Archive for Mitt Romney

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…

Declaring War on ‘Political Islamism’

Posted in Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 6, 2012 by loonwatch
William KristolWilliam Kristol

The neocons have been around for decades, first to mobilize support against Soviet-led communism, and then, in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, to wage a so-called “Global War on Terrorism.”

As the architects of the spectacularly disastrous Iraq War, the necons should have been thoroughly discredited and relegated to the political fringe. Yet it seems these foreign policy hawks have simply retooled their message, founded a new think tank, and are poised to wreak havoc once again.

By Robert Parry

Like George W. Bush, Mitt Romney has responded to his lack of foreign policy experience by surrounding himself with clever neoconservatives who are now looking forward to expanding Bush’s “global war on terror” into what neocon ideologue William Kristol calls a U.S. “war with political Islamism.”

In a Washington Post op-ed on Thursday, Kristol dismissed President Barack Obama’s phased military withdrawal from Afghanistan – and his statement that “this time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end” – as foolish wishful thinking.

“It would be wonderful if Obama’s view of 9/11 and its implications were correct,” Kristol wrote. “But if it’s not going to be true that Afghanistan is where ‘this time of war … will end’ — even if Afghanistan is pacified and we’re no longer fighting there — then the American people should know that.”

What the American people should know, in Kristol’s view, is that a post-Obama administration – presumably headed by Republican Mitt Romney and staffed by neocon hawks – will undertake a grander “war with political Islamism,” a conflict whose full dimensions even “war president” George W. Bush shrank from.

“This isn’t a pleasant reality, and even the Bush administration wasn’t quite ready to confront it,” Kristol wrote. “But President George W. Bush did capture the truth that we are engaged in — and had no choice but to engage in — a bigger war, a ‘global war on terror,’ of which Afghanistan was only one front.

“There are, of course, problems with ‘global war on terror’ as a phrase and an organizing principle. But it does capture what we might call the ‘big’ view of 9/11 and its implications.”

As part of an even “bigger” view of 9/11, Kristol called for engaging in a broader conflict, ranging “from Pakistan in the east to Tunisia in the west, and most visibly now in places such as Iran and Yemen and Somalia.”

In other words, Kristol and the neocons expect a President Romney to let them refocus the United States onto a “war” not simply against al-Qaeda and its affiliates but against nations where “political Islamism” gains power, which could include Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and many other Muslim countries.

One might as well say the United States will be at war with the Muslim world, though Kristol hastily added that this “war with political Islamism” does not always have to involve open warfare.

He wrote: “This doesn’t mean we need to be deploying troops and fighting ground wars all around the globe. [But] unfortunately, the war in which we are engaged won’t end with peace in, or withdrawal from, Afghanistan.”

A Romney Presidency?

Most political analysts say the November elections will turn on the economy with foreign policy a second-tier issue. In addition, many progressives have denounced Obama and his more targeted approach of relying on drone strikes to kill alleged terrorists as unacceptable, with some on the Left vowing not to support his reelection.

But it shouldn’t be missed that a President Romney would reinstall the neocons, including many who worked for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, at the levers of American power. Indeed, Romney’s foreign policy “white paper” was largely drafted by neocons. Even the name, “An American Century,” was an homage to the neocon manifesto of the 1990s, “Project for a New American Century.”

Romney’s foreign policy advisers include:

Cofer Black, a key Bush counterterrorism official; Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security; Eliot Cohen, a neocon intellectual; Paula Dobriansky, a former Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs; Eric Edelman, a national security aide to Vice President Cheney; Michael Hayden, the ex-director of CIA and the National Security Agency who defended Bush’s warrantless spying program; Robert Kagan, a Washington Post columnist; former Navy Secretary John Lehmanand Daniel Senor, spokesman for Bush’s Iraq occupation.

Romney’s foreign policy also would restore George W. Bush’s “with us or against us” approach to the world – except that Romney, like Kristol, advocates even a more confrontational style, essentially a new Cold War against “rogue nations,” a revised “axis of evil.”

