GOP presidential contender Herman Cain can’t let go of his prejudice toward American Muslims.
Earlier in his candidacy, Cain made some hurtful remarks, decrying the building of mosques in the United States and stating that he would impose a loyalty test on Muslim Americans who became part of his Administration. But, for a while, he seemed to repent, even visiting a mosque in an act of contrition.
He wasn’t able to put it to rest, however. In a recent GQ interview, he claimed that “a majority of Muslims share the extremist views," basing this on what a single “prominent voice in the Muslim community” told him.
Both Cain and his source are flat-out wrong here.
“In the aftermath of the attacks on September 11, 2001, and subsequent terrorist attacks elsewhere around the world, a key counterterrorism concern is the possible radicalization of Muslims living in the United States,” states a report by Duke and the University of North Carolina that came out last year. “Yet, the record over the past eight years contains relatively few examples of Muslim Americans that have radicalized and turned toward violent extremism.”
A comprehensive Gallup survey in August of the Muslim-American community reveals that the community has little affinity for extremism.
“Underscoring their lack of sympathy for Al Qaeda, Muslim Americans are also the least likely major religious group in the U.S. to say there is ever a justification for individuals or small groups to attack civilians,” states the Gallup report. “Roughly one in ten Muslim Americans say such attacks are sometimes justified. In every other major religious group except Mormons, the proportion of people who say such attacks are sometimes justified is at least twice that.”
The facts haven’t stopped Cain from engaging in anti-Muslim bile. But, sadly, he’s not alone. Many Republicans (including Cain’s rivals Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann) have repeatedly made anti-Muslim statements.
“Rightwing activists, elected officials and even some presidential candidates have launched an overt assault on American Muslims, using a religious minority as a scapegoat for any number of national fears and frustrations,” Michael Keegan, president of People For the American Way, stated earlier this year. “Anti-Muslim extremists and the political leaders who repeat their talking points are spreading baseless and destructive fears and explicitly disregarding the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of religion and equal treatment under the law.”
The group detailed eight lies that Islamophobes spread about American Muslims, such as that they are inherently dangerous to this country and that the religion they follow is a false one.
The anti-Muslim network is a well-financed one. A report issued in August by the Center for American Progress reveals deep pockets—and the funders who possess them.
“Seven charitable groups provided $42.6 million to Islamophobia think tanks between 2001 and 2009,” the report states. These funders include the Richard Mellon Scaife foundations and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, as well as some obscure ones.
If it weren’t for the steady stream of vitriol, Muslim Americans would possibly give the Republican Party a second look.
“What is it that has alienated Muslims from the GOP?” asks a recent article by Khurram Dara at policymic.com. “Rhetoric that perpetuates a fear of Islam and average Muslims. … To regain the American Muslim vote, Republicans need not make any policy concessions whatsoever; all they have to do is stop spewing hateful rhetoric.”
But there are more serious consequences, too. Several individuals in the United States have been murdered since September 11, 2001, because of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab prejudice. Dozens of mosques have been vandalized, defaced, or torched, and dozen of other Muslim religious sites have faced opposition to their establishment.
Cain and his fellow Republicans need to cease and desist.
If you liked this article by Amitabh Pal, the managing editor of the Progressive magazine, please check out his article entitled "We Need a Different Approach Toward Iran."
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