With the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the Republican Party went into a tailspin of dismay.
For almost 50 years, Republicans had conjured up The Red Bogeyman to scare voters into sending them to Congress and the White House.
But now that the “workers’ paradise” had disappeared, Americans seemed to lose interest in the Communist Menace.
True, the People’s Republic of China remained, and its increasing economic clout would challenge the United States well into the 21st century. But Americans didn’t seem to fear the Red Chinese as they had the Red Russians.
What was the Republican Party to do to lure voters?
On September 11, 2001, the answer arrived–in two highjacked jetliners that crashed into the World Trade Center in New York and one that struck the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Exit The Red Bogeyman. Enter The Maniacal Muslim.
- Mike Huckabee - “If the purpose of a church is to push forward the gospel of Jesus Christ, and then you have a Muslim group that says that Jesus Christ and all the people that follow him are a bunch of infidels who should be essentially obliterated, I have a hard time understanding that.”
- Herman Cain - ”I would not” appoint a Muslim in his administration.
- Newt Gingrich - “I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they [his grandchildren] are my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists. …”
- Rick Santorum - On supporting the racial profiling of Muslims: “Obviously, Muslims would be someone you look at, absolutely.”
- Mitt Romney - “Based on the numbers of American Muslims in our population, I cannot see that a Cabinet position [for a Muslim] would be justified.”
And on July 13, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) sent letters to the Inspectors General of the Departments of
- Justice; and
- Homeland Security.
“The purpose of these letters,” wrote Bachmann, was to “request a multi-department investigation into potential Muslim Brotherhood infiltration into the United States Government.”
Bachmann further asserted in her letter to the State Department that Huma Abedin, deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
And the evidence for this?
The Center for Security Policy’s claim that Abedin’s father (who died when she was a teenager), mother and brother are “connected” to the organization.
And what is the Center of Security Policy? A private organization subsidized by donors to neo-conservative causes.
In a separate letter, Bachmann demanded to know how Abedin received her security clearance.
Among the co-signers of Bachmann’s letter to the Inspectors General were:
- Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, who has said abortion has done more harm to blacks than slavery;
- Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, who called presidential candidate Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, ”uppity”; and
- Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, who claims that terrorist organizations send pregnant women into the U.S. so that their children will be American citizens–who can enter and leave the country at will as they are trained to be terrorists abroad.
When pressed for their evidence of “a vast Muslim conspiracy,” right-wing accusers usually refuse to provide any.
An example of this occurred during an August 13, 2010 interview between Gohmert and CNN’s Anderson Cooper:
COOPER: What research? Can you tell us about the research?
GOHMERT: You are attacking the messenger, Anderson, you are better than this. You used to be good. You used to find that there was a problem and you would go after it.
COOPER: Sir, I am asking you for evidence of something that you said on the floor of the House.
GOHMERT: I did, and you listen, this is a problem. If you would spend as much time looking into the problem as you would have been trying to come after me and belittle me this week –
COOPER: Sir, do you want to offer any evidence? I’m giving you an opportunity to say what research and evidence you have. You’ve offered none, other than yelling.
Nor did Gohmert offer any evidence that evening.
Of course, the ultimate Republican Muslim slander is that President Barack Obama–a longtime Christian–is himself a Muslim.
No doubt Republicans feel totally safe in making these attacks, since Muslims comprise only 1% of the American population.
This has long been a hallmark of right-wing attacks–to go after a minority that cannot effectively defend itself.
Thus, Adolf Hitler attacked the Jews of Germany.
And Republicans have successively attacked blacks, Hispanics and gays–until each group became politically influential enough to defeat Republican candidates.
Today, most right-wing politicians at least grudgingly court all of these groups.
When Muslims become a significant political force in their own right, the Right will court them, too. And then move on to yet another helpless scapegoat to blame for America’s troubles.