Monday, September 13, 2010

Joe Conason on GOP's Islamophobia: "Latest Product of the Same Old Manufacturing Process"

Chilling commentary by Joe Conason today at Salon, about how the Republican party has managed to leverage Islamophobia as a political wedge issue in this fall's election cycle.  And about the price the whole world will likely pay as cynical attacks on Islamic people and Islamic citizens of the U.S.--for the political gain of a few--lay the groundwork for more retaliatory attacks by Muslim extremists.

As Conason notes, the attempt to capitalize on hatred of a religious minority is cold and calculated, and has everything to do with a window of opportunity that folks like Newt Gingrich see now, with a sitting president widely thought by misinformed Americans to be Muslim.  And, as he also points out, this political ploy is simply the latest in a long series of tactics used by the party of No to undermine progressive movements and seize power in the U.S. by stigmatizing the vulnerable minority du jour.

Conason concludes,

Paranoia and prejudice have long been instruments of right-wing politics in America, from the Red Scare and McCarthyism to the Nixonite Southern strategy. The current outbreak of Islamophobia represents the latest product of the same old manufacturing process. It is irresponsible and dangerous as well as cynical precisely because we face deadly adversaries whose movements profit from every rift between the West and Muslims.

The only way to fight this fire is with fire.  The only way that Americans committed to the core civic values of our democracy can fight such fire is by insisting on our adherence to those values.  One of the key reasons that Newt et al. are now able to capitalize so grandly on Islamophobic fear is that the current leadership of the Democratic party has relinquished rhetoric about values and ethical principles to the rabid right.

To the detriment of an entire nation and the globe itself.

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