I guess Buzzfeed never stopped to think that Americans have had their eyes opened to the existential threat that Islam and Muslims pose to America. One does not have to be an Islamic scholar to understand the urgency in doing whatever is necessary to keep Islam from infiltrating this country. In the big cities of Western Europe, it is the new normal to see burqa-clad women wherever you go, and hundreds of Muslim ‘NO GO’ zones where even police, firefighters, and emergency vehicles dare not go without an armed escort. It’s one of the reasons Donald Trump was elected.
Buzzfeed A state lawmaker in Oklahoma refused to meet with Muslim constituents unless they replied to a questionnaire asking if they beat their wives. A Nebraska state senator suggested that any Muslim wanting to enter the United States be forced to eat pork first. And a Rhode Island legislator advocated herding Syrian refugees into a camp, writing in an email that Muslims seek “to murder, rape, and decapitate anyone who is a non-Muslim.”
Those are among dozens of examples of state and local Republican politicians and officials publicly attacking Islam in 49 states since 2015, typically with impunity, according to a BuzzFeed News analysis. Some elected officials shared hate-filled social media posts urging violence against Muslims while others used subtler,loaded language to smear Islam as they opposed mosque-building projects or wrote bills aimed at what they portrayed as the threat of Sharia.
The anti-Muslim rhetoric in virtually every state reflects the general coarsening of political speech in the anything-goes era of President Donald Trump, who’s lashed out at Muslims and other targets. Still, the jabs at Islam are set apart by their sheer ugliness as well as by companion efforts aimed at restricting Muslim civil liberties and immigration. Muslim groups worry that politicians’ unchecked vilification of a religion followed by more than 3.3 million Americans opens the door for even bigger blows than the travel ban. (Hopefully, it means a ban on the practice of Islam
“It has become an acceptable plank within the Republican Party to demonize Muslims,” said Robert McCaw, government affairs director for designated terrorist group CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations). “Policymakers take ideas and turn them into action. That can endanger communities like Muslims if Islamophobic sentiment is turned into law.” (But it will make American communities safer)
Muslims have no reason to believe the White House will take the lead in addressing the inflammatory language, which in some cases amounts to hate speech (Any criticism of Islam is considered ‘hate speech’ by Muslims). Trump, who’s also disparaged Islam, last month nominated CIA director Mike Pompeo for secretary of state despite his long history of bashingIslam and associating with anti-Muslim bigots. (A superb choice)
Trump then picked an even more rabid anti-Islam figure as his new national security adviser: John Bolton, former UN ambassador and chair of the Gatestone Institute, a nonprofit that educates about the threat of Islam through stories about “Muslim mass-rape gangs (In Europe and the US)” and attempts to create an “an Islamist Colony” in the United Kingdom. (Actually they call it an “Islamic State”)
“Folks who are espousing this hateful rhetoric really are being rewarded by being nominated into these top positions,” said Hoda Hawa of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, one of several advocacy groups at the briefing on the Hill. The endorsement of anti-Muslim rhetoric by a president is chilling for many Americans who say their own histories show where dehumanization leads. (There you go again, trying to equate the treatment of Muslims in America with Jews in Nazi Germany…the same treatment that Muslims would love to inflict on Jews in America, today)
David Inoue, executive director of the Japanese American Citizens League, said the stakes go up when it’s elected officials — not schoolyard bulliesor racist neighbors — vilifying a group. “People try to make someone not American because of the religion they follow, the way that they dress, the way they look, and that’s exactly the discrimination that led to the incarceration of Japanese Americans,” Inoue said. (Yes Japanese and Muslims have one thing in common – they both sneak attacked America – which led to war)
The incidents BuzzFeed News examined came almost exclusively from Republican politicians, in a range of government posts: a Wyoming sheriff, the Ohio treasurer, a slew of state lawmakers.
BuzzFeed News found incidents involving Republicans since 2015 in every state but Utah, where in 2010 a state representative introduced (and later withdrew) anti-Sharia legislation, a tactic pushed by anti-Islam organizations such as ACT for America. (Let’s not forget that Muslims and Mormons have a lot in common like polygamy)
The count included anti-Muslim language in speeches and on social media as well as policies and legislation intended to block Muslim immigration and mosque-building projects. BuzzFeed News compiled incidents through a state-by-state search of local news reports, as well as from statements by advocacy groups. Only those with documentation, such as news coverage or an admission by the official, were included.
In some states, the incident was a one-off from a local official in a rural, conservative district. But many others had multiple senior leaders attacking Islam in repeated incidents dating back years, with no punishment from either political parties or voters. Some have since left office, but most are still in place or still involved in local governance.
Take Tennessee state Sen. Bill Ketron, who in 2013 made headlines by expressing concern over new sinks in the state capitol that he suspected were for Muslims to wash before prayers. In fact, they were for custodians to rinse mops (an honest mistake because they look alike).
In 2016, he invited Dutch politician Geert Wilders, an icon of anti-Islam advocates, to attend the Republican National Convention, where reports say he was greeted warmly by GOP stalwarts. The Tennessee ACLU, immigrant groups, and Muslim activists issued statements condemning Ketron’s invitation to Wilders, but the lawmaker faced no official consequence for his self-described friendship with a man who’s called Islam the “ideology of a retarded culture.” (Brilliant!)
While most of the politicians used insinuation and coded language to raise suspicions about Islam, some of the rhetoric was shockingly overt. In January, South Dakotans representing different religions gathered at their state capitol for an interfaith celebration and asked Republican lawmaker Neal Tapio to pose for a photo. He agreed, but then launched into a tirade against Islam that continued even as the stunned visitors tried to drown him out by singing “America the Beautiful,” according to video and local news reports. (Practically guaranteed to get him elected)
Rhode Island state Sen. Elaine Morgan inadvertently sent an email to colleagues blasting Muslims as murderous and recommending that Syrian refugees be housed in camps; she later stood by her anti-refugee comments but said she’d sent the email before editing it to make clear she was referring to “fanatical” Muslims. (According to Turkish leader, Recep Erdogan, “there is no radical Islam or moderate Islam. Islam is Islam.”)
In 2016, New Hampshire lawmaker Kenneth Weyler said giving public benefits to “any person or family that practices Islam is aiding and abetting the enemy.” (They are) Also in 2016, Jason Rapert, a state senator in Arkansas, said on Facebook that Muslims “wait for every opportunity to convert Americans to Islam or kill the infidels — that is what their holy book the Koran instructs them to do.” (It does)
In the same year, Florida lawmaker Tom Goodson asked a CAIR official who’d been lobbying against a bill aimed at refugees whether it was safe to ride the elevator with her. Goodson later said he was joking, but the CAIR official, Laila Abdelaziz, wrote on Facebook that the encounter was “not funny. It hurt.” (Yes, the truth hurts sometimes)
In Alabama, at least four senior officials disparaged Islam or Muslims in recent years: the governor, a member of Congress, a state legislator, and a police chief. All are Republicans. State Rep. Mack Butler last year asked on social media, “Have you noticed that we keep hearing how Islam is a religion of peace as they blow people up?” Alabama lawmaker Mo Brooks said in 2016 that Muslims want “to kill every homosexual in the United States.”
The same year, Gurley Police Chief Barry Pendergraft posted a video of himself with ammunition under the caption, “100 more bacon grease covered bullets in the box! This relaxes me so!!!”
In his State of the State address in 2016, then–Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said that a perpetrator of the deadly Paris attacks that year was a Syrian refugee (most of the assailants were French or Belgian Muslims; two were Iraqis). Throughout that part of his speech, Bentley made overly broad statements to amplify the threat of Muslim refugees.
When even their governor smears them, who’s left to speak up for Muslims in Alabama? Probably not the highest-ranking leader from the state: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who received Senate confirmation despite 400 civil rights groups, 1,400 law professors, and 70 reproductive health groups protesting his record on race, immigration, and women’s rights. Help also isn’t likely to come from Sessions’ former aide Stephen Miller, who’s now a Trump adviser and an author of the travel ban that’s mired in court battles.
One tactic that appears to be spreading is a sort of “vetting” process for Muslim citizens. Last year, Texas legislator Kyle Biedermann sent surveys to mosques and Muslim student groups across the state with loaded questions that linked Islam with terrorism and intolerance, such as asking whether they support protection for people who leave Islam, or agree with a ban on the Muslim Brotherhood. Muslim activists said the survey amounted to a “loyalty pledge.” (Something that Muslims would never give because all their loyalty is to Islam, not the country in which they reside)
In neighboring Oklahoma, state Rep. John Bennettrefused to meet with Muslim constituents unless they replied to questionnaires that asked, for example, whether they beat their wives. Bennett also has called Islam “a cancer.”
A copy of the survey, obtained and released by CAIR, shows that it came from ACT for America, which has pushed politicians and law enforcement officers across the country to see Islam as inherently violent and incompatible with life in the United States. When constituents share those dim views of Islam, stunts such as the survey become useful for politicians, say analysts who monitor anti-Muslim hostility.
“The national campaign of bigotry was so raw, we know that it’s inspired copycats who really want to capitalize on demonizing Muslims as a political strategy,” said Scott Simpson, a spokesperson for Muslim Advocates, a nonprofit activist group focusing on legal issues. (Muslims do a better job of demonizing themselves than we could ever do for them)
The incidents compiled by BuzzFeed News are backed up by a report released in Marchfrom the Washington-based New America think tank. Researchers led by Robert McKenzie, head of the Muslim Diaspora Initiative, found “a significant increase in anti-Muslim activities since late 2015.” (Coinciding with the increase in Muslim terrorism around the world) McKenzie said he was aware of the anti-Muslim rhetoric before starting the project, but nevertheless was struck by how “outright nasty” some of the incidents were.
In the past, such prominent Muslim panderers as George W. Bush and Mitt Romney have defended US Muslims in the face of attacks from hostile parts of the party. No national figure is taking up that mantle now. (Gee, I can’t imagine why)
In 2016, a three-term Republican senator from Utah, Bob Bennett, drew relatives to his hospital bed to relay a final wish: to thank Muslims for being in the country and to apologize to them for the election of Trump, Bennett’s family told the Daily Beast. After suffering a stroke that complicated his pancreatic cancer, the report said, Bennett, a Mormon, had become fixated on pushing back against the anti-Muslim rhetoric he saw spreading in his party. (Ah, yes, birds of a feather, that Mormon-Muslim Brotherhood thing again)