The Council On American-Islamic Relations placed an open letter yesterday in the conservative Washington Times newspaper imploring Republicans to move away from the Islamophobic stance that has taken hold of the party. The letter, which was co-sponsored by several other Muslim-American groups, was titled, “GOP Asked to Reassess Its Relationship with American Muslims.” Here’s an excerpt:
“We repeatedly hear — primarily from Republicans — that our faith is a threat to the United States. Such things have been said about Catholics, Jews, Mormons, and other religions as well…Additionally, mainstream Republican candidates have questioned our loyalty and even threatened to undermine the Constitution in efforts to exclude us from the political process, all without any pushback from party leaders.”
The Republican Party has indeed embraced fringe attitudes toward Muslim-Americans. Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) 2011 hearings on the “Radicalization of American Muslims” were criticized for blaming “all Muslims for the crimes of a few” and demonizing “a whole broad base of human beings.” To make matters worse, since 2010, Republican-controlled legislatures in Kansas, Oklahoma and several other states have passed anti-Sharia laws, effectively legislating Islamophobia (a federal appellate court ruled Oklahoma’s ban unconstitutional). Then, this year, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) topped it all off by pushing an outrageous theory that the Muslim Brotherhood had a “deep penetration in the halls of our United States government,” including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s top aide.
A well-funded Islamphobic network looms in the background of the Republican assault on Muslim-Americans. CAP detailed the network in its 2011 report titled “Fear Inc.”:
“[T]his core group of deeply intertwined individuals and organizations manufacture and exaggerate threats of “creeping Sharia,” Islamic domination of the West, and purported obligatory calls to violence against all non-Muslims by the Quran.
This network of hate is not a new presence in the United States. Indeed, its ability to organize, coordinate, and disseminate its ideology through grassroots organizations increased dramatically over the past 10 years. Furthermore, its ability to influence politicians’ talking points and wedge issues for the upcoming 2012 elections has mainstreamed what was once considered fringe, extremist rhetoric.“
It’s had an impact: only four percent of all Muslim-Americans polled by CAIR voted for Republican candidate Mitt Romney. In contrast, nearly 86 percent voted for President Obama. And it’s not like Muslim-Americans are dedicated Democrats, in fact, nearly forty-two percent of those CAIR polled said they were independent voters.
The CAIR letter notes that not all Republicans buy into bizarre, Islamophobic theories. Republican Governors like New Jersey’s Chris Christie, responding to Islamophobic critics of a judge he nominated, said, “this Sharia law business is crap.” Christie has also said that, “it’s just crazy. And I’m tired of dealing with the crazies.” Tennessee’s Republican Governor Bill Haslam made similar comments yesterday, defending a Muslim-American adviser he nominated earlier this year.