Islamophobia and Republican Restless Lip Syndrome

| Monday, August 23rd, 2010 | 28 Comments »

Here’s a tip:  If even Pat Buchanan (yes, the same crazy geezer who called Hitler “an individual of great courage” and said America was built by white folks) thinks you “went too far” with your comments on any given subject, chances are you did.  The comments that sparked the disapproving words? Last week, Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich called the backers of the Cordoba House “Ground Zero Mosque”, “radical Islamists” and helpfully offered: “Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the holocaust museum in Washington.”

Despite Pat Buchanan’s rebuke, Gingrich hasn’t completely won the prize for “Most Ridiculous Republican” in the Ground Zero Mosque debate. Sarah Palin has done her level best in pontificating on the question of whether the moderate Iman, Feisal Abdul Rauf, should be allowed to proceed with plans to build the community center (which includes meeting rooms, a pool, a fitness center, a basketball court, a restaurant and culinary school, a library, a 500-seat auditorium, a mosque and a Sept. 11 memorial.)  Wordsmith that she is, Palin fired off a flock of tweets on July 16th, starting with a call, directed specifically at the “peaceful Muslims” to “refudiate” the Ground Zero Mosque efforts.  Her use of the (admittedly helpful) non-existent word must have touched a raw nerve with someone on Team Palin who still had not gotten over her demand that the Obamas “refudiate” the NAACP for claims that the Tea Party is racist.  The tweet was deleted and this time, the “Peaceful New Yorkers” of the twitosphere were awkwardly exhorted to “refute” the construction project.  As if this wasn’t enough punishment, we were all then treated to this tweet: “Refudiate,” “misunderestimate,” “wee-wee’d up.” English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!”  The tipping point had been reached and the flood of tweets that ensued sent #ShakesPalin to Twitter’s trending topics and created a brand new Twitter account, @ShakesPalin.

And the Republican bluster didn’t stop there.  Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty who has a significant Muslim population in his state, would not back down from this claim that the building of the Ground Zero Mosque would “degrade and disrespect” Ground Zero. Mitt Romney chimed in via a spokesperson about “the wishes of the families of the deceased and the potential for extremists to use the mosque for global recruiting and propaganda” in opposing it.  Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee threw in his two cents with this question:  ”Is it just that we can offend Americans and Christians, but not foreigners and Muslims?”

I never thought I would miss Bush but, to his credit, he always stressed that Islam was a religion of peace.  In fact, following Obama’s defending the rights of the backers of the disputed construction to the right to “build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances,” former Bush aides were some of the only visible Republicans to support him in the midst of huge conservative criticism.  To replace Bush-era Republican courting of Muslims, we now have conservative leaders like Gingrich who also said: “There should be no mosque near ground zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.”

If the current Republican leadership wants to abandon the party’s formerly peaceful stance and continue stoking anti-Islamic sentiment among their ranks, perhaps they could turn against their own sensitivities and take a lesson from a Frenchman. Far right politician Jean-Marie Le Penn has peddled his on-crack Islamophobia in France for years. Gingrich could arrange for an American version of Le Penn’s propaganda on handy posters like this one (created by Le Penn’s National Front party) that features a fully-veiled woman standing next to a map of France with the pattern of the Algerian flag on it and the words: “Non à “l’Islamisme” (No to Islamism).  The posters have drawn furious debate in France and the Algerian government has voiced its displeasure.
But then, the lippy contingent in American conservativism has never needed the French to draw international haters.  ”We are handing al Qaeda a propaganda coup, an absolute propaganda coup,” with the Islamic-center controversy, said Evan Kohlmann, an independent terrorism consultant at Flashpoint Partners who monitors jihadist websites. (The Wall Street Journal).  The article claims that Islamic radicals are justifying their violent threats by citing the American anti-Muslim rhetoric over the Cordoba Project and, other anti-Islamic rhetoric that has been building stateside.  A prime example is Pastor Terry Jones of Dove World Outreach Center (a mega-church in Gainesville, Fla.) who is planning a Sept. 11 “International Burn a Koran Day” where he plans to defy even his local fire department (who refused to issue him a permit for his event) in the act of intolerant stupidity that has elicited comments like this one on radical Islamic sites:

“Now, I wish to bomb myself in this church as revenge for the sake of Allah’s talk. And here I register my name here that I want to be an intended-martyr.”

