Why are we shooting ourselves in the foot?
With the Representative King hearings on the radicalization of Muslims in America, we further the notion that Republicans don’t want Muslims in our party. While visionary leaders like George W. Bush worked hard to incorporate Muslims, the current GOP political climate is very anti-Muslim. If we want to be re-elected and win more elections, we need to end this mindless rhetoric and demagoguery now.
What do Rush Limbaugh, Michael Reagan, Ann Coulter, Franklin Graham, Rep. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Cal Thomas, David Horowitz, General Hackworth, Rick Santorum, and Peter King and so many other conservatives have in common? They have all spoken out against Islam and Muslims.
In fact, their comments have been so inflammatory and malignant that one cannot simply brush it aside as mere ignorance about the faith. There seems to be a concerted anti-Islam campaign. Maybe our political strategists think we can win in 2012 if we tie Islam/terrorism to the Democrats. This is an awful strategy for many reasons. Not to mention, it’s morally bankrupt.
In the past few years, Cal Thomas has written that Islam is “an oppressive religion” and that Muslims “take their faith in a false god more seriously than we take our faith in the true one.” And in the Washington Times, Thomas mocks Muslim prayers offered at an event marking the fast of Ramadan held at the White House. Thomas wrote: “The [Muslim] ambassadors knelt and touched their foreheads to the floor of the East Reception Room. It’s unlikely they were praying Lee Greenwood’s lyrics for ‘God Bless the USA.'” He also criticized Congress for having a Muslim leader offer an opening prayer and suggested Muslim students should not be allowed to pray in schools. This is absolutely abhorrent and unacceptable in our party. Why do we let people like this represent us? This is the worst of humanity.
Paul Weyrich, president of the Free Congress Foundation, called for the recently-released “Eid Greetings” stamp to be recalled and “overprinted with the image of the twin towers,” because “America’s most notable experience with Islam was the attacks on Sept. 11.”
Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, is standing by remarks in which he claimed: “The God of Islam is not the same God. He’s not the son of God of the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It’s a different God, and I believe it is a very evil and wicked religion.” In the NBC report, Graham said, “I don’t believe this [Islam] is this wonderful, peaceful religion.”
The Middle East Forum’s author goes so far as to recommend “vigilant application of social and political pressure to ensure that Islam is not accorded special status of any kind in this country.”
Other conservative commentators have made similar claims or offensive statements since the September 11 terrorist attacks. Paul Craig Roberts wrote: “Of all the hyphenated-Americans, Muslims pose the greatest challenge.” (The Washington Times, 11/16/2001) Roberts also objected to “persons of Middle Eastern origin searching the personal effects of native-born blue-eyed blond mothers.” (The Washington Times, 11/8/2001) Oh, and I suppose blacks shouldn’t marry blue-eyed blondes either.
On October 26, National Review Online editor Jonah Goldberg wrote: “Much of Muslim world simply lives in a different time than the West. Oh sure, some of the big cities, with their cars and satellite dishes, may look modern. But their culture is horribly behind the times…”
New York Post columnist Rod Dreher wrote: “The nation cannot afford the naive illusions that have given many Americans comfort in peacetime. Chief among them is the notion, repeated ad nauseam by our leaders and the media, that Islam is a religion of peace. This may not be an outright lie, but it is so far from the full truth as to approach falsehood.” (National Review Online, 11/8/2001)
Worldnetdaily.com Washington Bureau Chief Paul Sperry suggested that the United States “air-lift pigs” into Afghan mosques. (9/27/2001)
Syndicated columnist Ann Coulter said America “should invade their [Muslim] countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. Coulter also called for the “mass deportation of Muslims. She also called for the deportation of 1 million Muslims.
Rush Limbaugh is on the air everyday talking about how Islam itself preaches violence and intolerance. Rep. Chambliss called for the immediate arrest of every Muslim coming across the border. Cal Thomas continues to suggest that Muslims need to be fought with vigor. General Hackworth asserts that this is a war against Islam. Limbaugh also says that the president of the United States merely says “Islam is a religion of peace” to appease Muslims and quell uprising. “He has to say that,” said Limbaugh. And of course, a well know conservative, the self-appointed terrorism expert, who was recently humiliated by Alec Baldwin and Bill Maher on Politically Incorrect, continues to say that the majority of Muslims in the US are planning to destroy America.
Is this strange? May be. May be not. The majority of them have “shows” or are only heard through “media appearances” or alternative news sites. If they don’t say something controversial, no one will listen, and no media outlets would invite them to speak. But there is no need to be so inflammatory. Shouldn’t integrity and truth be a higher priority than eliciting or provoking a response. Shouldn’t accuracy in reporting be a higher priority than “more hits.” After all, isn’t the GOP the party of a higher moral ground? Aren’t we supposed to be better?
Why all the hate? You’d think that conservatives and Muslims would get along. Both are conservative, treasure family values, morality, love thy neighbor, oppose abortion, oppose homosexuality, and agree on over 90% of each others philosophy. Shouldn’t they form a coalition? I guess not. Are these commentators ignorant? No. They are all well educated. What the heck is going on?
The end of the GOP. Yes, a recent article was published entitled “The End of the GOP.” The summary goes as follows. Democrats have the black vote, the Jewish vote, the Hispanic vote, the gay vote, the women vote, the pro-choice vote, the labor vote, the teacher’s vote, and the Catholic vote. What is left for the GOP? Not much else.
If the election of 2000 taught us anything, it taught us that the country is divided straight down the middle. Sure, the GOP may have lost the confidence of the aforementioned groups. But one group did vote for the GOP. They voted in numbers. They voted en masse. They are over 7 million strong. The majority of them, over 87% voted for then Governor of Texas George W. Bush. Many of them, about 35%, voted for the first time in the 2000 election. Almost all of them, 87-95% voted for Bush based on what their leadership recommended. Over 70,000 in Florida alone voted for Bush.
If this group had chosen not to vote for the GOP candidate, he would not be in the White House.
This group is the American Muslim community. The community is about 7-10 million strong and has agreed to vote as a bloc. The Muslim community elected Bush. Make no mistake about it. No other group or community can make this claim. The only reason that Gore is not president, is because Muslims overwhelmingly supported Bush.
To the Bush White House, this is not news. They all know it. They are catering to Muslim needs and meeting with them weekly. Did you get that? Meeting with Muslim groups on a weekly basis. No other White House did this. Obviously, they have a lot of research data. They know who put them in office. Imagine if a handful of Muslims in Florida voted for Gore or stayed home? We’d be facing a different country. It would only take about 250 Muslims to change their mind and vote for Gore. It’s easy. No other group can claim so much responsibility for President Bush’s victorious campaign.
When polled, based on the recently released Zoghby International results (12/19/2001), most Muslims in the United States described themselves as “Democrats.” Over 40% said they were democrats, 28% said they were independent, and only 23% said the were republicans. Yet, when asked about their voting record the majority voted for Bush. So how can we take advantage of a group of democrats that votes republican? As republicans, we have to answer this question and figure out how to replicate it. Over and over and over again.
So why then don’t the other conservatives understand this? Why are they launching such an Islamophobic campaign with rhetoric and hatemongering? What is wrong with them? Don’t they realize that if it wasn’t for Muslims, they would not have the luxury of blabbing and shooting off their mouths so proudly? Strange. Very.
It’s time for a GOP and Republican National Committee strategy session. Jack Oliver, Jim Gilmore, Marc Racicot sit up and pay attention. Things are getting ugly, and democrats are already gaining ground. Locally, in every city, democrats have cooed and catered to American Muslims; helping with funding, school projects, awareness, and all sorts of “small paybacks”. I know that. I see it. I am on many mailing lists and see the Democratic Party strategy.
Muslims are beginning to question Bush’s resolve to take care of them. Initially, Bush started out on a good note. Everyday he was on TV talking about Islam, “Islam is a religion of peace.” Later he began passing laws and signing executive orders; eliminating attorney client privilege, military tribunals, secret evidence, indefinite detention, rounding up 1400 Arabs and Muslims, profiling, security checks, and all sorts of wacky laws. Sure, some of these laws will help us deter terror and we need to tighten up security. But try explaining that to Muslims who are basically fearing for their lives and very intimidated. We can do a much better job.
