Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The GOP's Muslim Problem

Those of you who follow this site regularly know I've spent quite a bit of time for the last year-and-change covering the alarming rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric and actions in the public sphere, much of it propelled on the backs of electioneering politicians more interested in fearing-and-smearing their way to short-term political gains than fostering things like "understanding" and "education." Certainly, politics explains why the Republican party worked so hard to reach out to American Muslims during George W. Bush's first White House run, and it also explains why they dropped them like a bad habit shortly thereafter (y'know, what with 9/11 and all...).

Still, given how hard the GOP has worked over the last ten years to marginalize the Muslim community (something that became unambiguously clear -- as if there were any doubts -- with last year's Park51 kerfuffle), it's hard for me to understand why any Muslim would still vote Republican. In fact, you may even recall that my first piece to appear at The Huffington Post meditated on exactly that question. Well, Tim Murphy over at Mother Jones has grabbed that ball and run with it, examining the history of both parties' outreach (or lack thereof) to America's Muslims, including the heady days in the run-up to the 2000 election when George Bush (gasp!) visited a mosque, to the low-lows almost immediately thereafter.

I also think Murphy pretty much bullseyes the longterm demographic reality faced by the GOP when he says, "over the last few years, through harsh immigration laws, an embrace of 'otherism' and rhetorical jabs at Islam, GOPers have consolidated their grip on white voters at the expense of virtually everyone else." Where the once-Grand Ol' Party goes from here is anyone's guess, but at this point the xenophobia that's become part-and-parcel of the Republican message has left them so far down a ditch of their own digging that the only option left is to keep digging, which, to look at the field of luminaries currently vying for the party's 2012 nod, they seem more than happy to do.

No comments: