The GOP Anti-Muslim Limbo:  How Low Can They Go?

The GOP Anti-Muslim Limbo:  How Low Can They Go?

by Sheila Musaji

The GOP seems to be engaged in an anti-Muslim, anti-Arab Limbo, and have now lowered the bar as low as it can go.  Although our country faces numerous serious challenges - the economy, environment, educational system, infrastructure, two wars, etc. — it seems that “the” issue on the minds of these folks is Islam and Muslims. 

Anti-mosque, anti-Sharia, anti-everything connected with Islam and Muslims seems to be the focus of politicians in the U.S., and particularly of the GOP.

Peter King’s hearings into “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response”  are the latest demonstration of this incredible obsession with all things Muslim.  These hearings didn’t accomplish much, but forced American Muslims to waste a lot of time responding to the allegations raised.  For example, TAM published a series of articles responding various aspects of the first hearing.  The American Muslim Community and Rep. Peter King’s “Islamic” Radicalization Hearings which has a great deal of background on Peter King and these hearings, and an extensive article collection.  -  Peter King’s Hearing: What Was the Point? discussing the content of the hearings, with a collection of articles written after the hearing ended.  -  Existing reports and studies on radicalization in the American Muslim Community and Polls, Surveys, and Statistics Relating to Islam and Muslims  with actual hard evidence so lacking in the hearing.  -  Response of Civic Organizations and Interfaith Community to “Muslim Radicalization” Hearings   - Elected Representatives & Government Officials Who HAVE Questioned Islamophobia with quotes from elected representives and government officials attempting to counter the bias of this hearing both during and before the hearing.  - Peter King’s hearing: witness testimonies - allegations but no facts - Zuhdi Jasser and AIFD - Identified by Rep. King as the Ideal American Muslim Leadership - Does Rep. King’s IRA/Terrorist Connection Matter?Answers to Peter King’s Claims About the American Muslim Community which lays out all of his claims and allegations and provides detailed answers to each.  (e.g. Do Muslims cooperate with law enforcement?  Do Muslims speak out against terrorism and extremism?  Are most Muslims terrorists?  Are 80 to 85% of mosques run by radicals?  Have American Muslim organizations responded to the issue of radicalization?  Are mosques the source of radicalization?  etc.) - The scope of Rep. Kings Hearings Creates Homeland “in"Security

TAM has a much too lengthy article collection to which we continually add the newest unbelievable statements made by individuals who are supposed to represent the citizens of this country.  This collection is titled Islamophobia no longer questioned - even by our elected representatives and it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with listing these due the speed at which these statements are coming at us.  All of the comments that follow in this summary are found in that collection with links to the source.

Such comments as those that follow have also been made by Christian and Jewish clergy and community leaders, members of the media (particularly Fox News), and others.  That is bad enough, but

when our elected representatives, officials of the government, and politicians and military officers make such statements, that amplifies what they say.  It gives a seeming stamp of approval to a general sense of suspicion and bigotry towards American Muslims.

 

These are people who are supposed to be representing and defending all Americans.

There seems to have been a progression from what might generously be considered to be

THOUGHTLESS IGNORANCE

—  Vague statements of unease about Muslims like “you cannot integrate some people into your society”  -  ”It turns out, folks, they [Muslims] are here, they’re among us. We are at war with Islam” (Tom Tancredo, Rick Torres)

—  Objecting to building a community center containing a mosque near the site of the World Trade Center attack as:  “painful and divisive”, “insensitive”, “unwise to build where Americans lost their lives”, “improper”, “an insult”, “a victory mosque”, “a real affront”, “It’s not about religion, and is clearly an aggressive act that is offensive”, “like putting a Nazi sign next to the Holocaust Museum”, “a desecration”, “disrespectful of those who died there”, “It’s a house of worship, but we are at war with Al Qaeda”, “a victory symbol”, “an insult to all Americans”, would “degrade and disrespect”, “a slap in the face to the American people”.  These statements do not show a reasonable concern about who these particular Muslims are, but a display of hatred towards all Muslims and the entire religion of Islam.  This is an outcome of the vicious what everyone “knows” demonization of Islam industry. 

