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Anti-Muslim Bigotry

The Blowback of Fear-Mongering and Islamophobia — Haunting GOP??


In this excellent article, Juan Cole discusses how tapping into / promoting Islamophobia seems to be failing as a GOP’s general strategy of winning by fear-mongering.

As most Americans have already noticed, the GOP platform doesn’t seem to be about mortgages, jobs, health-care, the Iraqi imbroglio, or all the other important issues that the everyday American is worried about… no, no, those are not important. What GOP wants to shove down every American’s throat is a “radical Muslim” waiting to get ’em!

But, as Cole points out, this strategy is failing:

But Islamophobia as a campaign strategy has failed, and it may well come back to haunt the Republicans in the general election.

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I mean when you can EVEN have a candidate such as Tancredo, whose campaign platform extended from radical Muslims to extremist Muslims (and that about covers it), and who famously said:

“If it is up to me, we are going to explain that an attack on this homeland of that nature would be followed by an attack on the holy sites in Mecca and Medina,” Tancredo declared. “Because that’s the only thing I can think of that might deter somebody from doing what they otherwise might do.”

And then you had Rudy Giul-911-iani, who surrounded himself with all the neoconservatives he could find, and had nutty advisors to go along, but alas!

[T]he failure of Islamophobia as a campaign strategy is no better illustrated than by the spectacular flame-out of Rudy Giuliani. Throughout his campaign… the former New York mayor evoked the Sept. 11 attacks at an absurd rate. Giuliani and his advisors appeared to revel in demonizing Muslims.

In fact, Giuliani bemoaned that the Democrats weren’t Islamophobic enough, that they hadn’t used the endearing terms such as Islamic fascist, Islamic terrorist, and then adding, “You don’t insult anyone who is Islamic who isn’t a terrorist.”

To which, Cole resorts:

But people are not “Islamic,” they are Muslim. And one most certainly does insult Muslims by tying their religion to movements such as terrorism or fascism. Muslims perceive a double standard in this regard: Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols would never be called “Christian terrorists” even though they were in close contact with the Christian Identity Movement. No one would speak of Christofascism or Judeofascism as the Republican candidates speak of Islamofascism. Muslims point out that persons of Christian heritage invented fascism, not Muslims, and deny that Muslim movements have any link to the mass politics of the 1930s in Europe.

And then you had Huckabee, whose ignorance of world affairs, and Pakistan specifically led to some of the most amusing remarks you could find. They would be especially amusing if this guy wasn’t a serious candidate (which he has been):

[Huckabee] had a revealing response to the assassination of Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto. “I am making the observation that we have more Pakistani illegals coming across our border than all other nationalities except those immediately south of the border,” he said. In fact, there are almost no Pakistani illegal aliens to speak of in the United States. Only 13 percent of the estimated 12 million persons in the United States illegally are estimated to be Asian, but almost all of them are East Asian. Pakistani and Indian immigrants, moreover, are among the wealthiest immigrants in the country.

The front-runner, McCain is not less deranged in his stereotyping of Muslims, and fear-mongering with it:

Recently, McCain proclaimed, “I’m not interested in trading with al-Qaida. All they want to trade is burqas… ” The senator seemed to be relating the Muslim custom of veiling to terrorism.

Very funny McCain. And very sensible thing to say. Next time, when he is visiting a Muslim country if God forbid, he does become President, I am sure that will be a great statement to endear America to all the women who wear burqas and consequently their households. Why Mc-bomb-Iran-Cain had to tie an Islamic ensemble to terrorism is of course another strategy to stir Islamophobia among Americans, since many women in America do wear the burqa and that would bring this threat of terrorism closer to home.

On another occasion, asked whether a Muslim candidate for president would be acceptable, McCain replied, “I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles … personally, I prefer someone who I know who has a solid grounding in my faith. But that doesn’t mean that I’m sure that someone who is Muslim would not make a good president. I don’t say that we would rule out under any circumstances someone of a different faith. I just would — I just feel that that’s an important part of our qualifications to lead.”

Solid grounding in “your” faith… who set that criteria? And what of the faith of Jews? Or of Mormons? Or of Hindus? Or of any non-Christian? So you would prefer a religion test over experience, education, knowledge? And when did religion become a qualification? I mean that’s the strangest quote in a long time!

But according to Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

But that’s not suprising that McCain would be pulling for straws in his weak argument, in order to cover his biases and prejudice against Muslims:

In 2005, he said on “The Charlie Rose Show” that a Muslim had killed the Indian political and spiritual figure Mahatma Gandhi. In fact, the assassin belonged to a radical Hindu organization, the RSS.

We know that Romney’s chances of getting the nominate are more mathematical than practical, but let’s not forget his comments that he wouldn’t consider a Muslim in his cabinet because of their proportion in population!

Isn’t it amazing that other than Ron Paul, every GOP candidate has tried to use Islamophobia as a campaign technique? Isn’t that a shameful depiction of one of two major parties in America? Not a fringe party, but a bonafide American party.

So, why is this going to be a BAD technique for GOP?

For one thing, allowing the Christian conservative base to set an agenda that demonizes Muslims contains the danger of turning off more moderate segments of the GOP and American voters at large.

We already know that the Christian conservative won’t be voting in droves for McCain, so his campaign is bound to turn off the crowd of moderates that is his biggest constituency.

Moreover, Muslim-Americans and Arab-Americans are swing voters in key states such as Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Florida.

Yes, don’t remind us that helped King Bush win the election in 2000. But we learned from our mistakes, and Muslims overwhelmingly have voted Democratic precisely due to the Islamophobic campaigning. And if the status quo continues, one can imagine Muslims to become as safe of a constituency for Democrats as blacks and to some extent Jewish voters.


The candidates who played to fears of “Islamic fascism” the most — Tancredo, Huckabee and Giuliani — failed to light any fire under partisans in the party, and they have now faded from the scene. But the campaign has already left behind a bitter legacy of sloganeering against a single religious and ethnic community. The Republicans have repeatedly asserted that Islam has been perverted by radicals; their rhetoric effectively reduced American Muslims to second-class citizens and branded them as suspicious. Perhaps most worrisome of all: If any of the remaining candidates does win the presidency, he is going to have to cultivate close relations with Middle Eastern regimes to even begin resolving the mess in that region. And that president will have to do so saddled from the start with a legacy of denigrating Islam and Muslims.

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Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Abu Reem is one of the founders of MuslimMatters, Inc. His identity is shaped by his religion (Islam), place of birth (Pakistan), and nationality (American). By education, he is a ChemE, topped off with an MBA from Wharton. He has been involved with Texas Dawah, Clear Lake Islamic Center and MSA. His interests include politics, cricket, and media interactions. Career-wise, Abu Reem is in management in the oil & gas industry (but one who still appreciates the "green revolution").



  1. Amad

    February 7, 2008 at 12:06 PM

    It will be interesting to see how much more Islamophobia McCain uses in the general election. I have a feeling that this strategy isn’t all used up yet!

  2. Manas Shaikh

    February 7, 2008 at 1:22 PM

    I don’t fully understand the reason of all these campaigns. Maybe a social scientist will have a better clue.

    It is best if we have a clear idea what we have to do. I am reminded of a beautiful quote-

    Shaykh ibn Ahmed Darqawi said, “If you want to treat your enemy with what is duly deserving for him, preoccupy yourself with the love of the beloved, for if you preoccupy yourself with hate and enmity then the enemy get from you what he wanted and you have the lost opportunity to love the beloved.” From his Epistles, (13th Cent.)

  3. Abdul-Alim

    February 7, 2008 at 4:25 PM

    I am over a half hundred years old,(born and raise here) and the GOP has never been for the interest of the people of color in this country. As Malcolm X taught us that this wolf will always want to make you (non whites) his pry. (Listen to Ronney exit speech today) Today, we might can get a fair one with the fox (Obama, Hillary). The key would be to unite all Muslims — African Muslim, African American, Arab-American, Pakistani -American, etc. Bring our concerns to Senators Clinton and Obama with a united voice. Make a deal for our votes. Obama, has soften his tone about not being a Muslim. He said, in his Delaware campaign speech,”I am not a Muslim, but respected the religion of Islam.” Although, He went to say that he’s “been going to the same Christian church for 20 years to praise Jesus”. Our role model for minority interaction such come from the Sunnah, perhaps the Medina Period. Allah know best.

  4. Abdul-Alim

    February 7, 2008 at 4:57 PM

    I wanted to say that “Our role model for minority interaction should come from the Sunnah, perhaps the Mekkan Period. Allah knows best. Please, forgive my mistakes.

  5. Sabir

    February 7, 2008 at 7:49 PM

  6. Abdul-Alim

    February 7, 2008 at 10:35 PM

    You believe him? This from a man that would kill Muslims for 100 years. You could trust such a man?

  7. amad

    February 7, 2008 at 11:08 PM

    I am inclined to side with my brother from another mother– my first friend in Philadelphia, Br. Abdul-Alim, with regards to believing McCain.

    But let’s give at least this– that this man seems to have the little shame to hide his true sentiments (i.e. if we think he is lying). The rest of the GOP crooks aren’t even willing to hide their bigotries!

  8. Abdul-Alim

    February 7, 2008 at 11:12 PM

    Please, read Imam Luqmans “Racial Politics in Muslim America”.

    I share the same opinion of the Imam, that it is fard for Muslims to unite. We should have our own super delgates representing Muslims.

  9. Abdul-Alim

    February 7, 2008 at 11:18 PM

    Brother Amad, you make me wish that I was young again, so that we organize. It is always good to hear from you!

  10. Amad

    February 8, 2008 at 8:59 AM

    Br. Abdul-Alim… you are YOUNG at heart. That is what counts. Look at McCain… he is about a 100 years old and he still can throw a pretty good fit! Ok that was a bad example :)

  11. Abdul-Alim

    February 8, 2008 at 12:23 PM

    Br. Amad….thanks for saying that, but that would the only place I am young at (truly). It’s funny that you would say that about McCain, ….. it was said c-span that his foreign polices could be liken to Bush on steriods. (smile)

  12. Muhammed

    February 8, 2008 at 4:14 PM

    The best comment was from Pat Buchanan. Buchanan stated that “McCain will make Cheney look like Gandhi.”

  13. Abdul-Alim

    February 8, 2008 at 9:03 PM

    This might be something for the young folk may want to look into from the Muslim American Society

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