The Right’s New Hate Campaign

Of course, it’s not all that new. We’ve been watching this fester over the last decade. But the venom of the growing anti-Muslim hate campaign — and the willingness to disregard basic religious and civil liberties for American Muslims — should be a shocking development in a nation that has championed religious freedom for more than two centuries. Consider, for example, recent comments by Tennessee’s lieutenant governor, Ron Ramsey:

At a recent event in Hamilton County, Ramsey was asked by a man in the audience about the “threat that’s invading our country from the Muslims.” Ramsey proclaimed his support for the Constitution and the whole “Congress shall make no law” thing when it comes to religion. But he also said that Islam, arguably, is less a faith than it is a “cult.”

“Now, you could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, way of life, cult whatever you want to call it,” Ramsey said. “Now certainly we do protect our religions, but at the same time this is something we are going to have to face.”

This kind of religious bigotry has been growing in prominence in Texas as well. Shortly after the 2006 elections, David Barton of the far-right group WallBuilders wrote that Americans were justifiably concerned that Minnesotans had elected a Muslim, Keith Ellison, to Congress:

“After all, America and Americans are currently the target of attacks by members of the same Islamic faith that Ellison professes; and while Ellison may not hold the same specific beliefs as America’s enemies, he nevertheless holds the same religion. . . . Ellison may not have the same beliefs as the Muslims who openly decry and even attack America; nevertheless, their behavior reflects on him. It is therefore understandable that citizens outside his district are highly concerned.”

So Americans should judge Ellison based on the fact that he shares the same religion as some people who are violent extremists? Would Barton agree, then, that we should judge him based on his past associations with extremist neo-Nazi groups that promote Christian and white supremacy?

And don’t forget that earlier this spring, Barton’s organization Wallbuilders filed a brief in a federal appeals court case claiming that the Constitution’s protections for religious freedom do NOT extend to all faiths. (In Barton’s brief, he argued that the Founders intended only to protect freedom for monotheistic  religions such as Christianity, but offered no such protections to followers of polytheistic religions — or atheists).

Barton’s anti-Muslim prejudice is clearly shared by the Rev. Peter Marshall. You might recall that Barton and Marshall both served as so-called “experts” advising the Texas State Board of Education on the revision of social studies curriculum standards last year. Marshall has written plenty about his problems with Islam, including in an online commentary just last week, in which he argues that Islam is Satanic:

“When it comes to the reality of Islam in America, can a good or devout Muslim be a good American?  No. The answer, my friends, is a flat ‘no!’ The only Muslim that could possibly be a good American is a Muslim that is non-practicing, or one that is in the process of repudiating Islam. Why? Because Islam is completely incompatible with either Christianity or patriotic Americanism.”

Marshall might live in Massachusetts, but we have our own home-grown anti-Muslim extremists who portray themselves as men of God. Pastor Rick Scarborough of the Texas-based extremist group Vision America has been particularly virulent in his attacks on Islam. In May, for example, he attacked a proposed Islamic community center in New York City blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks, comparing its Muslim supporters to skinheads and Nazis.

And a tea party group in West Texas is promoting an anti-Muslim fear-mongering campaign by falsely claiming that a proposed charter school has ties to Islamic extremism. Then in June we saw the Texas Republican Party pass a platform with a plank opposing the imposition of Islamic Sharia law in the state. Seriously.

The Handbook of Texas says that Texas has the eighth-largest population of Muslims in the United States. Are they to be the new victims of a right-wing hate campaign? It already seems to be happening.

7 thoughts on “The Right’s New Hate Campaign

  1. Well, I have mixed feelings about this.

    Constitutionally, American Muslims have just as much religious liberty as any other American citizen or person who falls under the protection of our laws. If I had an Islamic neighbor, I would be nice to him. I would probably show proper deference, like not sending them leftover ham sandwiches after Christimas Day. However…

    Right, wrong, good, or bad, I am still angry about September 11, 2001. I think most Americans still are, and it will take a very long time to move past it. I still remember the adherents of Islam from Indonesia to Somalia, to wherever who danced in the streets while our people were jumping out of buildings because they could no longer stand the heat from the fires. A very close Hindu friend of mine, who grew up alongside Moslems in India, once told me that he thinks Islam is a religion that is heavily dependent on anger, extreme intolerance, outrage, and violence. This was his impression from growing up, and he is as liberal as the day is long. Sad to say, even as an anthropologist who is supposed to keep level-headed about this sort of thing, I have seen very little in my time that runs contrary to his opinion. If I were a Muslim in the United States, I would keep a very low profile.

