By Charles Sercombe
They say that politics can make strange bedfellows.
And for those unfamiliar with the phrase, it means “that political alliances in a common cause may bring together those of widely differing views,” according to oxfordreference.com.
And that appears to be the case with Hamtramck Mayor Amer Ghalib, a Muslim, and Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor for President Trump, a QAnon follower and Christian nationalist.
Consider too, Flynn once said “Islam is a cancer” and that America needs to become a one-religion country — a Christian nation.
Despite these glaring differences, Ghalib has apparently found common ground with Flynn, and has met with him twice – most recently at Azal Hall in Hamtramck (on Holbrook) where about 20-30 Yemeni-American community leaders, GOP members, and others were invited.
And just what is this common ground?
Flynn talked for over an hour about the issue of LGBTQ rights and how schools are supposedly indoctrinating children, as well as on “woke” culture, critical race theory, immigration and the catch-all “family values.”
This is the second time that Ghalib has met with Flynn. He had earlier gone to a rally Flynn was at in Sterling Heights.
Flynn, 64, a right-wing conservative who has been associated with the Proud Boys, served under Trump for just a few weeks — before being fired for lying to Vice President Pence regarding interactions with Russians.
The former three-star Army general was then convicted of lying to the FBI about those interactions he had with Russia, and that country’s meddling in the 2016 president election.
Trump later pardoned Flynn.
Ghalib started the meeting by saying that he is not a member of any political party, and stressed more than once to “focus on what unites us, and rise above what is trying to divide us.”
Also speaking at the meeting was Republican Ethnic Vice Chair Bernadette Smith, who said the meeting “is a history maker today, and we’re going to give our God all the glory and honor for this meeting.”
Smith, who was convicted of a felony in 2011 for welfare fraud, further stressed that the Muslim community can join with Christians to “take down what the enemy is trying to do to all of us.”
She was also aligned with Trump, and at one time claimed that Mexican immigrants are trying to “destroy the United States from within.”
During the two-hour meeting, Flynn talked about 20 minutes, and then invited questions.
In a curious verbal tick, Flynn often punctuated the ending of sentences with the rhetorical question: “Right?”
Flynn started out his talk by complimenting Ghalib, who is Hamtramck’s first Yemeni-American to become mayor, by saying:
“I saw something in this young man. He’s really sharp. He’s a leader,” and also that Ghalib, 42, “has a strategic view of what’s going on in this country.”
Flynn then launched into what’s being “done to children,” referencing LGBTQ reading materials in schools, and children being allowed to become transgender.
That, he repeatedly stressed, is a “red line” for him.
“How did the U.S. get here?” he said. He likened LGBTQ reading material for students to “pornography.”
One question that was repeatedly asked by some of the Muslim attendees was how they could trust the Republican Party, since it has a history of Muslim bashing.
Flynn did not directly answer that question, and said that he is not a Democrat and that he is “not a fan of the Republican Party.”
As for the Democratic Party, Flynn said it “no longer exists.”
“People who have taken over the Democratic Party … (are) moving us toward a decline, a decline of democracy.”
According to the Arab American Institute, 40 percent of the country’s Arab-Americans vote Democratic, and 30 percent prefer Republicans, with the rest uncommitted.
The Review reached out to State Rep. Abraham Aiyash, a Democrat and the first Yemeni-American from Hamtramck to be elected to the state legislature, about this growing alliance between Muslims and Republicans, and what he thinks of Ghalib aligning with Flynn, but he did not respond. He did, however, respond as to whether he endorsed Ghalib during his mayoral campaign.
“For the record, I did not endorse anyone in the 2021 Hamtramck municipal elections,” Aiyash said, ignoring the other two questions asked by The Review.
Aiyash has received backlash from Hamtramck’s Muslim community for his co-sponsorship of the state’s expansion of civil rights for the LGBTQ community.
Conservatives aligned with the Republican Party have been actively courting Arab-Americans over so-called “family values” issues.
Flynn went on to stress that, in order for people to reclaim their power over government, they must vote, although he also said that “I just don’t buy that we have fair elections anymore.”
Flynn did not explain what he meant by that. Flynn, a convicted felon, also said, without a hint of irony, that 80 percent of the country “doesn’t trust the rule of law.”
Flynn also touched on the hot-button issue of drag queen reading programs for kids, saying: “Trump didn’t cause drag queen hour. This is the road to cultural decline.”
Drag queen reading hours long-preceded the Trump administration.
Near the end of the meeting, Flynn circled back to the political power the Muslim community has – or could have.
“Don’t allow yourself to be used,” he said. “It’s not up to me what the Muslim community will do in America.”
As for the difference between Democrats and Republicans, Flynn said “That ain’t the Republican Party going after children.”
It was not clear what he meant by that.
After the meeting, Mayor Ghalib posted photos of the meeting, including photos of Flynn with him and Councilmembers Mohammed Alsomiri and Khalil Refai, as well as Hamtramck School Boardmember Abdulmalik Algahaim.
Ghalib went on to say, on his Facebook page, that Democrats were not invited to the meeting—or, as he said it:
“We chose those who want to attend, and avoid inviting those who are organically or ideologically associated with the other party, and maintain good relationships with them without causing them or us any embarrassment.
“I think we represent the views of a majority of those who chose us and trust our leadership and hold us accountable, and we will only be as they think of us.”
Posted Sept. 29, 2023