“A special problem is posed by the rogue nations of the world: Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba,” Romney’s white paper declares. “Their interests and values are diametrically opposed to our own and they threaten international peace and security in numerous ways, including, as in the case of North Korea and Iran, by seeking nuclear weapons, or by harboring criminal networks, exporting weapons, and sponsoring terrorists. …

“Mitt Romney would work to protect and advance America’s interests by employing all the instruments of national power at the president’s disposal. He will defend our country, defend our allies, and restore American leadership around the world. It is only American power — conceived in the broadest terms — that can provide the foundation of an international system that ensures the security and prosperity of the United States and our friends and allies. …

“A Romney foreign policy will proceed with clarity and resolve. The United States will clearly enunciate its interests and values. Our friends and allies will not have doubts about where we stand and what we will do to safeguard our interests and theirs; neither will our rivals, competitors, and adversaries. …

“The United States will apply the full spectrum of hard and soft power to influence events before they erupt into conflict. In defending America’s national interest in a world of danger, the United States should always retain a powerful military capacity to defend itself and its allies.”

No Apologies

The Romney “white paper” also treats any recognition of past American errors as unacceptable “apologizing” and calls any notion of seeking multilateral consensus on a problem as an admission of weakness.

“A perspective has been gaining currency, including within high councils of the Obama administration, that regards that United States as a power in decline. And not only is the United States regarded as in decline, but that decline is seen as both inexorable and a condition that can and should be managed for the global good rather than reversed.

“Adherents of this view argue that America no longer possesses the resources or the moral authority to play a leadership role in the world. They contend that the United States should not try to lead because we will only succeed in exhausting ourselves and spreading thin our limited resources.

“They counsel America to step aside, allow other powers to rise, and pursue policies that will ‘manage’ the relative change in our national fortunes. They recoil from the idea of American Exceptionalism, the idea that an America founded on the universal principles of human liberty and human dignity has a unique history and a special role to play in world affairs.

“They do not see an international system undergirded by American values of economic and political freedom as necessarily superior to a world system organized by multilateral organizations like the United Nations. Indeed, they see the United Nations as an instrument that can rein in and temper what they regard as the ill-considered overreaching of the United States.

“This view of America in decline, and America as a potentially malign force, has percolated far and wide. It is intimately related to the torrent of criticism, unprecedented for an American president, that Barack Obama has directed at his own country. …

“Among the ‘sins’ for which he has repented in our collective name are American arrogance, dismissiveness, and derision; for dictating solutions, for acting unilaterally, for acting without regard for others; for treating other countries as mere proxies, for unjustly interfering in the internal affairs of other nations, for committing torture, for fueling anti-Islamic sentiments, for dragging our feet in combating global warming, and for selectively promoting democracy.

“The sum total of President Obama’s rhetorical efforts has been a form of unilateral disarmament in the diplomatic and moral sphere. A President who is so troubled by America’s past cannot lead us into the future. … Mitt Romney believes in restoring the sinews of American power.”

Hawks in the Middle East

As for the Middle East, Romney’s team advocates unquestioned support for Israel both regarding its treatment of the Palestinians and toward Iran:

“Israel is the United States’ closest ally in the Middle East and a beacon of democracy and freedom in the region. The tumult in the Middle East has heightened Israel’s security problems. Indeed, this is an especially dangerous moment for the Jewish state. …

“To ensure Israel’s security, Mitt Romney will work closely with Israel to maintain its strategic military edge. … The United States must forcefully resist the emergence of anti-Israel policies in Turkey and Egypt, and work to make clear that their interests are not served by isolating Israel.

“With regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Romney’s policy will differ sharply from President Obama’s. President Obama and his administration have badly misunderstood the dynamics of the region. Instead of fostering stability and security, they have diminished U.S. authority and painted both Israel and ourselves into a corner.

“President Obama for too long has been in the grip of several illusions. One is that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is the central problem in the region. This has been disproved repeatedly by events, most recently and most dramatically by the eruption of the Arab Spring.

