March 13, 2011


GOP's Muslim stand isn't helping the country or the party (Dick Polman, 3/12/11, Philadelphia Inquirer)

It's well-established that the Republicans are broadly unpopular with all kinds of minorities - blacks, Jews, gays, Latinos, Asians. Not content to rest on its laurels, however, the white people's party is now working assiduously to alienate yet another minority group: Muslim Americans.

Those voters, who are heavily concentrated in swing states such as Ohio, Michigan, and Virginia, had long been trending Democratic anyway, thanks to the conservatives' post-9/11 scapegoating rhetoric. But the new House Republican hearings on the "radicalization in the American Muslim community" - and the implicit message that the rest of us should Be Very Afraid - will likely put the kibosh on the GOP outreach efforts that George W. Bush successfully pioneered a scant decade ago. [...]

To chart the GOP's swift descent into demonization, let's begin with what President Bush said just six days after 9/11: "America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country. . . . They love America just as much as I do." But here is King in 2004, speaking to Sean Hannity: "You could say that 80 to 85 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists" - a claim he has since reiterated.

You can claim it, but that doesn't make it true. In 2008, ethnicity experts at Tufts University and the University of Washington, working with the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, created the Muslim American Public Opinion Survey - the most ambitious poll ever conducted in the community - and found that its eight million denizens were "middle class, assimilating quickly, and highly supportive of the American political system." The mosques are key to the assimilation process; 95 percent of regular mosque attendants say they believe Islam is compatible with U.S. political values. As the researchers put it, "The more religious American Muslims happen to be, the more they participate in American politics."

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 13, 2011 7:47 AM
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