Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Islamophobia in USA: The Republican congressman who supported terrorism

Expand Messages
  • Zafar Khan
    The Republican congressman who supported terrorism http://www.salon.com/news/terrorism/?story=/politics/war_room/2010/12/17/peter_king_terrorism Rep. Peter
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 19, 2010
      The Republican congressman who supported terrorism


      Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., is set to assume the chairmanship of the House Homeland Security Committee in January, and today comes the news that he intends to launch an investigation of "radicalization" among American Muslims.

      In some perverse sense, King, who has represented part of Long Island in Congress since 1993, may be just the man for the job: He spent years openly supporting the terrorist Irish Republican Army.

      The journalist Alex Massie has ably documented King's history with the IRA, a group that he did not break with until 2005:

      In the 1980s, he was a prominent fundraiser for Noraid, the Irish-American organization that raised money for the IRA and was suspected of running guns to Ulster, too. Indeed, King's rise to prominence within the Irish-American movement was predicated upon his support for the IRA at a time when New Yorkers were softer on terrorism than they are now. Noraid helped win King his seat in Congress, making him, in some respects, the terrorists' Man in Washington. ...

      In 1982 he told a pro-IRA rally in Nassau County, New York, that "We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry." That same year, an IRA bomb killed eight people in London's Hyde Park. Two years later, the IRA almost succeeded in murdering the British prime minister.

      If "IRA" were replaced with "Hamas," the sort of fundraising King did would these days earn you a lengthy prison sentence for material support for terrorism.

      Alabama store owner posts sign saying 'BBQ PORK RESTURANT IS SAFEST NO MUSLIMS INSIDE'


      Army star: Islam poses threat to U.S.
      Former Delta Force leader speaks in Owego


      OWEGO -- Army Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin's first words to an audience of about 300 on Friday set the tone for the three-part lecture on current events and military history he will give this weekend at the Owego Treadway Inn.

      "Do we have any Muslims in here?" he asked. "Who's in here to cause trouble?"

      Boykin's talk on Friday was the first of his three-part discussion, "America and the Greatest Threat of our Time." His lecture will continue with the second and third installments today at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the Owego Treadway Inn.

      "I believe today we face as great a threat as we faced in 1776," Boykin said. "The situation in America is much far more serious than most Americans realize, and there's no longer any excuse for not knowing."

      That threat, he said, is Islam.

      "You need to remember one thing from tonight's presentation," Boykin told the audience. "Their objective is to replace our Constitution with Sharia Law."

      Boykin spent 36 years in the Army, retiring as a lieutenant general in 2007. He was the U.S. undersecretary of defense for intelligence during part of the George W. Bush administration.

      Boykin also was an original member of the Army's elite special operations unit, Delta Force. He either commanded or served on Delta Force missions in Iran, Grenada, Columbia and Somalia.

      He was the Army's mission commander during the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993, depicted in the movie "Black Hawk Down."

      He said his experiences on these missions have led him to believe that Islam poses a threat to America.

      "You need to understand that this is a war of ideology -- it's not a war of Islam versus Christianity," Boykin said. "This is a war of Islam against everybody that is not submitted to Allah. Now because most of the world is Christian, it falls out that most of the people who are under persecution, or the targets of Islam, are Christians."



      Holder Calls Terrorism Sting Operations ‘Essential’


      Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has defended the use of sting operations orchestrated by government informers, telling advocates for the civil rights of American Muslims on Friday night that the tactic is an “essential law enforcement tool in uncovering and preventing terror attacks.”

      On Saturday, Muslim community groups said they appreciated Mr. Holder’s effort at outreach, but emphasized their opposition to the tactic he defended. The method involves building cases against Muslims by using undercover agents who suggest violent and nonviolent ways to help the cause of Islam. In recent cases, the suspects are accused of choosing the violent.

      In a 20-minute speech delivered in this suburb of San Francisco at the annual dinner of Muslim Advocates, a national legal advocacy and civil rights organization, Mr. Holder rejected criticism by such groups that sting operations amount to improper entrapment.

