A New York Times article contains the following quote:

“They essentially, like termites, hollow out the structure of the civil society and other institutions,” Mr. Gaffney said, “for the purpose of creating conditions under which the jihad will succeed.”

However, no source is mentioned. The article provides a link to a Breitbart radio program, but the comment is not there. Other sources I found point at the Times article.

Did Mr. Gaffney indeed make this comment?

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    I wonder if "they" meant Muslims or a specific group like the Muslim Brotherhood? – DavePhD Feb 2 '17 at 15:50
  • That's what I was wondering, which is why I'm interested in the wider context. – Yuval Filmus Feb 2 '17 at 15:54
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    @JanDoggen According to Wikipedia, his advocacy group has ties to the Trump administration and their work has been cited by Trump and Bachmann. Also, Cruz planned to make him National Security Advisor. So while he seems to be a conspiracy theorist, he also seems notable enough to check out claims from or about him. – tim Feb 2 '17 at 16:32
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    My guess is that Gaffney makes the quote about the Muslim Brotherhood in this 10 part series centerforsecuritypolicy.org/the-muslim-brotherhood-in-america but I can't check right now. He may also have gotten this phrasing from Erick Stakebeck who wrote "the Muslim Brotherhood favors a gradual, termite-like approach, burrowing deeply into a host society and eating away at it slowly from within" in his 2013 book The Brotherhood: America's New Great Enemy – DavePhD Feb 2 '17 at 17:52
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    -1: Misses the woods for the trees. We know Gaffney's attitudes to Islam, whether he made this statement or not. We know the comparison itself is just an analogy, not a question of fact. The title brings up the political rhetorical trick of blasting someone for their choice of comparator, without examining whether the analogy is fair. The result is this question is about measuring how big the political stick is to beat Republicans with, not about what is true. – Oddthinking Feb 2 '17 at 23:12

This metaphor is commonly used. From the Wikipedia article White anting

White-anting is an Australian term for the process of internal erosion of a foundation. It is often used in reference to groups such as political parties or organisations where information from group insiders is 'leaked' or used to undermine the goals of the group. The Macquarie Dictionary says the verb "to white-ant" means "to subvert or undermine from within".

The article has no mention of it being used to denigrate a race or religion.

So while it may or may not be accurate to say he used that metaphor, it isn't accurate to say he compared members of a religious group with termites.

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  • This does not really answer the question, though -- the question is not whether he was the first, or unique person to say this, but whether he said it at all. – Sklivvz Feb 3 '17 at 2:47
  • @Sklivvz it answers the question of "Did Frank Gaffney compare Muslims to termites?" – Andrew Grimm Feb 3 '17 at 4:19

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