Late last month, as part of a massive shakeup of the National Security Council, National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster cashiered a number of NSC members identified with his predecessor, Michael Flynn. Among them was a staffer who was under fire for writing a horribly xenophobic memo detailing the supposed threats Trump faces from within this country and abroad. But it turns out that memo was a model of sanity compared to a talk he gave to a small group at the Republican National Convention. He warned that being a true American means hating Islam.
McMaster has spent most of the last six months quietly pushing out NSC staffers seen as too close to Flynn. Among them was Rich Higgins, the NSC’s director of strategic planning. He landed in McMaster’s doghouse when word got out about a memo he’d penned in May called “POTUS and Political Warfare.” Foreign Policy got its hands on the memo on Thursday; read it here. Besides peddling the right-wing shibboleth that the Russian hacking investigation is a false flag, it claims that Trump is under attack from those peddling “cultural Marxist memes”–such as “‘deep state’ actors,” globalists, bankers, Islamists, and establishment elements in both major parties.
The memo reads like something you would expect to see on Breitbart, especially during Steve Bannon’s tenure there. However, once it came to light, the West Wing was not amused. On the week of July 17-21, he was haled before lawyers with the White House Counsel’s office and asked to explain the memo. Apparently his explanation wasn’t satisfactory, because on July 21, Deputy National Security Adviser Ricky Waddell forced Higgins to resign. According to Foreign Policy, McMaster got his hands on the memo and suspected that Higgins was referring to him.
But this isn’t the first time that Higgins has shown his true colors. People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch discovered that last summer, Higgins delivered a talk to several RNC delegates from Maine. Virginia delegate and activist Ron Hedlund sat in on the meeting, and got a clip.
Higgins claimed that Trump was being unfairly portrayed as “some sort of a xenophobic racist” just because of his unabashed love for this country. He lamented that this country’s political climate had changed to the point that “anybody who loves America is a racist.”
Later, Higgins proceeded to tell us what it takes to love this country, at least by his standard.
“I honestly think we lost the war on terrorism on September 11, 2001 when George Bush said Islam is a ‘religion of peace’ that wouldn’t stand for this. You don’t have to hate all Muslims. I have Muslim friends. But you have to hate Islam. If you’re an American and you don’t, then you don’t understand your own political philosophy.”
Well, at least Higgins is being honest. His idea of loving this country would sound disgustingly racist and xenophobic to the ears of any fair-minded American on either side of the aisle. Most of my more conservative friends would strongly disagree that being American means hating a particular religion.
To understand how truly repugnant this sentiment is, replace “Muslims” with “Jews” and “Islam” with “Judaism.” Anyone who made a statement like that would have been rightly branded as a neo-Nazi, and hauled out of the convention on a rail. But because Higgins was slamming Muslims, it passed with more or less a whimper.
This White House has no shortage of loathsome characters. But the mere thought that a man who maintains that being American means hating Islam as a religion was even considered to serve at such a high level is nothing short of a disgrace.
(featured image courtesy Hedlund’s Facebook)