—  Objecting to an Eid holiday postage stamp (Johnny Piper) — Or to Keith Ellison’s use of the Qur’an during the ceremonial photograph session after his swearing in ceremony (Virgil Goode, Roy Moore) — or as 41 Republican members of Congress did, refusing to vote on House resolution (HR 635) that recognized “the Islamic faith as one of the great religions of the world,” rejected “hatred, bigotry and violence directed against Muslims, both in the United States and worldwide” and “[commended] Muslims in the United States and across the globe who have privately and publicly rejected interpretations and movements of Islam that justify and encourage hatred, violence and terror.”

—  “Apologizing” for calling Pres. Obama a Muslim because it was “insulting” or responding “No, ma’am. He is a decent family man”  (Bob Kerry, John McCain)

—  Making bigoted statements like:  “My point is people (who) don’t like us are all over the country, and we know that.”  (Sue Myrick)  or asking a fellow councilman to “say a prayer to your God”  (Don Redman)

—  Insisting on using terms like Islamic terrorism which conflate the religion of Islam with the acts of criminals -  “The greatest danger facing the world is Islamic Terrorism”  - “We have to know our enemy, and it is radical Islam in my judgment”  (John McCain, Michael McCaul)

So many of our representatives have referred to America as a “Christian nation” or expressed concerns about the “danger of Sharia to our Constitution” that those sorts of statements have become commonplace.  Commonplace does not make such bias without consequence.

When this is allowed to pass without any real objections, the bar is lowered, and it then progresses to

GOOD OLD-FASHIONED BIGOTRY

Maligning Muslim Individuals and Organizations Without Evidence:

Repeating outright lies that are inexcusable for anyone with the ability to look up easily obtainable facts.

—  MALIGNING MUSLIMS AS INDIVIDUALS AND AS A COMMUNITY - Calling Muslim interns on Capitol Hill “infiltrators” or “spies”.  Warning of a Muslim “plot to breed terrorist babies who will one day attack America”  -  Saying that “no (American) Muslims cooperate in the war on terror”  - Saying “Never Trust a Man Named Mohamed”  - “We already have a 5th column that is already infiltrating into our colleges, into our universities, into our high schools, into our religious aspect, our cultural aspect, our financial, our political systems in this country. And that enemy represents something called Islam and Islam is a totalitarian theocratic political ideology, it is not a religion.” — “we are not obligated to open our society to any of them,” -  “except for Timothy McVeigh every terrorist was a Muslim” — extremists live in our midst, “even in positions in our government.”  -  Saying that “there are too many mosques in the U.S”  -  “global domination is preached and encouraged by Imams in mosques” (Ginny Brown-Waite, Sue Myrick, Paul Broun, Louis Gohmert, Peter King, Bob Lane,  Frank Lassee, John Shadegg,  Trent Franks, Alan West, Lou Ann Zelenik)

—  MALIGNING MUSLIM ORGANIZATIONS - Calling CAIR “a terrorist organization”, a “Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood entity” - Saying that “85 percent of American Muslim community leaders are an enemy living amongst us”  - Calling Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf “a jihadist”—  Asking if Rauf, who was on a good will mission to the Muslim world on behalf of the US State Department and was deployed in the same way by George W. Bush, is a terrorist in the employ of Shiite Iran.  — “We need to define it and say what it is. And it is evil. Sharia law is incompatible with American jurisprudence and our Constitution”  (Chip Cravaack, Peter King, Rick Lazio, Rick Santorum

Insulting Muslims

—  Refusing to even sit in the same room where a Muslim was leading a prayer (Cary Condotta, Adam Hasner, Lois McMahon, Dan Patrick)

—  Not wanting Muslims to be allowed to pray in a Christian Church (Mike Huckabee)

When this is allowed to pass without any real objections, the bar is lowered, and it then progresses to


EXPRESSIONS OF OUTRIGHT HATRED

—  Suggesting the ethnic cleansing of Arabs from Palestine (Richard Armey, Mike Huckabee)

—  Calling ordinary Muslims and/or Arabs “terrorist sympathizers” and “Islamo-Fascist bastards” and “ragheads”  -  Saying “We’ve ‘got one raghead in the White House, we don’t need a raghead in the governor’s mansion”  -  Referring to Arabs as “camel-dung shovelers”,   (Michelle Bachmann, Conrad Burns, Jake Knotts, Sonny Landman)

