On Monday, former neurosurgeon Ben Carson was bailed out of the controversy over his views of Islam by an unexpected ally. Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called a news conference to "ask Mr. Ben Carson to withdraw from the presidential race."
The mild disrespect of calling a medical doctor "mister" was apparently unintentional, but the sheer audacity of CAIR's ask lit a fire on the right. CAIR, which plays a role in Islamic controversies similar to the one the Anti-Defamation League plays in Jewish ones, is not viewed that way by elements of the conservative movement. To many, like Center for Security Policy founder Frank Gaffney, it's viewed as a veritable fifth column that may be "engaged in money-laundering foreign funds to pay for civilizational jihad here." The mainstream media's stenographic coverage of CAIR and Carson sent some leading conservative voices into Carson's camp.
"We are confronting a problem called sharia that is the authoritative version of Islam, not practiced by a lot of Muslims, but those who do have an obligation to force it on the rest of us," Gaffney told liberal radio host Alan Colmes. "It is absolutely anti-constitutional."