      Muslim leaders were unmoved.

      “We maintain concerns about F.B.I. policies regarding informants in mosques and provocateurs in the community,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights and advocacy group based in Washington.

      ‘False' patriots whipping up anti-Muslim sentiment


      Leonard Pitts Jr.'s “Mourning the loss of America's mind” (Commentary, Dec. 3) is much appreciated for injecting a dose of common sense into the hysteria over Oklahoma's recent anti-Sharia referendum. Regardless of what the measure's backers might wish us to believe, the Constitution does, in fact, provide for the protection of religious freedoms and against the legislative singling out of any religious group for official censure by the government.

      Billboard removal sought by group
      Wednesday, December 8, 2010


      An online activist group has mounted a petition drive to take down the "Islam Rising" billboards placed in South Carolina by the Virginia-based Christian Action Network.

      The billboards went up in May in Orangeburg and Columbia to promote a documentary about the dangers of radical Islam. The action network chose South Carolina for the promotion because the state is home to Holy Islamville, a Muslim village in York founded by Sheikh Mubarik Ali Gilani.

      Adriel Luis, a Brooklyn-based writer for the change.org website, recently penned an article blasting the billboards after spotting one during a trip to South Carolina. The billboard in question features an image of a ninja-like terrorist with the words "ISLAM RISING ... BE WARNED."

      Mosque infiltration feeds Muslims' distrust of FBI
      By Jerry Markon
      Washington Post Staff Writer
      Sunday, December 5, 2010


      Before the sun rose, the informant donned a white Islamic robe. A tiny camera was sewn into a button, and a microphone was buried in a device attached to his keys.

      "This is Farouk al-Aziz, code name Oracle," he said into the keys as he sat in his parked car in this quiet community south of Los Angeles. "It's November 13th, 4:30 a.m. And we're hot."

      The undercover FBI informant - a convicted forger named Craig Monteilh - then drove off for 5 a.m. prayers at the Islamic Center of Irvine, where he says he spied on dozens of worshipers in a quest for potential terrorists.

      Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, the FBI has used informants successfully as one of many tactics to prevent another strike in the United States. Agency officials say they are careful not to violate civil liberties and do not target Muslims.

      But the FBI's approach has come under fire from some Muslims, criticism that surfaced again late last month after agents arrested an Oregon man they said tried to detonate a bomb at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. FBI technicians had supplied the device.

      In the Irvine case, Monteilh's mission as an informant backfired. Muslims were so alarmed by his talk of violent jihad that they obtained a restraining order against him.

      Parvez Ahmed: Victimized by belligerent group


      The Times-Union reports that an anti-Muslim group is demanding that Parvez Ahmed be removed from the Human Rights Commission, only seven months after he was appointed.

      This demand to the Jacksonville City Council is completely spurious, since a full investigation of Ahmed was carried out before his appointment.

      Furthermore, I would urge all City Council members to "consider the source" before giving any credibility to this demand.

      The ACT! for America group making this demand lumps together all Muslims as terrorists, and uses any means to spread fear and create maximum suspicion and hysteria against them.

      I witnessed these hateful tactics up close when our local chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State asked Ahmed to be our speaker at a public meeting in October.

      We asked him to share his own views regarding church-state relationships as understood in the Muslim world, and he gave a thoughtful lecture.

      The atmosphere was civil and his views were anything but radical. When the question and answer session began, however, a small group of ACT members in attendance began their pre-meditated and belligerent questioning.

      They shouted personal accusations against Ahmed, waved their books in the air, demanding the answers they wanted and deliberately created an ugly and intimating atmosphere.