Stay tuned for more of these friendly messages as American conservative leaders continue the downward spiral of anti-Islamic rhetoric stateside.

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Bjorn Karlman

28 Comments

  1. David says:

    The polls I have seen range from 55% to 70% of Americans opposing the building of a mosque on the site. Only 40% of the country is conservative (I think 35% or so are Republicans) and you have to figure that some conservatives/Republicans support the mosque being built. So that leaves a large number of people who oppose the site that are not Republican/conservative.

    Also, America was built by white people. lol…who do you think it was built by, Chinese people?

    Who built China? Asians? Or is that politically incorrect to say? Maybe we should say it was built by black people so we can feel better about ourselves. lol.

    Back to the mosque thing. I would be a lot more worried if this sort of thing didn’t happen all the time. People shit their pants when you try to block a mosque from being built. What do people do when you stop someone from building a Wal-Mart or a Mormon temple? We are told it is just regular zoning procedure and that the community has a right to have a say. I call bull shit. I really don’t care about this issue. At first I was on the side of the mosque, but the hyperbole coming from that side has gotten so predictably absurd that I have changed my mind to not caring.

  2. Johnny says:

    It’s often said, about blogs, newspapers and other websites, that comments detract from posts. David seems to be doing his best to prove that axiom.

  3. Bjorn, great thought provoking article. As a Christian who believes in the validity of the Bible, it is believed by myself among others ( or so I think) that the dark ages were a time where hundreds of millions of people were killed by the Catholic Church for not adhering to the state religion.

    I also believe that when church and state unite, we have persecution. What we are witnessing is the uniting of church(crazy right wing evangelicals i.e. huckabee, gingrich etc. ) seeking the government to help enforce her beliefs. This according to my Bible and even a lady named Ellen White who wrote some very thought provoking statements on this very issue call this THE IMAGE OF THE BEAST.

    We are seeing our freedoms eroded and sadly my worst enemies are fellow so called Christians. The Religion of God as demonstrated in the life of Christ was not one of Force but of Love.

    Wanna hear something really interesting? The Quran teaches that there will be a “people of the book” come about in the end of time that will teach the true faith from long ago. They are told to look for this group. I think I know who this group is as I will tell you that you do as well.

    And to really throw a wrench in this thing for Christians, The Bible says in Isaiah 60 that a number of different people groups/tribes will come back to the true faith of Allah or God. Guess what religion these people groups are in today?–Islam. That’s right, the Bible says that many professing the name of Islam will join with true worshippers of God/Allah in the end of time.

    You think we have see controversy now…wait for it. It is coming
    blessings to you brother,
    Jared

  4. Kelley says:

    Indeed, the perspectives of non-Muslim Christian conservatives on this subject are likely tinged by a terrible bias. Thankfully, we can examine the perspective of truly moderate Muslims (unlike the upheld-as-”moderate” Rauf who said such moderate things as America was to blame for 9/11).

    Here is what Raheel Raza, a Muslim woman and a board member of the Muslim Canadian Conference, had to say about the building of the mosque (after which, of course, she received threatening phone calls from Sharif El Gamal, the “moderate” developer of the mosque):

    “As a Muslim I’M NOT BUYING THAT [the community center-mosque wanted by the Muslims involved is to show respect] AT ALL. How does building a mosque in the very place where Muslims murdered so many other Americans create any kind of respect? . . .

    “Building a mosque or a place of worship in the particular spot across the street from Ground Zero is A SLAP IN THE FACE OF ALL AMERICANS. I mean New Yorkers have experienced this pain and the people who are behind this project are themselves Americans and New Yorkers. I can’t BEGIN TO IMAGINE how they would even CONCEIVE an idea that building a mosque there, which is a exclusive place of prayer for Muslims would in any way show tolerance or respect.

