Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Paradox of the Muslim Republican

There's a story up at TPM today about how the current "Ground Zero Mosque" circus has Muslim Republicans worried that, in stoking the embers of racial and religious discord to further their political fortunes, their party is going too far.

To which I say: Really?  It took this?

Almost two years ago, during the brutal summer stretch of the last presidential campaign, I posted about an incident at a McCain rally where someone showed up lobbing a bunch of anti-Muslim hate-speech and he was promptly tossed out by the gathered crowd, including several Muslim McCain supporters.  That wasn't the story, though.  CNN had planned to interview the McCain worker who confronted the guy -- one Daniel Zubairi, a Muslim -- but the McCain camp had him pulled at the last minute.  As I said back then, what probably transpired was that the campaign looked at the political landscape and decided that they needed the hateful bigot vote slightly more than the Muslim Republican vote, so exit Mr. Zubairi, stage left.

The question I asked back then is the same question I'm asking now: what else do you need?  How much more of this stuff do you have to see?  After years of systematic marginalization, after the bastardized transitive property that saw Obama labelled as a Muslim and thus intrinsically evil, is the ginned-up Cordoba Controversy that the GOP has cynically run with -- and the rampant Islamophobia that's followed in its wake -- enough to finally convince you that the Republican Party's so-called "Big Tent" doesn't have very much room for you?

When naked political ambition unfettered by notions of common decency is coupled with rampant ignorance, the results can be pretty darn scary.  And the way this whole conversation has so rapidly cascaded from "No 'Ground Zero Mosque,'" to "No mosques, period," to "No Fourteenth Amendment," feels to me like the start of a Twilight Zone episode that inevitably ends with the gathered mob ominously looking at each other and saying, "What have we done?" Then Rod Serling's voiceover comes on and says something like, "Human beings sure are dumb aren't they?  And not just in...the Twilight Zone." (doo-doo-doo-doo....)  

That probably needs a rewrite or two, but you get the idea.

The point is that whatever principles of fiscal and/or social conservatism that may have initially drawn Muslims to self-identify as Republicans are currently being steamrolled by the desire of the party's most prominent voices to assert some -- any -- political advantage, even if it puts an entire group of fellow American citizens in the crosshairs.  Of course, the sad flipside to this is that the Democrats have also made it amply clear that their position as it pertains to the Muslim vote (and the Latino vote, and the African-American vote, and...) is like the abusive spouse telling their companion, "Where will you go?  Who'll have you?"

Insofar as the Cordoba mess goes, with their wishy-washiness, silence, or outright opposition, the Dems haven't exactly done their bit to defend the First against all comers either.  However, there's a difference between fanning the flames and running from them -- the latter denotes cowardice, the former contempt.  Between Mitt Romney opposing the center's construction (I'll let you digest the irony on that one), Sarah Palin's "peaceful Muslims" tweetise, and Newt Gingrich invoking Godwin's Law with his "Nazi symbol at Auschwitz" comment, I'd think Muslim Republicans have all the proof they need: The GOP has made its bed -- and they're not in it.

2 comments:

Fasih Baig said...

Thanks Zaki. I just can't stop laughing while reading your essay.

Jeremy said...

The cognitive dissonance embedded in the republican party these past few years is beyond my ability to comprehend. The 14th Amendment argument is beyond reprehensible; ironic though it maybe. How it is possible for them to keep a straight face while spewing ignorance and hatred makes me nervous.