      Is there an antidote for anti-Muslim rhetoric?
      12/1/2010 - Social Opinion - Article Ref: AM1011-4366
      Number of comments: 2
      By: Hesham Hassaballa
      Alt Muslim* -


      The summer of 2010 has seen tremendous anti-Muslim rhetoric, fervor, and disinformation. By twisting the truth about Islam and Muslims, a relatively small number of anti-Muslim ideologues have managed to take over the discourse and create a truly hostile environment for American Muslims. This is being borne out in the numerous mosque fights that have sprung up across the country, with the grandest example being the non-controversy that became the controversial "Ground Zero Mosque," or as comedian Jon Stewart likes to call it, the "Community Center of Death."

      The root cause of all this hostility is ignorance and misinformation. Americans are still woefully misinformed about Islam. According to a recent Pew Research Poll, 65% of Americans know either "some" or "not very much" about Islam. One in four Americans know "nothing at all." This void in knowledge is fertile ground into which Islamophobes can plant their seeds of misinformation. Yet, I cannot blame my fellow non-Muslim Americans for this lack of knowledge about Islam. Many Americans know very little about even their own faiths.

      The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released the US Religious Knowledge Survey detailing Americans' knowledge about religion. And it does not look pretty. According to the survey, more than four-in-ten Catholics in the United States (45%) do not know that their church teaches that the bread and wine used in Communion do not merely symbolize but actually become the body and blood of Christ. About half of Protestants (53%) cannot correctly identify Martin Luther as the person whose writings and actions inspired the Protestant Reformation, which made their religion a separate branch of Christianity. Roughly four-in-ten Jews (43%) do not recognize that Maimonides, one of the most venerated rabbis in history, was Jewish.

      This puts Americans' lack of knowledge about Islam in perspective. Nevertheless, ignorance is our real enemy in this struggle against the forces of hatred and division, and the more ignorance there is, the stronger the hand of those who seek to marginalize the American Muslim community. What can Muslims do about this? "Work harder," is the inevitable answer. "Work harder at educating the American public about Islam."

      Yet, even that is becoming more and more difficult to do. People are being told not to trust what Muslims say because they are all practicing "taqiyya." The recent declaration of Faisal Shahzad that when he took an oath of allegiance to the United States, he "did not mean it" does not help to dispel this falsehood. Moreover, there are moves to change American textbooks, which have been deemed by some to be too "pro-Muslim." So, what are we to do?

      More engagement, on both a personal and national level, needs to be undertaken. American Muslims all live somewhere, and that "somewhere" has neighbors. American Muslims need to know their neighbors on an intimate, personal level. Exchange gifts, go to block parties, coach softball teams, become Neighborhood Watch block captains - that is the best way to teach about Islam, by showing what "real live Islam" looks like. Yes, public service announcements highlighting the role of Muslim 9/11 first responders do help in a big way. Yes, more credible, honest Muslim spokespeople in the mainstream media help. But, local engagement is the key.

      In addition, Muslims must enter into the field of the arts in droves: writing books, producing television shows, and making films. Muslims have already made great strides: the wonderful work of Unity Productions Foundation, Azhar Usman, Wajahat Ali, and G. Willow Wilson are excellent examples. I am also trying to contribute to this effort with my forthcoming book, Noble Brother, which is the story of the Prophet Muhammad told entirely in poetry. Each one of us has a talent, and we should try to use that talent to contribute to the American Muslim story.

      Moreover, Muslims should start promoting themselves a little more on a local level. I was speaking to a Muslim producer of a local Chicago TV network news affiliate, and she told me that a great way to increase the number of positive stories about Muslims in the media is to self-promote. More of us should be the "local experts" on Islam and the American Muslim story and share this expertise with their local news media.

      Sikh Cab Driver Beaten by Passengers Shouting Racial Slurs


      A 56-year-old taxi driver was attacked early morning Nov. 29 in West Sacramento, Calif., by two passengers who allegedly shouted racial epithets and called the turban-and-bearded driver “Osama bin Laden.”

      The Council on American Islamic Relations and the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund have called on Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig to prosecute the case as a hate crime. Calls to Yolo County Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Raven had not been returned at press time.

