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Rep. Perry: Setting the Record Straight

      A recent letter writer (Why is Rep. Perry associating with hate groups?) falsely claimed that I associate with an “anti-Muslim hate group” because of a recent meeting I had with Ms. Brigitte Gabriel, founder of Act for America. I always appreciate constituent feedback, but need to set the record straight about some of the assertions made in this letter.

      The writer cites the Southern Poverty Law Center as an arbiter for determining “hate groups.” The clearly radical leftist SPLC has a history of recklessly labeling conservative organizations as "hate groups." Where once SPLC’s hate list was reserved for groups like the Aryan Nation and the KKK, in 2010 SPLC started citing Christian groups such as the Family Research Council as hate groups simply for opposing same-sex marriage. Is same-sex marriage a controversial topic — of course; but both sides have heartfelt beliefs that should be allowed the opportunity for debate.

   Unfortunately, this type of intimidation through mischaracterization has become par for the course in our contemporary political climate. The extremist SPLC and other leftist groups in recent years have taken the radical approach of attempting to silence political opposition rather than debating in the arena of ideas. In the United States and other open societies, citizens are supposed to welcome full-throated debate in policy and political matters, and the most persuasive side wins. What does not comport with traditional ideas of fair play is an attempt to win the debate by stigmatizing one side as “haters,” questioning the legitimacy of their opinions and/or trying to force them into silence.

Rep. Perry at 2016 Act for America National Conference with Mariam Ibrahim and her family. At eight months pregnant, Ibrahim was sentenced to death in Sudan for apostasy.

      As an active member of the House Homeland Security Committee, it’s only reasonable that I would meet with ACT for America, the largest grassroots, national security advocacy, non-profit in the Nation, made up of over 400,000 Americans fighting for a safer America. Act for America rightly identified radical Islamist terror as a serious threat to our nation’s security, for which they've been labeled as hateful, or “Islamophobic.”

      Reality suggests that these assertions are as empty as they are cliché. ACT for America consistently has allied with a variety of Muslim scholars to combat their true adversary — radical Islamist terrorism. In fact, at its most recent national conference, to which I was invited in Washington D.C, ACT for America hosted Muslim scholar Raheel Raza who, like so many other Muslims, is fighting against the violently radical interpretation of her faith. In the past, ACT for America honored Mariam Ibrahim and Ayan Hersi Ali for their outspoken activism regarding the intolerance of Islamic-inspired Sharia culture. No reasonable individual could believe that ACT for America, by forming alliances with moderate Muslims, and repeatedly stating their opposition to the specifically radical interpretation of Islam, accurately could be labeled a “hate group.”

Rep. Perry at 2015 Act for America National Conference with Brigitte Gabriel (middle) and Ayaan Hirsi Ali (right). Ali, a Muslim scholar, has fought for years to protect and defend the rights of women from harmful traditional religious practices.

      Our nation clearly is at war with an enemy — radical Islamist terror — that will stop at nothing to destroy every aspect of our civilization. We cannot afford to hinder ourselves by subscribing to absurd distractions such as those levied against truly patriotic groups like ACT for America. Hatred in any form has no place in American politics, nor do deceitful bullying tactics that serve no purpose other than to silence those with whom one disagrees but cannot refute based on facts.

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