Monday, September 13, 2010
Why the GOP embraced Islamophobia - Republican Party - Salon.com
Fanning fears of Muslims has never made better -- or more cynical -- political sense
BY JOE CONASON
Only a few years ago, an angry political demonstration at ground zero on September 11 would have been deemed an unthinkable offense not only to the bereaved families of victims and responders but to the nation. Yet this anniversary featured a raucous and highly partisan rally, as well over a thousand protesters gathered to show their opposition to the Park51 Islamic center – and to listen to tirades from Republican politicians and commentators against the Obama administration.
More than a flaky Florida pastor’s cancelled threat to burn the Quran (or the actual scattered torchings that took place the same day), the ground zerio rally answered the question posed repeatedly over the past few weeks: Why are millions of Americans suddenly caught up in a torrent of fear and fury over Islam so strong that both the president and the commanding general of U.S. forces in Afghanistan have warned of deadly consequences? What motivates the outpouring of rancor against Muslims, especially in the conservative media? How did they escape until now?
The answer is that until the advent of the Obama presidency, Republicans had no reason to scapegoat Muslims or demonize Islam -- and indeed, they could not have inflamed those prejudices without damaging their own leaders, especially George W. Bush.
Evidence of the blatantly partisan character of the current anti-Muslim campaign can be found everywhere -- on Fox News Channel, cable channel of the GOP; in the latest excrescence of Newt Gingrich and David Bossie; and in the roster of speakers at Saturday's "no mosque" rally, which featured a video message from John Bolton, the Bush administration’s former ambassador to the United Nations.