      Fire damages mosque bomb suspect attended


      An early Sunday morning arson fire damaged the mosque that the Pioneer Square bomb suspect attended in Corvallis.

      The Corvallis Fire Department said the fire at the Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center was intentionally set. It was reported by a police officer on duty at 2:15 a.m. and quickly extinguished.

      The FBI is investigating the attack on the center, located at 610 NW Kings Boulevard in Corvallis. The agency is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible.

      "We have made it quite clear that the FBI will not tolerate any kind of retribution or attack on the Muslim community," said Arthur Balizan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon. "We are working very closely with the leadership at the mosque. We will find the person responsible for this attack and bring the full force fo the federal justice system to bear. In the meantime, the FBI remains absolutely committed to protecting each and every American's right to live, work and worship in a free and safe society."

      Islamic center leader Imaam Yosof Wanly confirms that Mohamed Osman Mohamud occasionally attended the mosque, but did not seem to be particularly devout in his beliefs.

      Mohamud, a Somali-American, was raised in Beaverton and had been attending Oregon State University. Wanly condemned Mohamud’s involvement in the plot to bomb the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Pioneer Square on Friday afternoon.

      According to the FBI, Mohamud came up with the plot but was working with undercover agency operatives to accomplish it. He parked a van with a fake bomb near the square and was arrested when he tried to detonate it with a cell phone as the event was beginning.

      Mohamud is charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and is scheduled to be arraigned Monday morning.

      Fox 12 contributed to this story.

      Robbery or Hate Crime? Sacramento Cabbie Severely Beaten


      ‘Death of an Imam’ documentary premieres tonight at UM-Dearborn


      A documentary made by two Michigan State University faculty and a doctoral student that examines the controversial shooting of a Detroit-area Muslim leader will premiere tonight in Dearborn.

      The film, “The Death of an Imam,” will be presented at 7 p.m. in 1600 Social Sciences Building on the campus of the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

      The film was made by Geri Alumit Zeldes, an MSU School of Journalism faculty member; Salah Hassan from MSU’s Department of English; and Brian J. Bowe, an MSU media and information studies doctoral student and visiting assistant professor at Grand Valley State University.

      The filmmakers will introduce the 17-minute documentary. After the screening, a panel featuring, among others, Dawud Walid from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and Niraj Warikoo, a Detroit Free Press reporter, both of whom appeared in the film, will provide updates on coverage and be available for questions.

      The film examines the news reporting associated with the Oct. 28, 2009, shooting of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, who was killed by FBI agents at a Dearborn warehouse.

      The film explores the issues at the core of the incident: The allegations of a terrorism conspiracy, the use of FBI informants and Muslims in the mainstream media.

      The documentary is part of MSU’s project titled “Islam, Muslims and Journalism Education.” More information is available at www.imaje.msu.edu.

      The premiere is being presented by these organizations at UM-Dearborn: Arab American Studies, African American Studies, American Studies and Ethics, and Communication Studies.

      The project was funded by the Social Science Research Council.

      Judge Blocks Oklahoma’s Ban on Using Shariah Law in Court


      An Oklahoma constitutional amendment aimed at stopping the use of Islamic law in its courts was dealt a serious blow on Monday when a federal judge temporarily blocked the state from putting it into effect.

      The amendment would forbid state judges from considering Islamic or international law in their decisions. Known as State Question 755, the measure passed with 70 percent of the vote during the Republican landslide on Nov. 2, and has generated bitter debate.

      Muslims claim the state is discriminating against their religion, while supporters — many of them Christian conservatives — say the amendment is needed to thwart what they maintain is an effort by radical Muslims to impose Shariah law in the United States.

      Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange of Federal District Court in Oklahoma City, however, said in her decision to grant a preliminary injunction on Monday that the measure did not appear to pass constitutional muster.

      It conveys a message, she said, that the state favors one religion or particular belief over others. The federal courts have long held that such a message violates the First Amendment’s clause prohibiting the establishment of a state religion, she said.

