Jerry Boykin: Romney’s new Muslim-bashing pal

Romney meets with Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, who has said Islam "should not be protected under the First Amendment"

Topics: Mitt Romney, Islamophobia, Michele Bachmann,

Jerry Boykin: Romney's new Muslim-bashing palLieutenant General William G. Boykin (Credit: U.S. Army)

He may be too extreme for West Point and George W. Bush, but apparently not for Mitt Romney. Politico reports today that the Republican presidential nominee met with retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, who is now a highly controversial anti-Islam activist, in a private conclave with four other social conservative leaders in Denver last week. The day after the meeting reportedly took place, Romney dodged a question on Rep. Michele Bachmann’s witch hunt against Muslims in the U.S. government. “I’m not going to tell other people what things to talk about. Those are not things that are part of my campaign,” he said at a press availability about Bachmann’s allegations last Friday.

Boykin is best known for earning a public rebuke from President Bush himself in 2003 for his vitriolic anti-Islamic rhetoric. Boykin, in uniform at the time, gave a speech portraying the war against Islamist militants as a Christian struggle against Satan, and suggested that Muslims worship an ”idol” and not ”a real God.” Some Republican lawmakers spoke out against him, as well as the president, who said, Boykin’s opinions “didn’t reflect” his or the government’s views. A year later, a Department of Defense investigation determined that Boykin had violated three internal rules while delivering his controversial anti-Islamic speeches.

Since then, Boykin has taken up fighting the perceived threat of Shariah law full-time. As People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch blog notes, “his rhetoric is often bigoted, and he regularly traffics in wild-eyed conspiracy theories — like the one about Obama creating a Hitler-style militia to force Marxism on the American people.” In 2010, he joined with Frank Gaffney, a key anti-Islamic activist, to lead an effort to produce a massive report on the threat of Sharia law.



For all this, he was forced to withdraw from a speaking invitation at West Point under intense pressure in January of this year. More recently, he was appointed to a senior position at the social conservative Family Research Council. And that’s how he ended up meeting privately with Romney.

Two other members of the group that met with Romney, social conservative activists Gary Bauer and James Dobson, signed on to a letter to House Speaker John Boehner praising Bachmann’s “good judgment, undeniable courage, and great patriotism” for “bravely demanding answers” about potential Muslim Brotherhood infiltration in the U.S. government. Boykin, Right Wing Watch notes, signed on to a separate letter expressing “strong support for congressional efforts to illuminate and address the danger posed by influence operations mounted by the Muslim Brotherhood against government agencies.”

Boykin’s rhetoric goes beyond the careful position most activists tend to stake out — condemn Islamists, but praise “peaceful, pro-America” Muslims. Boykin, on the other hand, goes right after the religion itself, saying Islam “should not be protected under the First Amendment.” He’s declared that there should be “no mosques in America” because “a mosque is an embassy for Islam and they recognize only a global caliphate.”

Considering that Romney’s own faith has repeatedly come under attack over the past century and half, one would think he would be more sympathetic to the plight of religious minorities in this country and not associate himself, whether publicly or privately, with such extremists.

Alex Seitz-Wald

Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at aseitz-wald@salon.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

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