ACT for America Declares Culture War
"America is under attack. Our country is being transformed before our very eyes," ACT for America founder Brigitte Gabriel stated on September 4 in a ballroom in Crystal City at Virginia's Hyatt Regency hotel. ACT's tenth-anniversary national security conference brought together over 200 ACT activists nationwide for a clarion call of political warfare to preserve American freedoms against myriad subversive Islamist and leftist threats.
Gabriel described how, since she founded ACT in 2002, "today the national security threat is no longer confined to radical Islamic terrorism." ACT is not a one-trick pony; rather, the group must contend with numerous others like Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and MS-13 gangs. Against these criminal and totalitarian organizations, "ACT for America is today the largest grassroots national security organization in the country with one million members."
Gabriel emphasized the stark polarization between the worldviews of freedom-loving conservative groups like ACT and their opponents. "Our enemy is dedicated to destroying us," she said. "No matter what you do, they are going to call you a hater." Accordingly, she dismissed appeals that "we need to convert the unconverted" with "don't waste your time" and focused on the mobilization of committed allies.
Later in the afternoon, Zionist Organization of America national president Morton Klein echoed Gabriel's observations about leftist slanders. "Doesn't the left love to use that word, 'racist'?" he said while noting conference protesters outside. "Without that word, they would have nothing to say." By contrast, as he demonstrated with his presentation's reiteration of past arguments, ACT is among few groups that "tell the whole courageous, rational truth about the Arab-Islamic war against the West and Israel."
Following Gabriel in the speaker schedule, former Republican congressman and United States Army lieutenant colonel Allen West reflected her militant mood. He expressed anger at the necessity of the instructions given to conference attendees to avoid speaking to the media and displaying conference badges outside conference events:
That should not happen in these great United States of America, that people who believe in our fundamental principles and values are forced underground by people that who believe in a fundamental transformation of the greatest nation the world has ever known.
West noted that some of the greatest modern threats to America's exceptional experiment in liberty come from ideological struggles in the wider culture. Thus:
[The] most important elected position in the United States of America, it is not president, it is not senator, it is not congressman, it is not governor – it is school board. So I want to see more ACT for America people out there running for school board.
West's remarks received elaboration from later speakers like the conservative political mobilization wunderkind Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA. Western civilization's future depends upon an "ideological, cultural battle on college and high school campuses, and we are losing horribly, terribly," he stated. He noted that 85 percent of $100 billion in the last decade's college donations came from registered Republicans, who "have funded the Marxist indoctrination camps of tomorrow." Accordingly, conservatives must implement be a "complete and total divestment from giving philanthropically to our schools."
Kirk noted radical academia's central role in the transformation of a Democratic Party that in generations past shared a pro-American outlook. Democratic leaders today are "committed anti-American Marxists that want to destroy this country." This situation demands explicit condemnation of leftists' "sick and twisted morals," therefore "don't give them the gift of saying these are good people."
Unrestricted immigration's dangers formed a key conference theme, including an entire panel with experts like the former immigration law enforcement officer Michael Cutler from the Center for Immigration Studies. He noted that America's immigration policies are a bipartisan "failure by design; [they are] doing exactly what the elite wants, and [they go] against everything that every Americans wants." Rather than being "broken," as often described, the "immigration system is the most efficient system in the entire federal government" as a system that "delivers an unlimited supply of cheap, exploitable foreign labor."
Cutler's remarks on immigration reform reflected that improved border security stanching the influx of illegal aliens into America would reduce American social welfare spending and drug crime. Therefore, "within a year or two, the wall pays for itself." Meanwhile, his fellow panelist, Numbers USA deputy director Chris Chmielenski, discussed ending "birthright citizenship," which allows illegal aliens and visitors to acquire American citizenship for children born on American soil in a "birth tourism industry."
Gabriel during her morning address worried that Muslim immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa "basically have no loyalty to our country," a theme Ryan Fournier elaborated upon during his lunch address. The Students for Trump national chairman denounced leftists as "see[ing] the world through a fantasy lens. Their fanatical pursuit of diversity and cultural enrichment is a threat to Western civilization." Particularly in Europe, "multiculturalism" and "open border policies have led to a wave of terror attacks," such that "left-wing politicians have blood on their hands." America should learn from Europe's negative experience that "there is a clear difference between Eastern and Western cultures, and blending the two simply does not work."
The Palestinian-American convert from Islam to Christianity Hazem Farraj confirmed in his afternoon address that "some cultures are just better than others." Living in Jerusalem's Muslim Arab community, where his conversion prompted death threats, he has "been on the other side" of Western civilization, while he has "friends who are running from the culture of Islamism." In his remarks, he contrasted the United Nations' 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an "almost sacred" document, with sharia oppression in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation's 1990 Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam. His slides stated that globally, "Islam is the 'fastest growing religion' BECAUSE it's the most ENFORCED," while "20% of 1.6 billion Muslims are secret unbelievers."
Various anti-Western Islamic doctrines also concerned the sharia expert Stephen Coughlin, who addressed how, under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, "Turkey is taking operational control of the Muslim Brotherhood" worldwide. Coughlin highlighted Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs or Diyanet, a ministry expressly instituted in Turkey's 1924 constitution that financially supports mosques all around the world. Noting the Diyanet Center of America in Lanham, Maryland, outside Washington, D.C., he stressed the political nature of such a Diyanet institution and warned to "never think about it as a mosque."
Coughlin noted the expressed hopes of Diyanet leaders to create a "counter-state" capability among Muslim communities in places like Europe. Diyanet president Ali Erbas had indicated that the Diyanet will demand from European law enforcement authorities cooperation with Diyanet-led Muslim communities, a "direct claim of jurisdiction." "If the Europeans want to push back, there will be blood in the streets," Coughlin warned.
Center for Security Policy senior fellow Deborah Weiss in turn presented her past research on Hollywood's "multiple Islamist influence operations" that seek to "dominate the information battlespace" in a "stealth or civilizational jihad." The "extremely well connected" nature of a leftist-Islamist "red-green axis" in the movie industry and beyond had raised fears that conservatives like her were fighting a losing battle. Yet she rightly rallied in an "ideological war" that "Islam might seem like Goliath, but we're David. ... Pick up the sword of truth and soldier on."