“But it nonetheless led the administration to believe that distancing the United States from Israel was a smart move that would earn us credits in the Arab world and somehow bring peace closer. The record proves otherwise. The key to negotiating a lasting peace is an Israel that knows it will be secure. …

“[Under President Romney] the United States will reduce assistance to the Palestinians if they continue to pursue United Nations recognition or form a unity government that includes Hamas, a terrorist group dedicated to Israel’s destruction.

“The United States needs a president who will not be a fair-weather friend of Israel. The United States must work as a country to resist the worldwide campaign to delegitimize Israel. We must fight against that campaign in every forum and label it the anti-Semitic poison that it is. Israel’s existence as a Jewish state is not up for debate.”

Regarding Iran, the Romney “white paper” repeats many of the canards about Iranian intentions that have been debunked even by Israelis, such as the mistranslation of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s statement regarding “wiping Israel off the map.” But Romney’s neocon foreign policy team even suggests using that mistranslation to indict Ahmadinejad for war crimes:

“Romney will also push for greater diplomatic isolation of Iran. The United States should make it plain that it is a disgrace to provide Iran’s Holocaust-denying president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the trappings and respect offered to responsible heads of state. He should not be invited to foreign capitals or feted by foreign leaders.

“Quite the opposite. Given his calls for Israel to be wiped off the map, Ahmadinejad should be indicted for incitement to genocide under Article III of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.”

So, even Americans disappointed in Obama’s foreign policy should recognize what the stakes are in November. They include whether to put hard-line neocons back in charge of U.S. foreign policy and the American military.

[To read more of Robert Parry’s writings, you can now order his last two books, Secrecy & Privilege andNeck Deep, at the discount price of only $16 for both. For details on the special offer, click here.]  

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.

Sheldon Adelson: “All Terrorists are Islamic”

Posted in Loon People, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2012 by loonwatch

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who is the biggest patron of Newt Gingrich's presidential bid, giving a reported $10m to a Gingrich-supporting Super Pac. Photograph: Vincent Yu/AP

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who is the biggest patron of Newt Gingrich’s presidential bid, giving a reported $10m to a Gingrich-supporting Super Pac. Photograph: Vincent Yu/AP

Newt Gingrich’s former, and Mitt Romney’s soon-to-be sugar-daddy, Sheldon Adelson recently commented on terrorism, and how he believes all terrorists are “Islamic” or “Islamist.”

Sheldon Adelson could have saved himself from looking like a complete doofus and unintelligent moron if he read our most popular article: “All Terrorists are Muslims…Except the 94% of Terrorists that Aren’t”

Franklin Graham Unsure of Obama’s Christian Bonafides, Speculates on Obama’s Scary “Muslimness”

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon People, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2012 by loonwatch

Graham still up to his old lies and fearmongering:

Franklin Graham Calls Obama’s Religious Beliefs Into Question

http://www.5min.com/Video/Franklin-Graham-on-Morning-Joe-517277975
Evangelist Franklin Graham called President Barack Obama’s religious views into question on Tuesday, stating that he does not know for sure if Obama is a Christian.

Graham, who is the son of Billy Graham and the CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that Obama “has said he’s a Christian, so I just have to assume that he is.”

“All I know is I’m a sinner, and God has forgiven me of my sins… you have to ask every person,” he said about whether he could say for sure that Obama is indeed of the Christian faith.

However, when asked about GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s religion, Graham gave a much more concrete answer.

“I think so,” Graham said when asked if he believes Santorum is a Christian. “His values are so clear on moral issues. No question about it… I think he’s a man of faith.”

MSNBC’s panelists questioned the reverend’s double standard, but Graham continued to draw distinctions between the candidates on the issue of faith. On Mitt Romney, Graham was again evasive, stating that “most Christians would not recognize Mormonism as part of the Christian faith.”

But Graham was more willing to label Newt Gingrich’s faith. “Newt’s been married several times… but he could make a good candidate,” Graham said. “I think Newt is a Christian. At least he told me he is.”

Later in the segment, Graham also said he could not be sure that Obama was not a Muslim.

