At a 2014 Fox Business panel, Kayleigh McEnany was all smiles. Sitting next to her was Gavin McInnes, the co-founder of the white nationalist group Proud Boys. Her smiles persisted even as he said that Muslims are genetically inferior because of “inbreeding”.
She also appeared to agree with McInnes when he argued that Muslims are “totally irrational”.
On Tuesday, she was appointed as Donald Trump’s new White House press secretary, replacing Stephanie Grisham, who held the job for just nine months and did not hold any press briefings.
McEnany, 31, a Harvard Law graduate who was serving as the Trump campaign’s spokeswoman, is now the US president’s fourth press secretary since he took office early in 2017.
Siding with a self-avowed white supremacist has not been the only instance that McEnany has made anti-Muslim pronouncements.
“Obama endlessly preaches tolerance of Islam but never mentions this – ‘Genocide: Christian Population in Iraq Drops 80% in a Decade’,” she wrote on Twitter in 2016, rejecting then-President Barack Obama’s assertion that Islam was a peaceful religion.
The number of Iraqi Christians has dwindled in recent years largely due to sectarian violence and civil unrest ushered in by former President Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Trump’s new press secretary has also pushed back against the idea that US foreign policy in the Middle East may be contributing to anger that causes militant attacks.
“US foreign policy has done a lot of good for the Muslim people. I think Bush liberated 15 million Muslims from the hands of dictators,” she said in 2014.
As a Trump advocate, in 2017, she argued that “deadly political correctness perpetuates terrorism,” berating European governments’ immigration policies.
‘Anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant hatred is not a disqualifier to serve in the Trump administration. In fact, it represents its twisted values’
– Robert McCaw, CAIR
“Refusing to utter the words ‘radical Islamic extremism,’ opening the door to millions of half-vetted refugees and decrying the concepts of borders and assimilation have resulted in a culture in crisis – a culture without democratic, freedom-loving identity and constantly under murderous attack from cancers within,” she wrote in a column for the Hill.
Although she would later add a disclaimer that “most immigrants are good and most Muslims are peaceful”, she ends the piece by backing Trump in his feud with London’s Muslim Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Trump had attacked Khan over comments taken out of context in which the mayor called for calm after a deadly militant attack in London.
Khan and Trump had been engaged in a long feud dating back to 2015 when Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”.
At the time, McEnany also defended Trump’s proposal, stressing that his call for a Muslim ban was temporary.
On a CNN appearance late in 2016, she said Islam differs from Christianity and Judaism, citing a false assertion that “90 percent of the Quran is in fact a legal doctrine and is Sharia”.
McEnany is the latest in a long list of Trump appointees that Muslim advocates say hold hostile views towards Islam.
On Tuesday, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) called for McEnany’s immediate dismissal.
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“Trump’s vetting process continues to turn a blind eye when it comes to bigotry, particularly anti-Muslim hatred,” Robert McCaw, CAIR’s government affairs director, told Middle East Eye.
“Under normal circumstances, President Trump’s new press secretary wouldn’t have had the opportunity to serve in the White House the moment such bigotry was revealed.
“Anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant hatred is not a disqualifier to serve in the Trump administration. In fact, it represents its twisted values.”
The White House did not return MEE’s request for comment.