    “Mayor Bloomberg and other bleeding heart white liberals like him don’t understand the battle that WE MODERATE MUSLIMS are faced with in terms of confronting RADICAL Islam, and Islamization, and politial Islam in North America, which is only growing since 9/11, because of POLITICAL CORRECTNESS, and people because of their political vested agenda not speaking out on issues like this.” (Excerpted from her comments on The O’Reilly Factor, 9 Aug 2010)

    So, perhaps you don’t like Republicans calling things as they are. That’s fine. If you don’t like it from the mouth of Republicans, take it from the mouth of a MUSLIM who knows both the culture and the religion (including its radical wing). Of course, you won’t hear *actual* moderate Muslims speaking in mainstream media outlets. Their political wings have far too much of a vested interest in exploiting an opportunity to brand Republicans (and other conservatives) as anti-Islamic.

    Thimk, people.

  5. Harold says:

    I really dig these articles that totally push buttons! I just had to comment, and don’t take this as pro-nazi, but from the perspective of someone who has studied constitutional law, I would love to ask Newt where the law is that says any group couldn’t buy advertising or just post a sign near the Holocuast Museum. Am I way off here? I have to add that the whole US of A is just going nowhere with these idiotic arguments about “ground zero” anyway, I have yet to be convinced that 9/11 wasn’t an inside job anyhow! Whew I got it off my chest!

  6. Tristan says:

    This issue affects us all. In some way or another, we are all a part of a minority. Anytime when a majority can override the rights of a minority, society takes a dangerous step towards tyranny. Imagine if fanatical (insert your religion here) did something terrible. Why should you be marginalized for what they did? It isn’t right. Duh!
    Anyway, deep down, I think that every politician knows that fighting against the “mosque” is not a battle they can legally win. Losing, however, allows them to play the victim, drum up more support among their tea-baggers and allow them to wave the bloody flag of 9-11 before the mid-term elections. It is a shameless grab for votes using time-tested nationalistic prejudicial strategies which have been used in our country for 100s of years. The song may be different, but the dance is the same.

  7. Brad says:

    Paleoconservative Ron Paul (R) is quite vocal in his support of the 1st Amendment, property rights AND permitting the building of a mosque near ground zero. His statement on the issue is one of the most lucid and frank ones I’ve read. (link at conclusion)

    (excerpts)

    **The fact that so much attention has been given the mosque debate, raises the question of just why and driven by whom?

    In my opinion it has come from the neo-conservatives who demand continual war in the Middle East and Central Asia and are compelled to constantly justify it.

    They never miss a chance to use hatred toward Muslims to rally support for the ill conceived preventative wars…

    …There is no doubt that a small portion of radical, angry Islamists do want to kill us but the question remains, what exactly motivates this hatred?

    If Islam is further discredited by making the building of the mosque the issue, then the false justification for our wars in the Middle East will continue to be acceptable.

    …Many fellow conservatives say they understand the property rights and 1st Amendment issues and don’t want a legal ban on building the mosque. They just want everybody to be “sensitive” and force, through public pressure, cancellation of the mosque construction.

    …This is all about hate and Islamaphobia.

    We now have an epidemic of “sunshine patriots” on both the right and the left who are all for freedom, as long as there’s no controversy and nobody is offended.**

    (unabridged statement)

    http://www.newsmax.com/InsideCover/ronpaulgroundzero/2010/08/23/id/368179?s=al&promo_code=A951-1

  8. Bjorn says:

    Last I heard, Walmarts and Mormon temples do not house the single most misunderstood group of the last decade. Bad comparison. The construction itself is not so much the point. What is most worrying is the lowering of Republican standards. Demonizing Muslims is hardly a way to create peace and security.

  9. Bjorn says:

    Response David?

  10. Bjorn says:

    Jared, I too am a big fan of the separation of church and state. Interesting apocalyptic/ecumenical commentary… there is certainly more uniting world faiths than dividing them.

  11. Bjorn says:

    Thanks for the Raza quote Kelley. The more Ground Zero stories you read, the more it is clear how wide the range of Muslim responses is. The constant assault on political correctness from FOX is always entertaining… would they rather we go back to the 50s? And again, the construction of the facility is not so much the point… what is horrible is the growing tendency of Republican leaders to stoke anti-Islamic fire… it is pretty drastic and very different from the tone of the party under Bush

  12. David says:

    Everyone has to follow the same laws regarding zoning. A mosque should not get special protection. Equal protection under the law is in the constitution. Your feelings are not. This is in no way a distraction from the issue. It is the issue. Why should a mosque not follow the same rules as everyone else? You people don’t care about rights unless it is about the rights of people you care about. That is another way to say you don’t care about rights at all. I am against all this zoning bs and taking the communities feelings into account when deciding these issues.

    I said I was for the mosque, I am just against idiotic arguments which are coming from the other side. As always. The hate card is old. It is dumb. The only thing I hate are stupid ideas and stupid arguments. That is why I hate the left. Not because they are gay, minority, and female, but because they appeal to emotion and stupidity more than I could possibly imagine.

  13. Bjorn says:

    Thanks Harold! Here’s a good article on the technicalities of putting up a sign next to the Holocaust museum…
    http://www.slate.com/id/2264400/

  14. Bjorn says:

    Appealing to the worst of your base is something that conservative leaders are almost forced to do. Radicalizing forces like the Tea Party are encouraging more and more extreme rhetoric so to have any kind of solid conservative following, it looks like you have to switch your brain off in the run up to November

  15. Martin says:

    What strikes me in all of this as an outsider in the UK who has not been following the story closely is the quality, or rather lack thereof, of the dialogue. In a discussion between the left and right about what is ‘respectiful’ to victims of 9/11 it seems ironic at best that there seems to be little respect or attempts to understand the others’ position.

    Ok….that’s no fun I hear you shout…it doesn’t make for entertaining opinion columns,articles, blog posts. It may not but I sometimes wonder whether the debate is really about who can be the most opinionated and inflate their ego most rather than to develop a solution to a situation which has clearly hit a nerve in the country.

  16. Bjorn says:

    Excellent quote Brad. As much as I differ with Ron Paul on a number of issues, I really find his critique of the Military Industrial Complex interesting, he has framed the larger conflict into which the Cordoba Project factors, very well…

  17. Wanee says:

    After almost a decade, the place still reminds people of the terrors that happened on that fateful day. People of various backgrounds were there, and their families naturally feel the pain of parting with their loved ones in such a horrible circumstance.

    Because there are many people with various religious backgrounds, there should not be any religious building there. May be a garden, with fountains, in natural settings might help people to be at peace while remembering their loved ones there. It’s no use and wrong to batch Islam, since hatred is certainly not the teaching of Christ.

  18. Bjorn says:

    Excellent point Martin… the American political climate is growing more polarized by the day. While I certainly enjoy the back-and-forth, I do share your desire for quality discussion…

    The challenge seems to be in retaining an audience while promoting quality discussion. Neutrality does not seem to pay any more – check out this article about how CNN and particularly Larry King is taking a beating from more partisan news outlets… no wonder he is retiring:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/27/business/media/27cnn.html

    Part of the point with CultureMutt is to promote discussion while not shying away from personal bias… being sportsmanlike and (hopefully) fair while refusing to water down opinion..

  19. Bjorn says:

    I think some concrete examples of these arguments that appeal to emotion and stupidity would be helpful at this point.. what exactly are you talking about? I really want to know…. Martin (below) has just reminded me of the need to listen to the “other” side…

  20. Bjorn says:

    Thanks for the input Wanee… I am not quite sure I understand your logic though… you are saying that because those that died, and their families, come from different backgrounds we should not have a religious building built? Should we get the surrounding Churches to leave too?

  21. Monica says:

    Hate is emotion.

    Hertzberg weighs in in The New Yorker:

    . . . appealed to hurt feelings—“especially the anguish of the families and friends of those who were killed on September 11, 2001,” . . . “Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would characterize as irrational or bigoted.” No doubt. But, as a guide to public policy, anguish is hardly better than bigotry. Nor is it an entitlement to abandon rationality itself.

    http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2010/08/16/100816taco_talk_hertzberg#ixzz0xaSU22VV

  22. Monica says:

    One embraces inventive language from those worthy of wielding the weapon. Lewis Carroll’s semantic shenanigans employed “portmanteau” words such as “chortle,” “mimsy” and “slithy.”