“All I know is under Obama, President Obama, the Muslims of the world, he seems to be more concerned about them than the Christians that are being murdered in the Muslim countries,” he said.

He continued, ”Islam sees him as a son of Islam… I can’t say categorically that [Obama is not Muslim] because Islam has gotten a free pass under Obama.”

Graham drew the criticism of the White House last spring when he suggested in an interview with ABC that Obama had not been born in the United States.

During that same interview, Graham also questioned whether Obama’s actions and values matched up with his identification as a Christian.

“Now he has told me that he is a Christian. But the debate comes, what is a Christian?” Graham said of Obama. “For him, going to church means he’s a Christian. For me, the definition of a Christian is whether we have given our life to Christ and are following him in faith and we have trusted him as our lord and savior.”

Watch Graham’s full interview on MSNBC:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Kosher Meals Cost Taxpayers Over Half a Million Dollars: What if These Were Halal Meals?

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on February 1, 2012 by loonwatch

GOP presidential hopeful and rabid Islamophobe Newt Gingrich is slamming Mitt Romney for vetoing a 2003 bill that would allocate an additional $600,000 of taxpayer money to provide poor Jewish nursing home residents with Kosher meals.  Thundered Gingrich:

Romney as Governor eliminated kosher food for retired Jewish senior citizens…He has no understanding of the importance of religious liberty in this country.

I myself don’t have a problem with providing Kosher meals, and I would not have opposed the additional funding like Romney did.  But, this does beg the question: what if this had been about Halal meals instead?

Had that been the case, the situation would have been completely reversed.  In that scenario, had Mitt Romney supported a bill that allocated over half a million dollars of taxpayer money to Halal meals for poor Muslim nursing home residents, what do you think Newt Gingrich and the rest of the right-wing would be saying then?  They would be ruthlessly attacking him for this.

We’d also hear a lot about how Muslims in America and the West in general demand “special rules” and “special treatment”–how they have a “feeling of entitlement.”  We’d hear about how Muslims want “hand-outs” and “leech off” of the rest of us.  We’d hear all the typical racist and bigoted charges that are often levied against non-white minorities.

Whenever a minority asks for cultural or religious accommodation, especially Muslims, they are accused of such things.  What good, white, Judeo-Christian folk sometimes fail to realize is that the system is by default heavily bent in their favor, with “special accommodations” for them already built in.

This reminds me of a conversation I overheard between a Christian and Muslim colleague of mine.  The Christian employee was complaining about how “it was unfair” that the Muslim colleague got to come in late for work on his religious holiday (Eid) and leave a bit early on that same day; she said: “It’s not fair: you guys get our Christmas off but we don’t get your holiday off.”  I couldn’t believe my ears.  She gets a whole two weeks off to go visit her family in another state, whereas he gets half a day off so that he can take his wife and kids out to eat at the local kabob joint.  The Muslim employee wants “special treatment” (if you can call it that) because the system is already so slanted in favor of the dominant, majority group.

I’ve seen a similar occurrence with Friday prayers, with Muslim colleagues racing back and forth during lunch to make it in time.  Meanwhile, Jews get Saturday off and Christians get Sunday off–by default.  At my work, we often have to come in on Saturdays, but observant Jews can get it off by “special request.”  If Muslims made that sort of request, we wouldn’t hear the end of it.

This is a nation of immigrants, and as such, we must be ready to accommodate–within the bounds of reason–various races, religions, and customs.  The only alternative, I suppose, is to adopt the nativist view of right-wingers: “they” must accommodate to “us.”  This view, however, fails to realize that both groups need to bend a little to accommodate the other.

Speaking of Kosher and Halal, one recalls how the Queen of Islamophobia, Pamela Geller, who is herself Jewish, attacks Muslims for how cruel Halal slaughter is, even though it’s virtually the exact same process used by Jews for Kosher.  Had a candidate supported a bill to give half a million dollars to provide Halal food, Geller would be screeching about how this was providing state support for evil Muslim butchery and animal cruelty.  Common sense and rationality are lost with such absurdities.