      “While defendants contend that the amendment is merely a choice-of-law provision that bans state courts from applying the law of other nations or cultures — regardless of what faith they may be based on, if any — the actual language of the amendment reasonably, and perhaps more reasonably, may be viewed as specifically singling out Shariah law, conveying a message of disapproval of plaintiff’s faith,” the judge wrote.

      The judge barred the State Election Commission from certifying the results of the election until she makes a final ruling. She set no timetable for her decision.

      Mosque 'arson' after US bomb sting
      Officials warn against retribution as mosque attended by man arrested over foiled Oregon attack is partly destroyed.


      A suspected arson attack has destroyed part of a mosque attended by a US-Somali man accused of plotting a car bomb attack on a Christmas ceremony in the US state of Oregon, investigators have said.

      One room in the Corvallis Mosque was gutted in the blaze on Sunday while neighbouring rooms suffered smoke damage, according to the town's fire department.

      Officials said there were no injuries in the blaze, which was extinguished within 10 minutes.

      Baiting a faith in Oklahoma


      Just to be on the safe side, voters in Oklahoma this month overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment that prevents the Talibanization of the Sooner State. Henceforth, there will be no public stonings in Ponca City, no forced burqa wearing in Bartlesville, no sharia law in Lawton.

      Even supporters of the referendum - which forbade state courts from considering sharia in their deliberations - admitted that the threat from Oklahoma's 30,000 Muslims couldn't be called "imminent."

      "It's not a problem and we want to keep it that way," explains state Sen. Anthony Sykes. Sharia law, according to state Rep. Rex Duncan, is a "cancer that must be removed with a preemptive strike."

      This is a novel use of American law - not to actually address a public problem but to taunt a religious minority. The Oklahoma amendment purports to "Save Our State" from disputed practices and beliefs within Islam. But the precedent reaches more broadly. Perhaps San Francisco could declare itself a "crusade-free zone," just in case some of those intolerant Catholics are reading Urban II. If they resist being singled out, they must be pro-crusade. Or maybe Congress should pass a constitutional amendment forbidding suttee - the historical practice of widow burning - just to put Hindus on notice. It's not a problem, but, hey, we want to keep it that way.

      What Oklahoma has done is faith-baiting - taking the least attractive elements or excesses of a religious tradition and symbolically legislating against them. A federal judge has predictably blocked implementation of the amendment, which raises a variety of practical questions about the enforcement of wills and the recognition of marriages performed in other countries.

      But the problem with the anti-sharia movement runs deeper. In its purest form, it is strangely consistent with Islamist beliefs and Islamist purposes. Anti-sharia activists argue that sharia law controls every area of a Muslim's life - that the only valid interpretation of sharia is the oppressive Taliban or Saudi model - and thus that Islam itself is incompatible with American democracy. Radical Islamists would nod in agreement to each of these claims. The accusation of the anti-sharia activists and the fondest hope of Osama bin Laden are identical: that every serious Muslim is a recruit for sedition.

      The bravery of a young Staten Island hate crime victim
      Published: Sunday, November 14, 2010, 9:00 AM


      STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — By the way the alleged parents talked about their little darlings in St. George Family Court on Friday morning, you would have thought they were charged with attending too much church.

      “He doesn’t go out after school ... he goes to church on Friday and Sunday,” one mom said of her 14-year-old allegation, who is charged along with his three buddies of bullying a 16-year-old special-ed eighth-grader like he was a runt of the litter.

      By bullying, court papers say they slammed the kid upside his head with a book and waited for the teacher’s back to turn so they could sucker-punch him, kick him in the groin, pull his shoulder-length hair back and spit in his face.

      Every day. Last year. At Markham Intermediate School.


      Because the kid is Muslim — a Muslim kid named Kristian, as if the unnecessary irony of it all should stop at Kristian’s parents being from Trinidad and admitting they aren’t all that religious in the first place.

