(Promoted by Colorado Pols)
The theme of this year’s Western Conservative Summit was “Defending Religious Freedom,” yet the event’s most notable speech was a shockingly Islamophobic rant by WCS founder John Andrews. He said Muslims don’t deserve religious freedom and that he just doesn’t see how “good and faithful Muslims can be good and faithful Americans.”
Prior to his speech Andrews was honored by the event organizers with a lengthy tribute video featuring various politicians and leaders praising his life’s work. Among those showering Andrews with glowing words was Senator Cory Gardner. Gardner then appeared in person as the speaker immediately following Andrews’ anti-Muslim diatribe.
Watch Gardner’s segment of the tribute video, clips of Andrews’ speech, and then Gardner’s cheerful appearance on stage, in which he says it’s an honor to be there.
The Denver Post reported the irony of the event’s creator delivering this speech “while standing beneath a banner on the importance of religious liberty.” Two days later, the Post’s editorial board didn’t pull any punches:
“Andrews used language of hate to demonize a group of people based on their religion. It is intolerance and a form of small-scale terrorism.”
While local coverage of the conference and Andrews’ speech was thorough, Cory Gardner’s decision to ignore Andrews’ unrepentantly Islamophobic speech received its first national attention today. Think Progress’ Josh Israel noted Gardner’s failure to condemn the hate:
In [a tribute video honoring Andrews], Gardner praised Andrews for his “leadership” and for teaching everyone in Colorado “about limited government” and that “government doesn’t need to be the end-all, be-all for the state or the country.”
Andrews then delivered an 18-minute diatribe, warning that freedom of religion should not apply to devout Muslims and warning that Marxism and Islam are America’s enemies…
Gardner himself then took the stage. Rather than condemn the remarks or even disagree with them, he launched into a speech defending rural America against “inaccurate and hateful descriptions” on television and social media, and accused the “radical left” of focusing only on “coastal and ivory tower elites” and embracing dangerous socialism.
The full video of the evening’s program is available here, beginning with the Andrews tribute video, then his speech, and then Sen. Gardner’s speech.