© Photo

Shaymaa Ismaa’eel

Editor’s Note: The Islamophobia depicted in this photo is overt and easily recognized. The Islamophobia practiced at conferences like the Midwest National Security Conference is disguised as “national security concerns.” The photo above was not taken at the MNSC, but merely serves as an illustration.

Kenneth Dragotta, a prominent Waukesha County Republican, has been linked by sources to the Midwest National Security Conference held at the Waukesha County Expo Center on May 10 and 11.

The conference brought together dubious experts on national security with a number of fringe characters who engage in anti-Muslim rhetoric at similar conferences nationwide. The event was invitation only. An invitation could be obtained by supplying contact information on the conference Web site, which provided no information about conference organizers.

The Midwest National Security Conference was promoted on the Republican Party of Milwaukee County Web site.

Dragotta is the President and CEO of Systems Engineering & Automation Corp. of New Berlin and serves as the Elections Vice Chairman of the Republican Party of Waukesha County. In 2011, Systems Engineering, received more than $175,000 in government contracts to provide crankshafts for the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, where United States naval ships and submarines are built and repaired. At the same time, Dragotta was an outspoken critic of the Obama administration.

Dragotta serves on the board of the Center for Security Policy with Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., a noted anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist and one of the co-authors of Shariah: The Threat to America. Gaffney was an Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy in the Reagan Administration, a position he held for seven months.

Gaffney established the Washington D.C.-based Center for Security Policy (CSP), which describes itself as a national security think tank, though it is widely seen as in the business of conspiracy theorizing. The Atlantic reports that Gaffney is “Washington’s most dogged peddler of anti-Muslim conspiracy theories” who has “traveled the country testifying against the construction of mosques,” and arguing that “Islam is a totalitarian political ideology, not a religion.” Donald Trump and former Republican congresswoman Michelle Bachman have cited the CSP as an authority on national security.

Among the guest speakers at the Midwest National Security Conference was Shahram Hadian, a former Muslim who is now a Christian pastor and the founder of TIL (Truth in Love) Ministries. Hadian is a frequent speaker at right-wing conferences who calls Islam “a rising menace in America” and promotes what he has called the “lie” of “a common God” between Islam and Christianity.

Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman was also listed as a speaker at the conference, as was James Simpson, a former budget examiner for the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under presidents Reagan, H.W. Bush, and Clinton. Mr. Simpson is now described as an expert on immigration and refugee resettlement. His most recent book is The Red Green Axis: Refugees, Immigration and the Agenda to Erase America.

Guests also included Phillip Haney, Author of See Something, Say Nothing, which the conference Web site describes as “a best-selling exposé of the Obama Administration’s submission to the goals and policies of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as other Islamic groups operating here in America, and around the world.”

Other speakers were described by the conference Web site as experts in “strategic, operational and tactical intelligence analysis” and included a former CIA officer, a former Marine, and a former Austrian diplomat, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, who in 2017 was charged by the Austrian government with “denigrating religious teachings and committing ‘hate speech’ about the prophet Muhammad.” The Austrian government convicted her after deciding that she had made value judgments partly based on untrue facts and without regard to the historical context.”

Former FBI agent John Gaundolo, another conference speaker, is known for claims that “moderate Muslims are waging stealth jihad” in America as well as statements that two Muslim women elected to Congress in 2018 should have been prevented from serving by the Justice Department.

Kenneth Dragotta could not be reached for comment.