      And when Kristian wasn’t getting smacked upside the head with a cafeteria tray or sucker-kneed in the crotch, he was getting humiliated in front of his classmates with juvenile insults that usually started with the b-word that rhymes with “rich.”

      “Gay!” they taunted, “(Bleeping) terrorist!” they screamed.

      “(Bleeping) Muslim! You come to this country to blow up houses and buildings and people are losing their job because of you!”

      It was all Kristian could do to take his lumps and keep his mouth shut. When he wasn’t at the doctor’s office being treated for injuries to his kidneys, Kristian prayed that his submissive silence would make the beatings go away.

      It didn’t.

      So Kristian went home and rocked himself back and forth in a chair, too traumatized to open up about the daily hell at school to a child psychologist or to the only people he could truly trust — mom and dad.

      The final straw came the first week of school in September when Kristian spotted two of his old Markham bullies sitting in one of his freshman classes at Port Richmond High School.

      Enough was enough. No more.

      Kristian went home, pulled his father aside, and told him everything.

      Now, a 15-year-old black suspect and three 14-year-old Hispanic cohorts — whose only protection here is a juvenile privacy law that says they are too young for their names to be printed under the category of alleged knuckleheads in a newspaper — are charged with menacing, attempted assault and aggravated harassment.

      As hate crimes, no less.

      Ganging up on a helpless special needs kid because his family is Muslim may not walk or quack like a typical hate crime, especially when one of these alleged gems is black and his three alleged beloveds are Hispanic.

      Don’t look now, alleged parents, but the apples of your eyes are cheesing in the same big picture with skinheads, the junior Klan and the rest of the Hitler youth.

      Too bad your alleged whiz kids cut history class. They missed the lesson that taught about a time when they could have been lynched, tarred, feathered and dragged through town by a pickup truck for just showing up with dark skin pigment.

      Did church teach them that it was OK to pick on a helpless special-ed kid whose skin is as dark as theirs? A kid who was told he was a “terrorist” who came to this country to “blow up buildings” before he was told to go back where he came from, which happens to be right here in the United States where he was born? The class punching bag that wouldn’t fight back?

      Here’s a school bulletin: When you and your alleged pack of thugs go out of your way to mug, torture and humiliate a helpless kid every day in front of the entire school, you’re the terrorists.

      If you spit in Kristian’s face over whoever his family prays to, you’re no different than the skinhead who prays to Hitler and would gladly separate your head from your neck with a ball bat simply because your skin is black and your buddies resemble the restaurant dishwasher who took the job away.

      In which case, I have two sincere words for Kristian: Thank you.

      Thank you for not strapping yourself with an arsenal and going Columbine on your old school after a few alleged bad apples ruined eighth grade for you.

      There are families of 12 dead students, a dead teacher and 21 still scarred with bullet wounds in Littleton, Colo., who forever wish that Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris opened up about the bullies who hassled them before they slaughtered Columbine High School into a one-word mantra for fed-up teens 11 years ago. Harris left his only words in a chilling suicide note.

      “Your children who have ridiculed me, who have chose not to accept me, who have treated me like I am not worth their time, are dead.”

      Life goes on for Kristian and everybody involved because he went to his dad.

      Now, Kristian is in a different school, hopefully one that will let him study in peace rather than defend himself from bullies brought up by people who sound like they spend more time riding in cars decorated with bumper stickers that brag, “My kid beat up your kid at Markham Intermediate School,” than any church.

      Bullies, by the way, who are now up on criminal charges that may as well fit them for white hoods and robes.

      That’s some church.

      KS rep. equates Muslims, killers
      Kansas lawmaker says he didn't mean to offend anyone


      The Kansas Democratic Party requested Thursday that a Kansas House Republican retract his statements suggesting that Muslims can't be considered good Americans.

      Rep. Joe Seiwert, a Pretty Prairie Republican re-elected this month to another two-year term, sent an e-mail recently to about 40 people indicating Muslims couldn't be considered U.S. patriots because they owed their allegiance to Islam.

