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“More Rancid Red Meat”: For Republicans, Muslims Will Be The Gays of 2016

Now that Republicans realize that the fight over gay marriage is over, they’re pivoting back to the old reliable: Muslims. It’s true that Muslim-bashing among Republicans is hardly new, but I think that as 2016 approaches we’re going to see even more of it as candidates try to outflank one another.

The latest example was LouisianaGovernor’s Bobby Jindal’s speech on Monday in London. Jindal told the audience that there are “no-go zones” in Europe where Muslims have in essence carved out Islamic “autonomous” zones that are ruled by Koranic law and where non-Muslims fear to tread. His point, of course, was to warn Americans that Muslims could try the same thing in the United States.

Now if that concept sounds familiar it’s because last week Fox News served up this same rancid red meat to its viewers. Some Fox News anchors claimed these so-called “no-go zones” existed in parts of France. And Fox News’ terrorism “expert” Steve Emerson even went as far as to say that Birmingham, England, the nation’s second biggest city with more than one million people, was a “totally Muslim city where non-Muslims don’t go in.

The backlash to these comments was swift. Even British Prime Minster David Cameron responded, “When I heard this, frankly, I choked on my porridge and I thought it must be April Fools Day. This guy is clearly a complete idiot.”

Fox News stirring up fear of Muslims is nothing new. In fact, in my view it’s part of Fox’s business model since its viewers hold the most negative views of Muslims of any cable news audience. Fox is simply giving their viewers what they want to see.

But a few days ago, Fox did something truly shocking. They apologized for making the claims about Muslim-controlled “no-go zones” in Europe. In fact, they apologized not once, but four times, and admitted unequivocally that these “no-go zones” don’t even exist.

Yet even though the Fox retractions occurred days before Jindal delivered his speech, that didn’t stop him from asserting the same baseless claims. After his speech, Jindal was asked by a CNN reporter for specifics on where exactly these “no-go zones “are located. Jindal, in what looked almost like a sketch from Saturday Night Live, hemmed and hawed, finally responding: “I think your viewers know.

For those unfamiliar with Jindal, he’s no Louie Gohmert. He’s an Ivy League graduate and a Rhodes scholar. Jindal’s remarks were not a mistake, but rather part of a calculated strategy to garner support from more conservative Republicans for an expected2016 presidential run.

Now, in the past, candidates trying to garner support from these right wing voters could use opposition to gay marriage to curry favor. As conservative James Kirchick noted in an article he penned for The Wall Street Journal in 2008, the Republican Party has a long history of its candidates using not just opposition to gay marriage, but also anti-gay rhetoric to attract support from the GOP Base. Kirchick went on to urge Republicans to “kiss gay-bashing goodbye.

But we still saw this bigotry in the 2012 race. For example, Rick Perry ran a campaign commercial that said you know “there’s something wrong with this country when gays can openly serve in the military.

Polls, however, now show a majority of Americans support gay marriage. And even the Mike Huckabees of the GOP would have to admit that after the Supreme Court announced Friday that it is considering the constitutionality of same-sex marriage this term, gay marriage will likely soon be the law of the land. Bottom line: gay marriage will probably be dead as an issue capable of rallying conservative voters.

So what do you do if you are a Republican candidate seeking conservative votes? Simple. Bash Muslims. We are truly an easy target. First, Muslims are a small percentage of our nation’s population at approximately 1 to 2 percent. Second, there are horrible Muslims who do commit terror in the name of our faith, which does offer cover for anti-Muslim bigotry. Third, we still don’t have many allies outside of our community that stand with us.

Sure, we have some interfaith supporters. But when ant-gay comments are made, like in the case of “Duck Dynasty’s” Phil Roberson in 2013, the response by the left was swift and united. But with anti-Muslim bigotry, we don’t see that. We see silence from many on the left, including from most Democratic elected officials. And worse, we see some outright anti-Muslim fear mongering by so-called liberals like Bill Maher.

If I’m right, what can we expect to see as the 2016 presidential race heats up? More speeches like Jindal’s designed to stir up fear with no factual support. His remarks were applauded by conservative Larry Kudlow in The National Review.

Even more comments like the ones recently made by Oklahoma State Representative John Bennett that Muslims are a “cancer” that must be cut of our country and that Muslim-Americans are not loyal to the United States but to the “constitution of Islam.” Bennett received a standing ovation from the conservative audience that heard these remarks, and the Oklahoma GOP Chair even backed him up.

And possibly even more comments like the one made by newly sworn in member of Congress Jody Hice who stated that Islam is not a religion and doesn’t deserve First Amendment protection. Was there any backlash from GOP leaders to this remarks? Nope, in fact people like Red States’ Erick Erickson even spoke at one of his fundraisers and wrote he was “proud to support” Hice.

This is a far cry from the 2008 presidential race when John McCain countered anti-Muslim remarks made by a supporter at one of his campaign rallies.

My hope is that I’m wrong. But after seeing close to a thousand people over the weekend protesting a Muslim-American event in Texas that was ironically organized to counter extremism, I’m not so optimistic.

The more conservative parts of the GOP base tend to vote in higher numbers in the primaries. So don’t’ be surprised when you see Republican candidates trying to get their attention with this cut of red meat.

 

By: Dean Obeidallah, The Daily Beast, January 21, 2015

January 22, 2015 Posted by | Bobby Jindal, Muslims, No Go Zones | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The South’s Victim Complex”: How Right-Wing Paranoia Is Driving New Wave Of Radicals

Southern voters will go to the polls in November 150 years, almost to the day, after Gen. Sherman commenced his March to the Sea, breaking the back of the Confederacy and leaving a burnt scar across the South. The wound never fully healed. Humiliation and resentment would smolder for generations. A sense of persecution has always mingled with the rebellious independence and proud notions of the South’s latent power, the promise that it “will rise again!” Congressman Paul Broun Jr., whose Georgia district spans nearly half of Sherman’s calamitous path to Savannah, evoked the “Great War of Yankee Aggression” in a metaphor to decry the Affordable Care Act on the House floor in 2010. The war, in Broun’s formulation, was not a righteous rebellion so much as a foreign invasion whose force still acts upon the South and its ideological diaspora that increasingly forms the foundation of conservatism.

The persecution narrative deployed by Broun, so woven into Southern culture and politics, has gained national currency. Contemporary conservatism is a Southern politics. Ironically, the Southern persecution narrative, born of defeat, has spread nationwide to form the basis of Republican victories since Reagan and the conservative hegemony that moderated President Clinton, establishing through President George W. Bush nearly 40 years of rightward movement at the national level. It is the South’s principal political export, now a necessary ideological substrate in Republican rhetoric. Lee Atwater, the Karl Rove of the Reagan era, explained the nationalization of Southern politics accomplished with the 1980 campaign and election of President Reagan: “The mainstream issues in [the Reagan] campaign had been, quote, ‘Southern’ issues since way back in the Sixties,” Atwater said in 1981. Likely the foremost representative of that Southern mood was Alabama’s George Wallace, who in his 1963 gubernatorial inaugural address, the infamous “Segregation Forever” speech, invoked Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis and raged that “government has become our god.” Just months later, that omnipotent force would defeat Wallace when President Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard and forced desegregation at the University of Alabama. Wallace, though, would be rewarded for his stand, and the governor carried five Deep South states in his 1968 presidential run.

A century after the Civil War and Reconstruction, the 1960s was a sort of second federal invasion, with the White House strong-arming Wallace, Supreme Court decisions finally implementing Brown’s desegregation order, and the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts radically reshaping Southern politics and culture. “The South went from being behind the times to being the mainstream,” Atwater said. It is helpful to consider the inverse: The mainstream GOP adopted the ’60s-era mood of the South. Atwater does not suggest that the South caught up with a modernized conservatism — i.e., that it ceased to be “behind the times” — but that the larger movement regressed, albeit with rhetorical coding to evade charges of old-school racism.

Since Reagan, then, conservatism’s principal issues cannot be extricated from what animated them in the Southern milieu of their birth. The North, if now only a phantom, prefigured the foreign other always at work in the modern conservatism borrowed from the South. Every major issue is argued in terms of persecution and attack. The racial minority is not the oppressed subaltern but a threat, whether physical or fiscal. Liberatory advances for women and LGBT Americans are assaults upon the family. Religious pluralism and fortifications of the wall between church and state evoke biblical accounts of Christian persecution. Deviations from increasingly neoliberal capitalism are described as authoritarian socialism. Relaxation of military aggression, especially under Obama, is even seen as collusion with the enemy.

Broun, a skilled purveyor of a Southern politics of persecution, was an early alarmist, predicting a violently oppressive, explicitly Hitlerian regime just days after President Obama’s election in 2008. Broun’s repeated evocation of Hitler and Stalin would later find its way into the crass iconography of Tea Party protests. The stakes have always been existential to Broun. In an almost mystical ritual, Broun, a born-again Christian, snuck onto the inaugural stage in 2009 to anoint the door through which Obama would pass with holy oil, entreating God to come to the aid of His besieged and cleanse the new president of his tyrannical evil. Broun’s persecution narrative, dismissed by many at the time as hayseed hyperbole, now forms the basis of conservative arguments on nearly every issue. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, likely 2016 presidential candidate whose star is still rising, adopts the “we want our country back” language and eschatological stakes of the Tea Party. Cruz is joined by newcomer Sens. Ron Johnson, Mike Lee and Rand Paul to form a conservative insurgency in a chamber historically governed by staid and statesmanlike members.

