Government shutdown backlash: Anti-Muslim, tea party rhetoric must end

Oct 29, 2013, 5:05 am          

Government shutdown backlash: Anti-Muslim, tea party rhetoric must end


  • By Dawud Walid


There were a number of talking points that I found vulgar during the recent government shutdown. They ranged from essential government employees working for two weeks without getting paid on time to ad hominem attacks against President Obama.

One form of rhetorical warfare used against the president was a signature tea party tactic: Islamophobia.

Though President Obama is a Christian, he has consistently been subjected to the Muslim smear. What is most disturbing is that a faith followed by millions of Americans can be used as a pejorative, yet the political establishment lets it slide.

While criticizing the Affordable Care Act, tea party favorite Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minnesota, also accused the president of funding Al-Qaeda. She then criticized building new mosques in America. Bachmann, of course, has a prolific resume of anti-Muslim fear-mongering. One of her more outrageous claims was that the Obama administration was infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood because Huma Abedin, an American Muslim married to former Congressman Anthony Weiner, served as an aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Bachmann’s rhetoric has even made her a darling of the Egyptian coup regime, which has used her talking points against our president.

Senator Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin also wallowed in the anti-Muslim mud during the government shutdown.

Perhaps the most outrageous spectacle was at the “Million Vets March on the Memorials,” in which Cruz and Palin were also speakers. Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch, an ultra-conservative political advocacy group, said at the event that America is “ruled by a president who bows down to Allah” and that the president should “put the Koran down.”

I understand that GOP politicians and activists have legitimate grievances pertaining to President Obama’s economic policies. However, there is a sizeable contingent within the tea party that displays blatant racism towards the president – from carrying Confederate flags outside of the White House to anti-Muslim rhetoric parading as anti-black racism.

The moderate wing of the Republican Party must take back control of its message if it wishes to get the support of minority communities. It can ill afford to be silent before blatant Islamophobia and exhibited by prominent members of its own party. America is becoming a more diverse nation. If the GOP does not silence its internal voices of bigotry, it will be relegated to a party of the past.


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