      He also said during an interview with The Hutchinson News that he stood by his belief regarding the loyalty of Muslims.

      When asked about the Muslims living in Reno County, Seiwert said: "Sure, there's murderers. There's tax evasion people. There's all kinds of people" living in his district.

      Kenny Johnston, executive director of the state's Democratic Party, said Seiwert owes the public an apology to Muslims living in Kansas.

      "Representative Seiwert is supposed to be a role model in his community and a representative of our state's government," Johnston said. "For him to compare honest, hard-working Americans in his own district to murderers and tax cheats is not only ignorant, but disgusting and offensive."

      Seiwert said he frequently gets questions from constituents about Islam's influence in American society and saw the e-mail as "a story of interest" to pass on to a group of friends.

      "If I offended anybody, I did not do it intentionally," he told The Associated Press on Thursday. "This whole thing is just basically blown up out of context."

      Asked whether he thinks Muslims can be good Americans, Seiwert said, "I think most of them try to be."

      2012: Exploiting Islamophobia to Win Big
      by Kelley B. Vlahos, November 09, 2010


      Why did Renee Ellmers, a Republican candidate for Congress from North Carolina, produce a campaign ad skewering her opponent for not vociferously opposing the Park 51 Islamic center planned for Manhattan near Ground Zero, over 500 miles away?

      Because it was good campaign strategy, that’s why. She presumed that the Newt Gingrich-hyper-generated history of the Muslims conquering the city of Cordoba 13 centuries ago, complete with illustrations and the juxtaposition of Ground Zero, would pay off, particularly among the disgruntled southern conservatives in her district, which covers the central and eastern parts of the state. And she was right – this blatant exploitation of their fears certainly didn’t hurt and might very well have helped her beat seven-term incumbent Democrat Rep. Bob Etheridge in one of the many GOP upsets of the midterm elections.

      In fact, anti-Muslim rage in today’s national discourse is populism’s low-hanging fruit, and many Republicans hungrily grabbed at it with both fists and were duly rewarded this campaign season. Sure, not every one of the Sarah Palin/Tea Party-endorsed candidates won on Nov. 2, but those who did, won in part because of their willingness to indulge in the Islamophobia coursing through the Republican base today, not despite it. The same Republican base that helped the party torpedo the Democrats last Tuesday, taking back the House, six senate seats, six governorships, and 680 slots in state legislatures (the most in the modern era, according to the National Journal).

      “I think this election will weigh heavily on us for the next couple of years,” lamented James Zogby, director of the Arab American Institute, talking before an audience assembled at The Palestine Center in Washington, D.C on Thursday. Parsing out the election results in the frame of the current backlash, he said Islamophobia has “exploded” on the Arab-American community in the U.S., “to the extent I don’t think I have ever seen before.”

      In Florida, for example, Republican ex-Army officer and two-time congressional candidate, Allen West, has been fond of giving speeches that highlight his perceived historical knowledge of Islam as a religion of murder and hate. Pontificating on the Quran at the Hudson Institute this year, West exclaimed, “this is not a perversion, (Terrorists) are doing exactly what this book says.”

      In February, West took it up a notch, speaking before the Freedom Defense Initiative, a jihad-hunting fundraising machine headed by Pamela Geller (Atlas Shrugs) and Robert Spencer (Jihad Watch):

      “There is no such thing as ‘war on terror,’” he told his audience, “a nation does not go to war against a tactic. A nation goes to war against an ideology… we are against something that is a totalitarian, theocratic, political ideology and it is called Islam.”

      Geller did her best to promote West’s candidacy – “Run West Run!” – and Ellmers was also on Geller’s list of “endorsed” candidates. In ordinary political times, respectable Republican candidates would have steered clear away from Geller and Spencer and other such toxic avengers.

      Not West, not now. On Tuesday, the Tea Party-backed West beat Democratic incumbent Rep. Ron Klein with 55 percent of the vote.

