherhood. Gaffney’s CSP is so extreme that it has been banned from participating even in the conservative conference CPAC.
But Gaffney isn’t too extreme for Bridenstine. The representative from Oklahoma has appeared on Gaffney’s radio show seven different times. Even so, when Sen. Tammy Duckworth pushed him Wednesday to explain their association, Bridenstine denied knowledge of Gaffney’s Muslim-bashing.
“Ma’am, I am not aware of that,” Bridenstine told Duckworth. “I didn’t know that he had ever made those comments. If I did know that, I would have refuted it.”
It was the same story with David Horowitz. He’s the founder of an anti-Muslim hate group whose mission, according to its website, is to “combat the efforts of the radical left and its Islamist allies to destroy American values.”
In 2012 — and again in 2016 — Bridenstine attended the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s conference, but denied knowing that we have designated it an anti-Muslim hate group.
“I am not aware of that,” Bridenstine told Duckworth.
It is clear that people with ties to extremists like Gaffney and Horowitz cannot be effective leaders for all Americans. Yet Bridenstine appears likely to be confirmed to lead NASA — and others who have extremist ties are already in positions of power within the Trump administration.
This week we announced a new tool, one we’re calling Hate in the White House. It’s a monthly roundup not only of the Trump administration’s associations with hate groups like CSP and the David Horowitz Freedom Center, but of the infiltration of extremist ideas themselves into the administration’s rhetoric and policymaking.
You can see instances of extremism in October here, and anticipate another roundup at the end of this month.
The fact that hate has moved from the fringes of society to the White House means it’s even more important for us to call it out.
P.S. Here are some other pieces we think are valuable this week:
- Trump’s newest travel ban still wouldn’t have prevented any terrorism-related deaths by Philip Bump for The Washington Post
- Trans woman murdered in Texas; 23rd in U.S. this year by Trudy Ring for The Advocate
- Patterns of death in the South still show the outlines of slavery by Anna Marie Barry-Jester for Five Thirty Eight
- Trump’s anti-Islam rhetoric convinced these Muslims they should run for office by Talal Ansari for BuzzFeed News