Will Muslims support Bush in the future? It’s a tough question. Surely it will be debated. Who will the democratic nominee be? Will there be such a stark contrast between Bush and the democratic nominee? As stark as 2000? Or will Muslims just be happy to be rid of Bush? Who knows? It’s not inconceivable for Muslims to turn to the Democratic Party as an ABB vote (anything but Bush). In fact, many of these feelings and notions are already brimming in mosques and organizations all around.
One thing is for sure, Muslims are not party loyalists. They are the ultimate swing voters. Zogby has just proven that once again. The majority of Muslims polled who voted in the 2000 and 1996 election said they voted for Clinton in 1996 and Bush in 2000 based on recommendations of their leadership. So they are not loyal to one party over the other. The Bush administration knows this and Karl Rove took quick advantage of this in the 2000 election.
GOP strategists need to be meeting right now. Immediately! Faster than ASAP. We cannot wait and let things settle. We need to outreach to the Muslim community. We need to begin showing them the true side of the GOP and compassionate conservatism. That America is for all Americans, not the few loudmouths. We have to distance ourselves from the hate mongers and extremists loudmouths and talking heads that seem to want to eliminate Islam.
So, Ms. Coulter are you still calling for the deportation of 1 million Arab Americans? Whether she knows it or not, that suggestion is absurd and will only hurt our cause. Whether she realizes it or not, Bush and Gore both had 48 million votes. Elimination of 1 million Bush voters will effectively kill the GOP. This is not a very good strategy. Obviously, no one will deport 1 million Arabs, but the fact that she suggested this as a solution, shows the lack of understanding of the Arab/Muslim vote. Her comments also present, to most Muslims, a chilling view of what conservatives may be thinking. They don’t all have the political maturity to separate rhetoric from true policy recommendations. Result? The GOP can no longer exist, thrive, remain in power, or grow without the Arab/Muslim vote.
If we don’t act now, I am afraid that the GOP is doomed. No group or constituency in large numbers will support us. We have lost the gay, pro-choice, women, black, Jewish, labor, teacher, and Catholic vote. That does not mean that conservatism has ended. It may just mean an end to our political leverage. People would much rather have a liberal in office who does not infringe on their freedoms, than a conservative that wants to tell them what is right. But deep down inside, people are, for the most part, relatively conservative. However, we have lost the “Political War” as David Horowitz calls it. But we don’t have to.
The choices we make today and the words we use will forever change the future of our nation. Our conservative talk show hosts and analysts need to tone down the rhetoric and be more inviting. They need to stop relying on hearsay and look at factual evidence. Stop blaming Islam and Muslims for this calamity. The terrorism that occurred to quote Republican Governor Taft of Ohio, “was not Arab terrorism, was not Muslim terrorism, it was terrorism plain and simple.” Is he the lone voice? Or is he doing as Rush Limbaugh says, “appeasing Muslims?” Does he have to say that? It seems that Governor Taft is one of the few conservatives that understands reality.
As the GOP, we need to take a cursory look at Islam and Muslims, minus the rhetoric and claims made by a few ignoramuses on television. The Quran, is the most peaceful religious document of its kind. We need to evaluate its text. The Quran never says to fight anyone, of course, unless you are attacked. It is impossible to deduct otherwise, unless you have malicious intentions. I could go through every single verse in the Quran that talks about fighting and offer a bulletproof explanation, but I’ll spare you the time. No Muslim scholar anywhere authorizes or can interpret any part of the Quran to say the opposite. Of course, a few nut jobs and terrorists will, but they are in the minority. In fact, the Bible has more violent references and savagery than the Quran, but due to our lack of education, we do not know this. The point being, that any religious document can be quoted out of context and used to further a political agenda. We need to put an end to it.
Conservatives and Muslims have so much in common. We need to expand the relationships that we have with one another. As the Quran says, “tell the Christians, bring your women and children, and we will bring ours, so that we may discuss and agree on some kind and moderate words.” There is no need to condemn one another or foster hostility.
Unless we change our mantra, conservatism is doomed. Which means we will spiral down into the abyss of insignificance, as Europe has, due to its lack of morality and values. We can not allow this to happen.