There is a problem, though, for the GOP in the 2014 and subsequent elections: Once the Fort Sumter-like salvo of superlatives and hyperbole is launched, it is likely impossible to quiet the fear and anger of the party’s base. Broun’s successor to represent the shamed land of Sherman’s path brings his own scorched earth rhetoric, sounding more 1860 than 2014. The presumptive successor, Rev. Jody Hice, whose primary win makes November’s general little more than a formality in the heavily conservative district, speaks uniformly in the language of persecution and insurrection. Like, actual insurrection. Hice regularly demands that Americans be permitted the full means of war — e.g., rockets, missiles, etc. — in order to prepare for an eventual armed conflict with the “secular,” “socialist” state. Hice, an evangelical pastor, is an unapologetic theocrat whose persecution complex pervades the entirety of his apocalyptic politics. Hice makes Broun look cuddly by comparison.

The GOP suffers through an internecine fight that shows little sign of slowing. The party’s internal conflict reached its latest peak in primary battles in two prominent Confederate locales: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s historic loss in the old capital of the Confederacy and Sen. Thad Cochran’s controversial victory in Jefferson Davis’ Mississippi, a state whose flag still bears the Confederate battle emblem. Cantor’s primary defeat would have been inconceivable just a few years ago, but the very fervor stoked by Cantor for what many saw as an eventual run at the speakership metastasized further into an implacable anti-establishment impulse from which even Cantor was not exempt. Cochran, targeted as an establishment senator, had to resort to DEFCON 1 tactics and openly beseech Mississippi’s black Democrats to lift him over Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel, a move that became something of a right-wing Alamo. In a late primary strategy, Jody Hice went public with the assertion that his opponent, a pro-business, establishment candidate, was courting the enemy in what the Hice campaign called a “Mississippi Strategy.”

A sort of Mason-Dixon line has begun to trace its way along the GOP’s internal fissures, threatening the coalition solidified by Reagan and sustained through the Bush presidency. After more than a generation of cultivating a narrative founded on persecution and insurrection, the GOP runs the risk of falling victim to a Maslow’s hammer-type predicament. If all you have is victimhood, all disagreement starts to look like oppression, even within your own party. The more Southern, rural, Tea Party wing of the GOP is beginning to resemble the People’s Front of Judea from Monty Python’s “Life of Brian,” whose antipathy toward their Roman oppressors was exceeded only by their hatred for the Judean People’s Front.

Big business and national security Republicans of the party establishment, having benefited from the zeal brought by the martial politics of Southerners, can no longer control the emboldened rogues. The debt ceiling and shutdown episodes, pursued with crusade-like passion by conservative zealots, now frighten big business. Speaker John Boehner revealed the growing rift in a frank press conference after the 2013 shutdown, saying that Tea Party-affiliated groups have “lost all credibility.” Similarly, the intensifying isolationism of politicians like Sen. Rand Paul threatens Republican hawks’ long-standing hold on foreign policy matters.

When he reaches Congress, Rev. Hice will likely be laughed at, just as Broun was. But the politics Broun brought to Washington in 2007 is no longer a joke. The anger in the South is real. Voters along Sherman’s route have their own torches now. Hice’s theocratic, paranoiac and insurrectionist politics should not be scoffed at, if the trajectory charted by Southern politicians like Broun will be bent further with a new wave of radicals and a purging of moderates. The South is finally rising.

 

By: Matthew Pulver, Salon, September 30, 2014

October 1, 2014 Posted by | Conservatives, Paul Broun, The South | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The GOP Still Is Chock Full O’ Nuts”: How Long Can The Republicans Hide The Crazy?

I have to give the Republicans credit for one thing in this election cycle. They’ve been able to keep their crazies quiet. But the big question is: Will some GOP crazy talk seep out between now November 4? In the words of Sarah Palin, I’d have to say, “You betcha.”

We’ve recently seen some glimmers of Republican lunacy. Just last week the Arizona State Republican Party’s vice-chair, Russell Pearce, offered this gem: “You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I’d do is get Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations.” Translation: forced sterilization of poor women to make sure they don’t have more babies. Pearce resigned on Sunday.

