Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Republican "Islamofascism" Campaign

Juan Cole in Salon:
Giuliani complained that during their debates, Democratic rivals "never mentioned the word 'Islamic terrorist,' 'Islamic extremist,' 'Islamic fascist,' 'terrorist,' whatever combination of those words you want to use, [the] words never came up." He added, "I can't imagine who you insult if you say 'Islamic terrorist.' You don't insult anyone who is Islamic who isn't a terrorist."

But people are not "Islamic," they are Muslim. And one most certainly does insult Muslims by tying their religion to movements such as terrorism or fascism. Muslims perceive a double standard in this regard: Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols would never be called "Christian terrorists" even though they were in close contact with the Christian Identity Movement. No one would speak of Christofascism or Judeofascism as the Republican candidates speak of Islamofascism. Muslims point out that persons of Christian heritage invented fascism, not Muslims, and deny that Muslim movements have any link to the mass politics of the 1930s in Europe...

Current GOP front-runner John McCain has been prone to hyperbole and has let some bigoted statements escape his lips as well. He has said that the threat from Islamic extremism is greater than the one presented by the Soviet Union. Recently, McCain proclaimed, "I'm not interested in trading with al-Qaida. All they want to trade is burqas... " The senator seemed to be relating the Muslim custom of veiling to terrorism. The Detroit Free Press, whose city has one of the largest Muslim populations, reported on Jan. 12 that McCain's remarks were hurtful to American Muslims. "Local Muslims say that criticizing al-Qaida is legitimate, but wonder why he would make a snide remark about a dress? The remark was especially bothersome, some said, considering that McCain's adopted daughter, Bridget McCain, is from one of the biggest Muslim countries, Bangladesh." One would think that raising a daughter from the Muslim world in the United States today would be difficult enough, even without the adoptive father's denigrating the customs of the women from that culture.

On another occasion, asked whether a Muslim candidate for president would be acceptable, McCain replied, "I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles ... personally, I prefer someone who I know who has a solid grounding in my faith. But that doesn't mean that I'm sure that someone who is Muslim would not make a good president. I don't say that we would rule out under any circumstances someone of a different faith. I just would -- I just feel that that's an important part of our qualifications to lead."

But according to Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." Secularists and Jews joined American Muslims in condemning McCain's assertion that the United States was founded on Christian principles, and that Christian faith could be a key determinate for taking the Oval Office.


MT said...

I don't say that we would rule out under any circumstances someone of a different faith.

Sounds like a strict constructionist walking right up to the "test" line and proving with calculus he hasn't crossed by defining it as just a rule of thumb.

MT said...

It's also a kind of doublespeak. "I'd sacrifice my life to ensure no south paw ever wields the Presidential Seal. I don't say I would rule out under any circumstances someone left handed."

You can choose to hear what I say, but only I say what I say. I suppose it's the old "quoting out of context" defense.

troutsky said...

First candidate espousing Buddhist principles gets my vote.Not that it's a litmus test.

Jessica said...

It is obvious that a lot of people would rather vote for someone who shares their values. And people cannot be expected to leave their faiths and values at the door step when voting-but when does it go too far? When does religion interfere with politics?

There is a movie that just came out titled:"Article VI: Faith. Politics. America." The film was directed by Bryan Hall and Jack Donaldson. It is an intense discussion of the role of faith in politics. The title is taken from Article Six of the United States Constitution: "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

If you haven't seen the trailer I suggest you check it out:

(DVD's just went on sale as well.) Let me know what you think!

troutsky said...

No one is expected to leave their faith at the doorstep but to set aside notions of Absolute Truth when entering a pluralist, public sphere. It is the difference between a discussion and competing lectures.

MT said...

When does religion interfere with politics?

When it prevents reasonableness from governing.