—  Suggesting unconstitutional and probably illegal actions against American Muslims and/or Arabs—“arrest every Muslim who comes across the state line” — adopt stricter immigration policies to keep more Muslims out of the U.S.— adopt a blanket ban on all Arab immigration — ”It’s not unheard that the religion of a nation at war with the United States be curtailed or disestablished”  — not allowing Muslims to hold public office — “Based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration.” — make advocacy of Sharia law a deportable offense - Suggesting that Islam should perhaps not be protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution  (Gen. Wm. Boykin, Saxby Chambliss, Virgil Goode, Jr., Sonny Landman, Meyers Mermel, Roy Moore, Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo, Lynn Torgerson)

—  ATTACKING THE RELIGION OF ISLAM - Saying that Islam is “not a religion”  -  “is the antithesis of the gospel of Christ”  - “is NOT a religion of peace”  -  “a religion intent on conquering the world”  -  “It’s an issue of patriotism.  The Islamic religion is so . . . part and parcel with the attack on America” — “religion that sanctioned 9/11” — ”“You could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion or is it a nationality, way of life or cult, whatever you want to call it” — “we’re fighting a radical religion in Islam” and “the war on terror is a theological war” — “We are in a war against a political, theocratic, authoritarian ideology and it is called Islam!” —  “Islam is a totalitarian theocratic political ideology. It is not a religion.” — Islam is a “very vile and very vicious enemy that we have allowed to come in this country because we ride around with bumper stickers that say ‘coexist.  (Gen. Wm. Boykin, Mike Huckabee, Frank Lassee, Lois McMahan, Meyers Mermel, Ron Ramsey, Bob Vander Plaats, Alan West)

—    ATTACKING THE QUR’AN - Calling the Qur’an - “a book of war and terrorism” that “must be rewritten” and the “passages seen as endorsing violence must be expunged” — a book containing “all kinds of crazy stuff. And unfortunately that’s motivating a lot of these extremists” — “like Mein Kampf”  (Robert Dornan, Jeff Greene, Roy Moore)

When this is allowed to pass without any real objections, the bar is lowered, and it then progresses to


ADVOCATING OR INCITING VIOLENCE

Councilwoman Deborah Pauly (R-Villa Park, CA)  said at a demonstration objecting to the speakers at a Muslim community charity fundraiser:  “What’s going on over there right now, make no bones about it, that is pure unadulterated evil ...  I know quite a few Marines who would be very happy to help these terrorists to an early meeting in Paradise.” 

Over there” was the community center which Muslim families (many with small children) were entering.  I can see no other meaning to Councilwoman Pauly’s statement except that she knows United States Marines who would be happy to kill these men, women, and children because since they are Muslims, they must be terrorists.

State Rep. Virgil Peck (R-Tyro KS) during a Kansas state House Appropriations Committee hearing on state spending for controlling feral swine by shooting them from helicopters said “It looks like to me if shooting these immigrating feral hogs works maybe we have found a [solution] to our illegal immigration problem.”

Peck’s statement was aimed at illegal immigrants generally, but relates to this issue of advocating violence very directly.

Congressmen Ed Royce (R-Calif.) who chairs the International Terrorism Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said regarding Deborah Pauly’s vicious performance at an anti-Muslim demonstration in California   “Kudos to Karen Lugo and Deborah Pauly and the other protest organizers.”

The sorts of statements made openly by elected representatives are a manifestation of a deep seated bigotry from sea to shining sea.  Helen Thomas was villified for a statement that may have been controversial, but doesn’t even come close to this sort of demonization.

Is anyone at all outside of the Arab and Muslim communities outraged?  Do they find any of these statements reprehensible?  Have we not seen that hateful rhetoric can lead to actual violence?  Should any of these folks apologize, or be forced to resign?  Of course not, because Arabs and Muslims simply don’t deserve the same respect as other human beings. 

According to POLLS - Gallup Poll found that 39% of Americans think Muslims should carry special ID cards - Poll online - should we deport all the Muslims? - Poll Reveals that the Internment of Muslims Would Win Support from Millions - In a 2004 survey by Cornell University, almost half of the national respondents favored curtailing the civil liberties of Muslims. An astonishing

40 percent of Republicans wanted American Muslims to register their whereabouts

(24 percent of Democrats).

A 2010 PEW Poll showed that 46% of GOP thinks that President Obama is Muslim.

A 2010 Harris Poll showed that ”... 57 percent of Republicans (32 percent overall) believe that Obama is a Muslim 45 percent of Republicans (25 percent overall) agree with the Birthers in their belief that Obama was “not born in the United States and so is not eligible to be president” 38 percent of Republicans (20 percent overall) say that Obama is “doing many of the things that Hitler did” Scariest of all, 24 percent of Republicans (14 percent overall) say that Obama “may be the Antichrist.” 

A 2011 Public Religion Research Institute poll showed that approval for Rep. Kings hearings was highest (71%) among Republicans and (76%) among those who most trust Fox News.

A 2011 PEW poll showed that - By roughly three-to-one (66% to 21%), conservative Republicans say Islam encourages violence more than other religions.  Fully 67% of those who agree with the Tea Party movement say Islam is more associated with violence than other religions.  And this viewpoint is very different among members of other groups.

A 2011 Gallup poll showed that Americans are suspicious of Muslims living among them. 

The GOP is getting through to their base with this consistent anti-Muslim rhetoric. 

As Salam al Marayati has pointed out

The anti-Muslim rage-aholics, however, feel that Islam cannot exist within America’s pluralism. Ironically, their view is shared by Al-Qaeda—making right-wing groups and former Republican speaker of the House Newt Gingrich closer to the Al-Qaeda narrative than the local Muslim communities they are fiercely protesting. The vitriol from these anti-Muslim groups plays right into the hands of Al-Qaeda, a group that works tirelessly to prove that America is at war with Islam.

Here’s the paradox I and many other Muslim Americans are living. We have to demonstrate our efforts against extremism by amplifying our mainstream majority voice, yet when we build institutions to help expand our capacity, we become targets of virulent and bigoted xenophobes who characterize any and all Muslims as extremists and radicals.

Secondly, when we meet with policy makers in the Obama administration and both federal and local national security teams at the White House and within law enforcement agencies, we are told that a counter-narrative to the “West is at war with Islam” is critical to winning against Al-Qaeda. So how can we defeat Al-Qaeda when these anti-Muslim groups within our own country have subscribed to this narrative of a war against Islam?
 
...  Such is the central challenge for Muslim Americans today; labeling Muslim American a suspect community goes hand in hand with excluding Muslim Americans from a place in the public square.

So we have a choice: do we succumb to intolerance and ignorance or do we embrace Muslim Americans as full and equal partners in our communities and our country? Muslim American successes count for America, not against her. Alienating them from mainstream America is propaganda feed for Al-Qaeda. And our collective national silence on open bigotry toward Muslim Americans and their institutions will be a stain in our history books—one which we cannot afford. Take your pick.

All of these folks really need to study the Constitution of the United States to remember that the Congress represents “we the people”, all of us, not just some particular segments of the population. 

If this is allowed to pass without any real objections, what will it progress to



I’m an American Muslim, so perhaps I’m biased, but I find it difficult to believe that it is acceptable for a U.S. government representative (which means that they represent the people of the U.S. including Muslims) to make a hate speech that labels random Muslims as terrorists and traitors; to support a demonstration that terrorises children taking part in charitable activities; to support the idea of “help[ing] these terrorists to an early meeting in Paradise”.  And, I find it just as reprehensible for a Congressman to support that hate speech.

As President Obama has discovered, you don’t have to be a Muslim to have your patriotism questioned, or to be maligned without evidence - you just need to be “tainted” with “Muslim blood”. 

Perhaps, concern with distancing himself from any “Muslim connection” is why Obama hasn’t spoken up about this demonization of Islam and Muslims on the part of elected representatives and government officials.

American Muslims are a part of “we the people”.  We are Americans.  We are not going anywhere.  And, I believe that it is well past time that other Americans begin standing up against this demonization of Islam and Muslims.  It would be nice to know that this sort of bigotry is not shared by most of our fellow Americans. 

I believe it is now time, and past time to speak up.  The bar really can’t be allowed to go any lower

.  I expect that the U.S. President, Congress, Senate, and State legislative bodies speak up and let their members know that they have a right to free speech (which American Muslims strongly defend) but that they condemn such speech for what it is,  bigotry.

At this point silence signifies agreement or support for these statements of anti-Muslim hate.

I would hope that all of those who have had a part in this process of normalizing and giving a stamp of approval to bigotry and hatred publically apologize before the climate of fear leads to actual violence, internment, or ...?


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