The GOP’s new McCarthyism against Muslims

Posted on August 17, 2010


7:23 am August 17, 2010, by Cynthia Tucker

What has happened to the leadership of the Republican Party? Are there no longer any statesmen/women in the GOP? Does the party have any leading figures who believe in the Bill of Rights?
The GOP’s leadership has been taken over by a group of shrill demagogues who cozy up to birthers, talk of rescinding the 14th amendment and want to deny peaceful American Muslims the right to practice their religion. In terms of decency and principle, this season may mark the lowest ebb for the Republican Party since the McCarthy era of the 1950s.

There is no divisive issue the party won’t exploit, no wedge it won’t use as it seeks votes and tries to separate the unum into pluribus. If you listen to Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), head of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee, gleefully talk about exploiting the emotions surrounding the so-called 9/11 mosque in New York, you can see how low the party’s leadership has sunk.
There is no good reason for a mosque in NYC to concern the vast majority of Americans — especially nine years after the Sept. 11 atrocities. But Cornyn can’t wait to continue the shameful harangues against Islam.

Newt Gingrich — who won’t be out-demagogued by Sarah Palin or anyone else — has gone so far as to compare the Cordoba Initiative to Nazis.

Rick Scott, trying to win the GOP primary for governor of Florida, has an ad attacking President Obama for supporting the Cordoba Initiative’s right to build a mosque two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center. What in the world does that issue have to do with being Florida’s governor? [more]

Geert Wilders Invades G.O.P America: Newt Gingrich Leading Shameless European-Style Islam-Bashing Crusade

Michelle Goldberg, Afro Articles

Recently, conservatives, including conservative politicians, have indulged in the sort of full-throated, shameless anti-Muslim prejudice more typical of the European far right.

Europe has long had a tradition of Islam-bashing conservatism, but the Ground Zero mosque flare up shows Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich now in lockstep with the continent’s worst.

On September 11, Geert Wilders, the ultranationalist Dutch politician who has suggested banning the Koran as hate speech, is speaking at Ground Zero, part of a rally against the Islamic community center being built nearby. He’ll be joined by Newt Gingrich, and in all likelihood other significant conservatives as well. Not long ago, the American right resisted the kind of overt Islamophobia that animates reactionary parties in Europe. The embrace of Wilders shows that this is no longer the case. A new type of religious bigotry has entered American politics, one more blatant than anything we’ve seen since the Twin Towers fell.

Even during the most terrifying days after September 11, or in the crazed and febrile period preceding the invasion of Iraq, the spokespeople for the American right mostly refrained from the outright demonization of Muslims. Some of the credit goes to George W. Bush, who, despite the odd slip of the tongue about America’s “crusade,” was usually careful to emphasize that American Muslims are not an internal enemy.

In 2002, for example, he criticized the anti-Islam comments of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, saying, “Some of the comments that have been uttered about Islam do not reflect the sentiments of my government or the sentiments of most Americans. Islam, as practiced by the vast majority of people, is a peaceful religion…[W]e’re not going to let the War on Terror or terrorists cause us to change our values.”

Most conservatives paid lip service to the same idea. After all, the neoconservative fantasy of democratizing Muslim countries, destructive as it was, was premised on the idea that their citizens share some of our underlying values and aspirations. Even Sarah Palin, speaking in Hong Kong last year, went out of her way to sound tolerant. “This war—and that is what it is, a war—is not, as some have said, a clash of civilizations,” she said. “We are not at war with Islam. This is a war within Islam, where a small minority of violent killers seeks to impose their view on the vast majority of Muslims who want the same things all of us want: economic opportunity, education, and the chance to build a better life for themselves and their families.”

But the hysteria over the Cordoba Initiative has marked a tipping point. Recently, conservatives, including conservative politicians, have indulged in the sort of full-throated, shameless anti-Muslim prejudice more typical of the European far right. And so suddenly, Wilders finds himself with an expanding American audience.

The leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, Wilders has built his career on his hatred of Islam. In the peroration of a 2008 speech to the Dutch parliament, he demanded, “Do what the country needs. Stop all immigration from Muslim countries, ban all building of new mosques, close all Islamic schools, ban burqas and the Koran. Expel all criminal Muslims from the country… Accept your responsibility! Stop Islamification!” This wasn’t just hyperbole; elsewhere, he cited the precise provisions under Dutch law that would allow the government to make the Koran illegal. He’s also called on the government to issue what he calls a “head-rag tax” of €1,000 ($1,325) on women who wear a hijab. His message has resonated with enough Dutch people to give his party 24 seats in this summer’s elections, making it the third-largest in parliament.