  2. Well, when I was in an auto accident and in the hospital on my back for 4 weeks with morphine dripping into me my Muslim neighbor was the only person on my street to bring my wife anything; all the so-called Christians did nothing. I’m remained of the parable of the Good Samaritan.

    We have to remember that Germany was a good Protestant country and Italy a good Catholic country in WWII. Yet, we did not condemn all Catholics and Protestants because of that. Remember far more American lives were lost in Europe in WWII than in all the terrorists’ attacks since.

  3. Charles, Islam is a religion that is still in many ways centered in politically tumultuous parts of the globe. A lot of its won extremism stems not from religious but ethnic, political, and other sociological sources. The brand of hyperconservative Islam seen throughout the world today is of recent vintage, like America’s own homegrown fundamentalist nonsense. India is one of those regions that still suffers a religious conflict between Hindus and Muslims.

    Which is not to say that Islam as a religion is not without the need to rein in extremist factions, but most Muslims, especially those in the United States, are far, far, far different in terms of socio-political orientation than those in conflict-heavy zones like India/Pakistan or ultraconservative strongholds like Saudi Arabia. It would be like judging all Christians by how the religious right in Texas acts.

  4. you people are SO incredibly BLIND! and COMPLETELY hypocritical.

    When Muslims take over America guess who will be targeted FIRST? – TFN!

    Please point out a muslim nation that you would want to be living in? – there is not one.

    America freedoms come from the God of the Holy Bible, not the made up god of the Koran. –

    We must wake up!

    P.S. Muslims (are called to) kill homosexuals, Christians (are called to) love them.

  5. Truth, what you wrote may be truth to YOU. As for homosexuals, actually, you are wrong. Many Christians (not all but MANY) believe THEY are called to kill homosexuals. I doubt you’ll take my word for it so check it out for yourself.

    Once again Barton shows his ignorance. (He seems to be proud to do so). He believes Islam is not a monotheistic religion. Hahahahahah. In fact, Islam with its belief in a UNIFIED God is MORE monotheistic than Christianity with its divided triune God.

    And once again, it’s not the fact that idiots like Barton exist that scares the crap out of me; it’s the fact that idiots like Barton have such a large and growing following that scares the crap out of me.

    Charles, you’re still angry about September 11? I am too. However, as a Jew, would I be correct to still be mad at Christian Europe for the Holocaust, the pogroms, the expulsions, the Inquisition, the Crusades, etc etc etc? I think you get my point. So if you’re saying September 11 is representative of Islam, then the list of atrocities I’ve named should likewise be representative of Christianity. I’d hate to think they are but from what I’ve seen from fundamentalist evangelical Christians lately, I wouldn’t be surprised if their fanaticism to their faith returns us to updated versions of the same atrocities.

  6. Well, on occasion in the checkout line a Kroger, when a Muslim lady is in front of me, I have been sorely tempted to grab her cheddar (not the cheese—I know how it’s really spelled) and jerk it off just for fun. However, good sense always gets the better of me. Of course, I sometimes feel grateful that some of these Islamic women are so well draped because they are—quite frankly—homely looking. I can see why some husbands like the drapes.

    But, speaking of our own homegrown Islamic tendencies right here in the good old USA, please note that a national Christian womenfolk’s organization has challenged one of the Religious Right’s parachurch organizations to a gunfight at High Noon in Dodge City. This is part of my longstanding prediction that the mainline Christian churches and their leaders will be going after the Religious Right at every turn from now on out. Get ready to reap the whirlwind boys—cause momma ain’t happy—and when momma ain’t happy—ain’t nobody happy. Check out the second post down from the top at this blog: