Archive for 2012

Obama Campaign Releases Blatantly anti-Arab Video Ad

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2012 by loonwatch

Barack_Obama

Barack Obama

The Obama campaign created an Ad where they try and juxtapose a “moderate” John McCain against a “radical” Mitt Romney. In the process they fail to address anti-Arab racism:

Obama campaign releases blatantly anti-Arab video ad

by Ali Abu Nimah (Electronic Intifada)

US President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign has just released a blatantly anti-Arab video ad on its official YouTube channel.

The Hill reported:

An Obama campaign Web ad released Tuesday looks to tie Mitt Romney to the controversial assertions held by real estate mogul and reality show host Donald Trump, who has become one of the Romney campaign’s most visible surrogates.

The ad, called “Two Republican Nominees,” aims to do so by contrasting presumptive 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney negatively when compared to the supposedly more moderate Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee Obama defeated in 2008.

Blatant anti-Arab racism

But The Hill fails to note the blatant anti-Arab racism in the ad. It features a clip of an11 October 2008 exchange at a Minnesota town-hally style campaign event between McCain and a woman in the audience. The exchange can be seen starting 15 seconds into the ad:

WOMAN: “I have heard about him [Obama]. He’s an Arab.

MCCAIN: “No ma’am, no ma’am, he’s a decent family man, citizen, whom I just happen to have disagreements with.”

If the bigotry contained in the exchange is not obvious, try replacing the word “Arab” with “Jew” and then imagine what the response would have been to how McCain handled it.

Few speak out

The exchange caused outrage among Arab Americans during the 2008 campaign, but very few other public figures, especially not Obama, spoke up against this kind of racism – which also routinely conflates Arabs and Muslims.

One of the few who did was former Bush administration Secretary of State Colin Powell who told NBC’s Meet The Press on 19 October 2008:

I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, “Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.” Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian.  He’s always been a Christian.  But the really right answer is, what if he is?  Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, “He’s a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.” This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

Powell, a former general who is poorly remembered by many Arabs for his role in the first Gulf War and the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, recalled that Muslims had died serving in US wars and he had been moved by a picture he saw in a magazine:

of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave.  And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards – Purple Heart, Bronze Star – showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then,at the very top of the headstone, it didn’t have a Christian cross, it didn’t have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American.

Of course many people might reject the notion that Muslim Americans and Arab Americans should only be honored and included to the extent that they participate in or endorse American militarism.

But what was remarkable in 2008, and is remarkable now is that it took a senior Bush administration official to say what few others were prepared to say. And even worse, the Obama campaign apparently seeks to benefit from this very same racism now.

Read the rest…

Peter King Plans To Keep Probing For Muslim ‘Radicalization’ In 2012

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2012 by loonwatch

Good old IRA terror supporting congressman Peter King:

Peter King Plans To Keep Probing For Muslim ‘Radicalization’ In 2012

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee signaled Thursday he intends to keep investigating the American Muslim community despite a report this week that showed the number of Muslim extremists arrested for terrorism is on the wane.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), said he would resume his controversial hearings on radicalization among Muslim-Americans this year despite critics who say the focus on one ethnic group fuels bigotry and paranoia.

The chairman also said the committee would hold hearings on Islamist money coming into the United States and on “Iran’s intelligence services, proxies such as Hezbollah, and its ally of convenience, al-Qaeda; and the looming Iranian terror threat to the homeland.”

King will also continue his probe of leaks to a Hollywood filmmaker of classified details of the raid to kill Osama bin Laden, as well as about operations at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, saying they “could endanger the lives of our intelligence officers and special operators, their families, and the homeland.”

Previous hearings led by King last year on the same topic awakened a storm of controversy, with critics questioning whether Congress should single out a specific minority group as a possible threat to national security.

King held the controversial hearings, bearing the title “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response.” Opponents such as Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said the hearings dredged up the dark days of McCarthyism and only served to “vilify” a segment of the American population.

Also on the committee’s agenda this year is an investigation of “the possible roles that the deceased al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki and his at-large associates, Daoud Chehazeh and Eyad al-Rababah, might have played in facilitating the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.”

In addition, the committee plans to review security preparations for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and seek obtaining Purple Heart medals for the military victims of the 2009 terror attacks in Little Rock, Ark., and at Fort Hood, Texas.

The committee has scheduled its first hearing of the year on Wednesday, when Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will testify on President Obama’s 2013 budget request, expected Monday.

Iowa Voters Still Believe Obama is a Muslim

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2011 by loonwatch

It looks like Sean Hannity and company are getting wackier by the minute. Here a panel group of caucus voters from Iowa say they believe Obama is an evil Mooslim.

 

Kelley Vlahos: 2012: Exploiting Islamophobia to Win Big

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2010 by loonwatch

2012: Exploiting Islamophobia to Win Big

by Kelley B. Vlahos, November 09, 2010 (antiwar.com)

Why did Renee Ellmers, a Republican candidate for Congress from North Carolina, produce a campaign ad skewering her opponent for not vociferously opposing the Park 51 Islamic center planned for Manhattan near Ground Zero, over 500 miles away?

Because it was good campaign strategy, that’s why. She presumed that the Newt Gingrich-hyper-generated history of the Muslims conquering the city of Cordoba 13 centuries ago, complete with illustrations and the juxtaposition of Ground Zero, would pay off, particularly among the disgruntled southern conservatives in her district, which covers the central and eastern parts of the state. And she was right – this blatant exploitation of their fears certainly didn’t hurt and might very well have helped her beat seven-term incumbent Democrat Rep. Bob Etheridge in one of the many GOP upsets of the midterm elections.

“I think this election will weigh heavily on us for the next couple of years,” lamented James Zogby, director of the Arab American Institute, talking before an audience assembled at The Palestine Center in Washington, D.C on Thursday. Parsing out the election results in the frame of the current backlash, he said Islamophobia has “exploded” on the Arab-American community in the U.S., “to the extent I don’t think I have ever seen before.”

In Florida, for example, Republican ex-Army officer and two-time congressional candidate, Allen West, has been fond of giving speeches that highlight his perceived historical knowledge of Islam as a religion of murder and hate. Pontificating on the Quranat the Hudson Institute this year, West exclaimed, “this is not a perversion, (Terrorists) are doing exactly what this book says.”

In February, West took it up a notch, speaking before the Freedom Defense Initiative, a jihad-hunting fundraising machine headed by Pamela Geller (Atlas Shrugs) and Robert Spencer (Jihad Watch):

“There is no such thing as ‘war on terror,’” he told his audience, “a nation does not go to war against a tactic. A nation goes to war against an ideology… we are against something that is a totalitarian, theocratic, political ideology and it is called Islam.”

Geller did her best to promote West’s candidacy – “Run West Run!” – and Ellmers was also on Geller’s list of “endorsed” candidates. In ordinary political times, respectable Republican candidates would have steered clear away from Geller and Spencer and other such toxic avengers.

Not West, not now. On Tuesday, the Tea Party-backed West beat Democratic incumbent Rep. Ron Klein with 55 percent of the vote.

Meanwhile, just days before the election, right wing blogs started touting what they said was proof that Democratic Rep. Joseph Sestak, running in a tight race for Senate with Republican Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, had attended a 2006 campaign fundraiser hosted for him by the director of CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), an “unindicted terrorist co-conspirator” that is supposedly a front for Hamas, but apparently not so effective to have been charged as such by the U.S. government. Nevertheless, the accusations have been dogging Sestak, a retired Vice Admiral in the U.S. Navy, and in July, blogs like Atlas Shrugs began pushing the issue and circulating this ad by the “Emergency Committee for Israel,”right wing marriage of Washington neoconservatives and evangelical Christians with a lot of money to burn. It launched with the Sestak attack, and was key in making Park 51 a national issue a few weeks later.

Sestak lost last Tuesday to Toomey, 49 to 51 percent.

In Nevada, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid may have beat back a challenge by Tea Party favorite Sharon Angle, but most would agree she forced him to dance to her tune throughout the entire campaign. Example: when challenged in August by Angle to break his silence on the Park 51 project, Reid succumbed to the noxious Tea Party atmosphere and said Park 51 should be “built elsewhere.”

Later, in October, Angle indulged a delusional audience member by agreeing with him that Muslims were slowly taking over the American legal system.

“We’re talking about a militant terrorist situation, which I believe it isn’t a widespread thing, but it is enough that we need to address, and we have been addressing it,” she told the audience.

Off the congressional grid, Republican Josh Mandel, whose campaign produced an attack ad that artfully invoked anti-mosque/Muslim feelings while pumping up Mandel’s “real American” status as a “decorated Marine,” “crushed” incumbent Ohio State Treasurer Kevin Boyce, a Democrat, by 15 points.

Notably, national jihad-watchers weighed in on this statewide race, targeting Mandel’s opponent’s deputy, accusing him of attending an “infamous mosque” and “hanging with Islamic extremists.” After the election, the Cleveland Plain Dealer referred to Mandel as “a rising star in his party.”

And of course, there was the successful state ballot initiative in super red Oklahoma, touted by Gingrich and others as the first shot across the bow at the coming Muslim invasion. The “Save our State” amendment will modify the state constitution to ban Sharia law. Comedian Stephen Colbert, while noting that there are only 15,000 Muslims in Oklahoma today, had the best take yet: “Just because something doesn’t exist doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ban it. That’s why I have long fought for ballot measures to ban cat pilots, baby curling, and man-futon marriage.” (video here).

Looking at the smoldering post-election landscape and the long presidential campaign trail ahead, it’s clear that Islamophobia as a political tool is here to stay –- wielded by Republicans who use it to excite and galvanize the right wing, embarrass their opponents and sow the seeds of fear and paranoia in everyone else. And it’s so damn effective!

Zogby says President Bush may have “kept a lid on” the worst of the backlash after 9/11, however selfishly, by promoting the meme that his military invasions were not a “war on Muslims.” But the election of Barack Obama and the accompanying economic crisis unleashed the vitriol simmering under the surface, stirred by what Zogby called the expanding “cottage industry of terrorism experts” like Geller, Spencer, Daniel Pipes,Clifford May and Frank Gaffney. They inhabit largely Republican think tanks like theCenter for Security Policy, the American Enterprise Institute and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, which as a monolith of anti-Muslim rhetoric, all provide daily talking points to Republican politicians like Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and up-and-comers like West and Ellmers.

They also inspire and conspire with evangelical leaders like Pat Robertson and Franklin Graham (son of the Rev. Billy Graham), who felt emboldened enough to call Islam “wicked” and “evil” during a televised town meeting-style forum last April. Why not, when he knows that nearly half the electorate, or those identifying as Republican or ‘leaning Republican,’ likely agree with him on some level.

According to poll results announced by the Arab American Institute on Nov. 1, 66 percent of Republican voters now hold an unfavorable view of Arabs; 85 percent hold an unfavorable view of Muslims. Compare that to 28 percent who hold a favorable view of Arabs, and 12 percent who hold a favorable view of Muslims.

From Zogby:

“The GOP has become captive of several groups that now dominate the party’s base and have transformed its thinking. The ‘religious right’ and its ‘end of days’ preachers like Pat Robertson, William Hagee and Gary Bauer, presently constitute almost 40% of Republican voters. This group’s emphasis on the divinely ordained battle between the forces of ‘good’ (i.e. the Christian West and Israel) and the forces of ‘evil’ (Islam and the Arabs) has logically given rise to anti-Muslim prejudice.

“Then there are the Christian right’s ideological cousins, the neo-conservatives, who share an identical Manichean and apocalyptic world view, though with a secular twist. And into the mix must be thrown Islamophobic right-wing radio and TV commentators like [Bill] O’Reilly, [Glenn] Beck, [Rush] Limbaugh, [Michael] Savage and company, who daily spew their poison across the airwaves.

“The combination produces a lethal brew that is dangerous not only for the intolerance it has created, but the sense of certitude and self-righteousness it projects.”

The incoming Republican chairs to the foreign policy/security/intelligence committees and shifts in the party leadership in the House are “really problematic,” said Zogby. He pointed out several members who are quite known for promoting interventionist, anti-Arab/Muslim policy prescriptions and are expected to rise in the ranks next year, including Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Foreign Affairs), Eric Cantor (Majority Leader), Dan Burton (Foreign Affairs-Middle East), Peter King (Homeland Security), Lamar Smith (Judiciary) and Steve King (Judiciary-immigration).

“You have people who have a decidedly anti-Arab, anti-Islam mindset … it’s born out of the same ideological fervor of the last (Bush) administration,” said Zogby. As for the broader problem of Islamophobia and the Republican wave of influence in Washington politics, he said, “I think it will have an impact on the President and it will make the climate very difficult.”

You bet. Especially with the presidential campaign right around the corner. In fact, I’ve argued that it is already here. Watch the Islamophobia that poisoned the well in the midterms metastasize like a vulgar cancer for what already promises to be a Republican/Tea Party crusade to throw Obama – a man who upwards of 46 percent of Republicans believe is a secret Muslim – out of the White House for good.

Though the so-called Tea Party movement was supposedly born out of a backlash to the President’s “socialist” economic policies in times of financial crisis, it has done nothing to dissuade its adherents from scapegoating immigrants and Muslims for the country’s problems. Zogby tells Antiwar.com that “if a popular (GOP) leader criticizes this bigotry it could have an impact.” I am not so optimistic. As Zogby said himself, “once the genie is out of the bottle, it’s hard to get it back in.” And this is one hell of a vengeful Jinn.