    In Through the looking Glass, Alice and Humpty Dumpty have the following conversation:

    ‘When I use a word… it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.’
    ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you CAN make words mean so many different things.’
    ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master—that’s all.’

    Alice is exasperated because she is having an “unsatisfactory” conversation with a hollow egg masquerading as a sentient being. Palin’s “refudiate” may end up in Webster’s one day, through ineptitude rather than mastery. Her disdain for matters of the mind is despicnant, or should I say repugnable?

  23. Bjorn says:

    I liked the article Monica…. I am quite frankly surprised that the bulk of anti-Islamic rhetoric is only now starting to emerge in national politics.. surely the potential for distorted thinking was greatest when the wounds were most fresh… the difference seems to be that politicians did not encourage harmful rhetoric the way they now do…

  24. Bjorn says:

    I don’t know whether to be grateful or horrified at Palin’s opting to wield her weapon… some fun definitions for “Refudiate” from Urban Dictionary

    1. Refudiate

    When Sarah Palin decides regular English words aren’t good enough, she’ll just go ahead and make a new one. Here, Refudiate bridges the gap between “refuse” and “repudiate”, to mean exactly what she wants it to mean.
    “The President and his wife … they can refudiate what this group (the NAACP) is saying.” – Sarah Palin, on F-F-Fox News
    refudiate refuse sarah palin fox news portmanteau
    by Nashsibanda
    2. Refudiate
    A term used to indicate the underlying racism of the speaker. If you as a racist need another group to give up their culture you ask that group to refudiate their beliefs and culture. Users of this term reject the English language, facts, rationalism and black people.
    Sarah Palin asked NY Muslims to “refudiate” their mosque near the 9/11 WTC site.
    palin hick idiot racism teabagger muslims
    by urtbada213
    3. Refudiate
    A made-up English word: a combination of two legitimate words; “refute” and “repudiate”. This is similar to George W. Bush’s use of the word “misunderestimate” several years prior.

    Used by Sarah Palin multiple times in print and conversation, she claims her use of “refudiate” is simply her “contributing to the living language” and justifying her ignorance by saying that “Shakespeare liked to coin new words too”.

    Despite the best efforts of the GOP and Tea Party spin doctors, its clear to everyone who wasn’t home-schooled that she’s a fucking idiot.
    She (Palin) asked Michelle Obama to “refudiate” claims that the Tea Party movement is racist.
    refute repudiate recant refudate recall
    by Paddlefoot1980 Jul 19, 2010 share this

    5. refudiate n

    v. to reject with denial

    A portmanteau of repudiate and refuse, famously coined by conservative commentator, Vice Presidential candidate, and drop-out Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

    An earlier instance of the word is found in the June 25, 2010 New York Times article, “When Capitalism Meets Cannabis”. Here, journalist David Segal, quoted a legal marijuana seller. The quote demonstrated a common expressive dysfunction among these people, who would neologize in a chronic marijuana haze.

    Sarah Palin’s innate cognitive disabilities allowed her to independently coin the term on the July 14, 2010 Fox News show, Hannity.

    Sarah Palin used the neologism again in a post to her Twitter account on July 18, 2010. After she was educated by her audience, she deleted the offending post and attempted a correction with two more posts containing the words, “refute” and “reject”. As way of explanation, she compared herself, as a wordsmith, to Shakespeare and asked readers to celebrate her mistakes.
    July 18, 2010: Ground Zero mosque supporters, doesn’t it stab you in the heart as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, (please) refudiate.

  25. Kelley says:

    Indeed, Bjorn. The days of Bush are fast becoming “the good ol’ days,” in more ways than one! Great point!

  26. Bjorn says:

    Really miss the monosyllabic vocab too:)

  27. Heather May says:

    this is one my favorite culturemutt articles so far. :)

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