On that note, I think it would behoove the reader to consider how dramatically different views are when we substitute “Jew” for “Muslim” or the other way around: for example, the standard “you can’t be racist against Muslims, because Muslim is not a race” doesn’t seem right when we say “you can’t be racist against Jews, because Jew is not a race.”  It’s a worthwhile exercise to do any time you read a story about Muslims: just do the substitution and ask yourself if it sounds right.  There’s a reason it doesn’t: all of these anti-Muslim smears were once used against Jews: it’s the same message, just used against a different minority group.

Islamophobes never want to play the substitution game, which is why they cry “tu quoque, tu quoque” whenever anyone uses it.  They must at all costs prevent it from being used because it lays bare their bigotry.

In this particular case, it’s supporting “religious freedom” to use taxpayer money to provide Kosher meals to Jewish residents.  But remember: it would be against freedom and free choice to use taxpayer money to provide Halal meals for Muslims.  When it’s about Kosher, then it’s forcing your religious beliefs onto Jews to not provide Kosher meals, thereby “forcing” them to eat non-Kosher meals; when it’s about Halal, then it’s Muslims forcing their beliefs onto us, by forcing us to provide them with special meals.

As George Orwell said: ”Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.”

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Colbert Report: ThreatDown – Barack Obama, Fundamentalist Flippers & Coked Up Diplomats

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2012 by loonwatch

Colbert believes that under the sea, Bin Laden might be finding young impressionable dolphins who are willing to wage Jihad.

Starts at 2:23-4:14

Colbert Report: ThreatDown – Barack Obama, Fundamentalist Flippers & Coked Up Diplomats

http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/407251/january-30-2012/threatdown—barack-obama–fundamentalist-flippers—coked-up-diplomats
Barack Obama plays the same old dirty political trick of being irresistibly appealing, the Navy trains dolphins to sweep for mines, and the U.N. receives 35 pounds of cocaine. (06:11)

Georgia State Rep: ‘I’m Afraid’ Of Romney’s Mormon Faith, But ‘It’s Better Than A Muslim’

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on January 7, 2012 by loonwatch
State Rep. Judy Manning (R-GA)
State Rep. Judy Manning (R-GA)

Georgia State Rep: ‘I’m Afraid’ Of Romney’s Mormon Faith, But ‘It’s Better Than A Muslim’

By Zaid Jilani

One obstacle that Mitt Romney may face as he asks for the support of Republican primary voters is bigotry against the Mormon faith.

Marietta Daily Journal story published yesterday demonstrates the bigotry that Romney may have to overcome. The Journal quotes Republican state Rep. Judy Manning saying that she’s scared of Romney’s Mormon faith. But at least he’s “better than a Muslim”:

“I think Mitt Romney is a nice man, but I’m afraid of his Mormon faith,” Manning said. “It’s better than a Muslim.Of course, every time you look at the TV these days you find an ad on there telling us how normal they are. So why do they have to put ads on the TV just to convince us that they’re normal if they are normal? … If the Mormon faith adhered to a past philosophy of pluralism, multi-wives, that doesn’t follow the Christian faith of one man and one woman, and that concerns me.”

Manning’s criticism of Romney’s faith and her attack on Islam as an even more inferior religion — in addition to other comments she has made against LGBT rights — demonstrates an important point. Progressives and others who oppose bigotry and preach tolerance must denounce discrimination of every kind, not just because all discrimination is wrong, but because validating discrimination against one group can lead to increased discrimination against other groups in the future. (HT: @GregFrayser)

In Islamic Law, Gingrich Sees a Mortal Threat to U.S.

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2011 by loonwatch
For Newt Gingrich, in New Hampshire on Wednesday, Shariah is a concern akin to terrorism.
For Newt Gingrich, in New Hampshire on Wednesday, Shariah is a concern akin to terrorism.

Discuss.

In Islamic Law, Gingrich Sees a Mortal Threat to U.S.

By 

WASHINGTON — Long before he announced his presidential run this year, Newt Gingrich had become the most prominent American politician to embrace an alarming premise: that Shariah, or Islamic law, poses a threat to the United States as grave as or graver than terrorism.

“I believe Shariah is a mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it,” Mr. Gingrich said in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute in Washington in July 2010 devoted to what he suggested were the hidden dangers of Islamic radicalism. “I think it’s that straightforward and that real.”

Mr. Gingrich was articulating a much-disputed thesis in vogue with some conservative thinkers but roundly rejected by many American Muslims, scholars of Islam and counterterrorism officials. The anti-Shariah theorists say that just as communism posed an ideological and moral threat to America separate from the menace of Soviet missiles, so today radical Islamists are working to impose Shariah in a “stealth jihad” that is no less dangerous than the violent jihad of Al Qaeda.

“Stealth jihadis use political, cultural, societal, religious, intellectual tools; violent jihadis use violence,” Mr. Gingrich said in the speech. “But in fact they’re both engaged in jihad, and they’re both seeking to impose the same end state, which is to replace Western civilization with a radical imposition of Shariah.”

Echoing some Republicans in Congress, Mr. Gingrich blasted the Obama administration’s policy of declining to label terrorism carried out in the name of militant Islam as “Islamic” or “jihadist.” Administration officials say such labels can imply religious justification for a distortion of doctrine that most Muslims abhor, thus smearing an entire faith.

But to Mr. Gingrich, whose campaign did not respond to a request for comment, the administration’s language smacks of the willful blindness of an earlier era. “The left’s refusal to tell the truth about the Islamist threat is a natural parallel to the 70-year pattern of left-wing intellectuals refusing to tell the truth about communism and the Soviet Union,” Mr. Gingrich said.

Shariah (literally, “the path to the watering place”) is a central concept in Islam. It is God’s law, as derived from the Koran and the example of the Prophet Muhammad, and has far wider application than secular law. It is popularly associated with its most extreme application in societies like Afghanistan under the Taliban, including chopping off a hand as punishment for thievery.

But it has always been subject to interpretation by religious authorities, so its application has varied over time and geography, said Bernard G. Weiss, professor emeritus at the University of Utah and an authority on Islamic law.

“In the hands of terrorists, Shariah can be developed into a highly threatening, militant notion,” Professor Weiss said. “In the hands of a contemporary Muslim thinker writing in the journal Religion and Law, Shariah becomes an essentially pacifist notion.”

The Arab Spring has set off a lively political and scholarly debate over the growing power of Islamists in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. But those are all overwhelmingly Muslim countries. The idea that Shariah poses a danger in the United States, where the census pegs Muslims as less than 1 percent of the population, strikes many scholars as quixotic.

Even within that 1 percent, most American Muslims have no enthusiasm for replacing federal and state law with Shariah, as some conservatives fear, let alone adopting such ancient prescriptions as stoning for adulterers, said Akbar Ahmed, chairman of Islamic studies at American University in Washington, who spent a year traveling the United States and interviewing Muslims for his 2010 book “Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam.”

The notion of a threat from Shariah to the United States “takes your breath away, it’s so absurd,” Dr. Ahmed said. He sees political demagoguery in the anti-Shariah campaign, which fueled rallies against mosques in the last two years from Manhattan to Tennessee.

All of the Republican presidential candidates have been asked about the supposed threat from Shariah. Representative Michele Bachmann told the conservative Family Research Council in a November speech that Shariah “must be resisted across the United States,” endorsing moves by several states to prohibit judges from considering Shariah.

Mitt Romney said in a June debate: “We’re not going to have Shariah law applied in U.S. courts. That’s never going to happen.” He immediately added, “People of all faiths are welcome in this country.”

For Mr. Gingrich, concern about Shariah has been a far more prominent theme. He and his wife, Callista, produced and narrated a 2010 film on the threat from radical Islam, “America at Risk,” that discusses the danger of both terrorism and Shariah against a lurid background of terrorist bombings, bloody victims, wailing sirens and chanting Muslim crowds. (Mrs. Gingrich does say, at one point, “This is not a battle with the majority of Muslims, who are peaceful.”)

One Muslim activist who is shown in the film calling for “separation of mosque and state,” Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, said he appreciated Mr. Gingrich’s support in an ideological contest with large Muslim advocacy groups in the United States that he believes have an Islamist slant.

But Dr. Jasser, a Phoenix physician and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, said non-Muslims like Mr. Gingrich were not the most effective advocates for what he believes is really a debate within Islam.

“Unfortunately, as long as a non-Muslim opens the discussion, whether it’s Gingrich or someone else, it’s going to hit a brick wall in the Muslim community,” Dr. Jasser said.

Mohamed Elibiary, a Muslim and an adviser to law enforcement agencies in Texas and to the Department of Homeland Security, is a conservative Republican who said he once idolized Mr. Gingrich. He said he no longer did.

He said the anti-Shariah campaign in the United States was “propaganda for jihadists,” offering fuel for the idea of a titanic clash of faiths. Those who truly want to protect American values should talk to Muslims, he said, not demonize them.

“There are plenty of American Muslim patriots who will defend American freedoms,” Mr. Elibiary said. “But you can’t be anti-Islam and find those allies.”

Mitt Romney Appoints anti-Muslim Militiaman Walid Phares

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2011 by loonwatch

There is a troubling track record on the Right-Wing of nominating hatemongerers, bigots and now potential associates to war crimes to key positions in their cabinets. Is it willful ignorance, stupidity, or purposeful?

We reported last on Walid Phares when Rep. Peter King announced he was going to call Phares to testify at his “Muslim American radicalization hearings.” King eventually walked back that announcement due to pressure. For God sake, Walid Phares joined an organization whose slogan was, “Kill a Palestinian and you Shall Enter Paradise.”

Mitt’s Muslim Problem

(Daily Beast)

After a prominent Baptist minister proclaimed last week that Mormonism is a non-Christian “cult” that would ideally disqualify adherents from the White House, Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney enjoyed a full-throated defense from people all over the political spectrum who considered the pastor’s remarks an ugly example of religious bigotry. But Romney, a practicing Mormon, may soon find himself facing allegations of intolerance from another religious minority: American Muslims.

The Daily Beast has learned that the nation’s leading Muslim advocacy group sent a letter to the Romney campaign late Tuesday calling for the ouster of the candidate’s recently appointed foreign-policy adviser, Walid Phares. In the letter, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) refers to Phares as “an associate to war crimes” and a “conspiracy theorist,” citing ties to a violent anti-Muslim militia. Scholars and leaders throughout the Islamic community are adding pressure on Romney to drop the adviser immediately. (The Romney campaign and Phares did not immediately respond to requests for comment.)

The controversy comes at an awkward time for the campaign. Hours before CAIR’s letter was sent, Romney called on primary rival Perry to “repudiate” the anti-Mormon remarks made by the Rev. Robert Jeffress, who has endorsed the Texas governor, and touted the importance of tolerant discourse. “I just don’t believe that kind of divisiveness based on religion has a place in this country,” Romney said at a New Hampshire press conference.

Yet Phares is a divisive figure in the minds of some leading U.S. Muslims. To admirers, Phares is a well-regarded scholar who has testified before the Defense and State departments, and has worked as a terrorism expert for professional news outlets such as NBC and, most recently, Fox News.

But to critics, Phares has long been a lightning rod for charges of Islamophobia and outright aggression toward Muslims. According to CAIR, Phares, who was born in Lebanon, worked as an official in the Lebanese Forces, a Christian militia that reportedly took part in “the 1982 massacre of civilian men, women, and children at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.” In 1984, another Lebanese militia with which Phares was allegedly associated rounded up a group of men for questioning and then slaughtered them with guns and grenades, according to a news report. (There is no indication that Phares was directly involved in the violence; his roles in the organizations are reported to have been administrative.)

When he emigrated to the United States in the 1990s, Phares positioned himself as an expert on Islam and Middle East relations, allying himself with conservative think tanks and appearing frequently on television. Throughout his career as a pundit, he has warned that some Muslims are plotting a secret takeover of American institutions with the end goal of imposing Sharia.