      Meanwhile, just days before the election, right wing blogs started touting what they said was proof that Democratic Rep. Joseph Sestak, running in a tight race for Senate with Republican Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, had attended a 2006 campaign fundraiser hosted for him by the director of CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), an “unindicted terrorist co-conspirator” that is supposedly a front for Hamas, but apparently not so effective to have been charged as such by the U.S. government. Nevertheless, the accusations have been dogging Sestak, a retired Vice Admiral in the U.S. Navy, and in July, blogs like Atlas Shrugs began pushing the issue and circulating this ad by the “Emergency Committee for Israel,” a right wing marriage of Washington neoconservatives and evangelical Christians with a lot of money to burn. It launched with the Sestak attack, and was key in making Park 51 a national issue a few weeks later.

      Allen West’s Hiring Of Hate Radio Host As Chief Of Staff Is ‘Potentially Problematic,’ House Official Warns


      Republican Allen West was just elected to the House of Representatives in Florida’s 22nd district, defeating two-term Democratic Rep. Ron Klein. His first move since being elected is rather strange: he has hired a conservative talk radio host, Joyce Kaufman, to be his congressional chief of staff. “Her 20 years of experience on the political scene in South Florida (always as a radio host) will give me helpful insights and perspective,” West said. “As chief of staff, she’ll be my right-hand person.”

      WFTL said in a statement that Kaufman will continue to work for the station but not as a host: she has been “retained as our Washington correspondent, with details on her new exciting schedule to be announced soon.”

      Carol Dixon, counsel for the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, told ThinkProgress that she had not heard of Kaufman’s situation in particular, but said that generally this setup could be “potentially problematic.” “There may be potential confidentiality issues — some of the issues she’s reporting on may be gained by virtue of her House status. At a staff level it seems problematic,” Dixon said. The committee’s rules also say Kaufman must earn a fair market salary from WFTL, and refrain from using any office equipment for her radio duties.

      As a Tea Party mini-star, West raised more money than any non-incumbent in a House race, making it the second-most expensive House contest in the country. He received major backing from the Republican Party and its major players — he was named a “Young Gun” by the National Republican Congressional Committee, was endorsed by Sarah Palin, and got a campaign visit from Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), the presumptive Speaker of the House.

      West retired from the Army after facing a court martial for abusing an Iraqi man, and ran an unusual, bombastic and often offensive congressional campaign, frequently targeting Islam. “Islam is a totalitarian theocratic political ideology, it is not a religion. It has not been a religion since 622 AD,” West told an audience in March. A month earlier, he told supporters that jihad “is not a perversion” of the Quran — “they’re doing exactly what this book says.” West has also slammed “chicken” leaders who read “memos from the feminists,” and defended his outsized rhetoric thusly: “That’s how people talk. … And you can print that: That’s how men talk.”

      One of the places West liked to talk was Kaufman’s radio show on WFTL in Florida, making over 100 appearances over the past four years. Like her new boss, Kaufman is also no stranger to offensive statements:

      – She said Jewish people voted for President Obama because “they don’t embrace being Jews anymore.”

      – She said Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan “looks basically like Ed Schultz in drag.”

      – Discussing illegal immigrants on her show, she said: “If you commit a crime while you’re here, we should hang you and send your body back to where you came from, and your family should pay for it.”

      – At a rally with West standing by, she said: “Calling illegal immigrants ‘undocumented workers’ is like calling a drug dealer a pharmacist without a license.” “There are people who want to change your way of life, and some of them may be your gardeners,” she said.

      – She also blamed undocumented immigrants for pollution and disease: “We are destroying the environment in this country at an incredibly accelerated pace because of this group of people who have come to this country and have to live a very substandard existence. They don’t have mufflers on their cars. I mean, it sounds like silly nonsense, but it’s not. The cumulative effect is huge. They live, you know, 10 to a household; they bring disease with them.“

      Kaufman must first clear the ethical hurdles, but if she does, perhaps it’s not so strange that West hired her.
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.