That’s an awful remark. But that wouldn’t even get him to the GOP final four of crazy when you compare it with the crap we’ve heard come of the mouths of Republican candidates in recent years.

Who can forget in 2012 the double whammy of GOP Senate candidates comments about rape? First, there was Rep. Todd Akin who told us when there’s a “legitimate rape” of a woman, her body somehow is able to magically block the unwanted pregnancy.

Then came Indiana’s Senate nominee, Richard Mourdock, who told us that pregnancy from rape is in essence a good thing because it’s “something God intended.” Consequently he, like Akin, believed that women who were raped should be legally required to carry the rapist’s child to term.

And in 2010, there was Sharron Angle, who lost a possibly winnable Senate race against Harry Reid in Nevada with comments like people might need to look toward “Second Amendment remedies” to turn this country around and “the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.” It’s not often—in America at least- we see politicians suggest that maybe their political opponent should be shot.

Now some might ask: Maybe we aren’t hearing those types of remarks because the Republican Party no longer has right-wing crazies? (I’ll pause so you can finish laughing.) True, some “wacko birds,” to quote John McCain, lost in the primaries this year, but still the GOP still is chock full o’ nuts.

And I think we are well positioned to see some of these candidates take a journey on the crazy train in the closing weeks of this election cycle. Why? Three reasons. First, the debates are coming up, and as we saw in 2012 with Mourdock, the more these people talk in an unscripted forum, the more likely the guano will ooze out.

Second, in the tighter races, the candidates are feeling the heat. Consequently, they may make an unforced error or try to offer some red meat to the far right hoping it brings their base out in what’s expected to be a low-turnout election.

Finally, there are some male Republican candidates for Senate, like Colorado’s Corey Gardner and North Carolina’s Thom Tillis, who are playing with dynamite. By that I mean they’ve decided to talk birth control thinking it can help them, but one slip up on this issue, and cue the “Republican war on women” headlines.

Any of these scenarios could be trouble for the GOP. And not just for the candidate who made the comment, but it could put Republicans on the defensive nationwide. So in the vein of March Madness, here are my picks for the Final Four of the 2014 GOP championship of crazy.

1. Jody Hice—Choosing Hice is like picking Duke or UConn in the NCAA basketball tournament. Hice, the GOP nominee in Georgia’s conservative 10th congressional district, has already given us a buffet of cuckoo. He has made horribly anti-gay and anti-Muslim comments, plus he thinks women should only run for political office if their husbands consent. And as Stephen Colbert noted two weeks ago, Hice recently confused a quote made by John Quincy Adams with one made by Dolly Parton.

2. Rep. Joni Ernst—The GOP Senate nominee in the battleground state of Iowa has the potential to serve up a prime cut of crazy. During the primary, she stated that U.S. laws “come from God,” and judges must be aware of that when deciding cases. She has called Obama a “dictator,” suggested impeaching him, and advocated that states be able to nullify federal laws they don’t agree with. Plus she gave us a Palinesque commercial where she rode a Harley Davidson while shooting a gun, promising voters that “once she sets her sights on Obamacare, Joni’s gonna unload.”

3. Thom Tillis—Although the Republican Senate nominee in the Tar Heel State is a veteran politician, he still might just deliver up a whopper. In 2011, Tillis did give us a comment that conjures up the ghost of Mitt Romney’s 47 percent remark when he told a crowd: “what we have to do is find a way to divide and conquer the people who are on assistance.” And just a few months ago, Tillis offered us this beaut: Unlike blacks and Hispanics, the “traditional population” in our country isn’t growing.

4. Sam Brownback—The Kansas Governor might be the sleeper in this race to crazy. He’s in a tight reelection campaign and he’s very right wing. In fact, during a TV interview in 2012, he told a female caller that if she didn’t like the fact that her boss didn’t want to cover her birth control because of his religious beliefs, she should “go work somewhere else.”

Those are my top four. Sure, I could’ve picked others. There are perennial wingnut powerhouses like Iowa Rep. Steve King and Texas’ resident wacko Rep. Louie Gohmert, but I’m feeling pretty good with my choices.

So now it’s time sit back and let the games begin. I can almost guarantee you that in the final weeks of this campaign one of the above candidates will make headlines with some outrageous comment. For people like Hice, who is in a safe GOP district, it may not matter. But for those in tight races like Tillis and Ernst, one slip up could allow a Democratic candidate to be the Cinderella story of this year. And a few Akin-esque gaffes could actually help Democrats be bracket busters and retain control of the Senate and pick off a few governorships.

 

By: Dean Obeidallah, The Daily Beast, September 20, 2014

September 21, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Midterm Elections, Republicans | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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