This history of inflammatory rhetoric has drawn scorn from many corners of the American Muslim community, and CAIR’s concerns were echoed by a chorus of Islamic scholars reached by The Daily Beast.

“[Phares] is hostile to Muslims and Romney has adopted an expert who is going to alienate him from a good section of the voting public,” said Ebrahim Moosa, a Duke professor of Islamic studies.

“Frankly, it is a pathetic reflection on Governor Romney to have surrounded himself with such a person for advice on the Middle East and Islam,” said Omid Safi, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill. “It would be akin to turning to [former KKK member] David Duke to get advice on race relations.”

Correy Saylor, legislative director for CAIR, is willing to give Romney the benefit of the doubt and assume he was largely unaware of Phares’s past. Saylor credits Romney with showing an increased sensitivity to Islam over the years.

During his 2008 presidential candidacy, Romney reportedly told supporters in a private meeting that he would not appoint a Muslim to his cabinet. But he later walked back that comment, and in this election cycle he has occasionally found himself defending Islam against his opponents’ intolerance. Saylor cited an early primary debate during which Herman Cain hypothesized that appointing a Muslim to his cabinet could open the door to the implementation of Sharia in the U.S. Romney dismissed the paranoid theory, insisting that “people of all faiths are welcome in this country.”

“He’s getting better,” Saylor concluded. “But this appointment is a step in the wrong direction.”

Former Mitt Romney Staffer Revealed As Key Player Behind Nationwide Islamophobia Push

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2011 by loonwatch

Former Mitt Romney Staffer Revealed As Key Player Behind Nationwide Islamophobia Push

(ThinkProgress)

Last week, the Center for American Progress released a 130-page report detailing who’s behind the rise of Islamophobia in the United States. “Fear Inc.: The Roots Of the Islamophobia Network In America” shows how a small handful of groups, including ACT! for America and Stop Islamization of America, have been the driving force behind the the rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States.

A ThinkProgress investigation found that a top employee at ACT! for America, Chris Slick, was a key staffer in South Carolina for Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign and continues to be a “rabid Romney volunteer” this year. Slick, who currently works as ACT!’s director of online operations, served as a South Carolina field manager for Romney’s 2008 presidential bid. During Slick’s tenure on Romney’s staff, the former Massachusetts governor declared that he would not appoint a Muslim in his cabinet if he were elected president. (GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain made a similar pledge this cycle, to much criticism.) After Romney’s bid failed, Slick moved on to spread Islamophobia at ACT! for America, though he maintains contact with Romney’s 2012 presidential bid as a volunteer.

At ACT!, Slick has worked to distribute model anti-Sharia legislation to state lawmakers around the country. In South Carolina, for instance, state Sen. Mike Fair (R) told ThinkProgress he had coordinated with Slick as he introduced legislation to ban Sharia in the Palmetto State. After working behind the scenes with Fair to bring up the anti-Sharia legislation, Slick then lobbied ACT! supporters to inundate state Sen. Larry Martin (R) with phone calls in an attempt to persuade Martin to lift his hold on the bill.

Slick’s Islamophobia isn’t just confined to pushing anti-Sharia legislation. His Twitter feed includes frequent anti-Muslim and anti-Arab missives. On April 25, Slick wrote, “Press 3 for Arabic. Yep, we are in trouble now folks…”. The week before, Slick accused Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) of having “ties to terrorism” for once representing the Arab television network Al Jazeera. Back in February, Slick retweeted a post from Logan’s Warning asking “Why would any woman be supportive of Islam?” And earlier that month, Slick wrote, “Dear Egyptian protesters [sic] aka the Muslim Brotherhood, please do not damage the pyramids, we will not rebuild them again. Signed, The Jews.”

Slick also sent out an ominous tweet on May 10: “I need a Wikipedia expert. Need to hire one to clean some stuff up. Do you or someone you know work well with Wiki? Let me know ASAP.” It’s unclear precisely whose or what Wikipedia page he wanted to alter.

To learn more about how the Islamophobia network operates, check out this video ThinkProgress produced: