Rick Perry Is Not the '5th Column Candidate'

Meanwhile, some (including myself, at Commentary) have defended Perry’s relationship with the Ismailis, arguing that this Shia Muslim community represents a relatively moderate, minority sect of Islam in the United States. I wrote:

Rather than reaching out -- as both presidents Bush and Obama mistakenly did -- to problematic organizations associated with the Muslim Brotherhood’s expressly political agenda, Perry’s choice to engage with a more "progressive" group is a good sign.

One of these problematic organizations, the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations, noticed this too; they were clearly disappointed in not being able to influence Perry. The Texas Independent reported CAIR’s local spokesman’s negative initial reaction to Perry’s relationship with the more moderate Ismailis, saying the governor “may feel safer with [Muslim] minority groups with less connectivity.” But given CAIR’s links to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, the governor’s lack of this kind of "connectivity" is a virtue.

Indeed, from a national security perspective, Perry’s meeting with the Ismaili community and its leaders is vastly preferable to meeting with a host of other, more problematic American Muslim organizations, like CAIR, the Islamic Society of North America, and others who were named unindicted coconspirators in US v. Holy Land Foundation, the largest terrorist financing trial in U.S. history. Federal judges have found that these groups trace their history and ideological agenda to the Muslim Brotherhood and its promotion of political Islam.

The goal of CAIR and other Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups is to get Perry -- and every candidate of both party -- to engage with them as the authentic voices that represent American Muslims. In this way, these groups would be able to shape a narrative on national security that introduces counterfactual issues and obscures the nature of the enemy we fight: jihadists fighting to implement shariah law. Rather than attack Perry’s relationship to the Ismailis, anti-jihad activists should encourage the governor and his team to reach out to the newly-formed American Islamic Leadership Coalition to better educate themselves on these issues from this group’s unabashedly pro-American and anti-shariah perspective.

As proof of the malevolent influence of Perry’s partnership with the Aga Khan, critics cite the grant given by the Aga Khan Foundation to the Muslim Histories and Culture Project in Texas, premised on extending education about Islam in that state’s public school current events, history, and geography classes. While the academic overview of the Project (written at Harvard) is infused with revisionist history and an unmistakably hard pro-Islam slant, there appear to be no expectations to cleave to this line at the local level. By the time the curriculum gets to the classroom, Project-approved lesson plans disregard the revisionism entirely.

In other words, the curriculum on Islam is open to a very “Texas” interpretation, and an example of one such interpretation (PDF) needs a response from Perry’s critics. As David Stein has found, after a careful study of actual lesson plans used in 2009 and an interview with its self-described “Christian Zionist” author Ronald Wiltse. The subject matter addresses al-Qaeda, Hamas, jihad, and shariah in their religious and political contexts. If anything, such a forthright and balanced characterization of the current issues and conflicts between the Muslim world and the West would be a welcome replacement for more problematic approaches in other states’ curricula.