Anti-Muslim Bigotry: The New Flavor of the GOP

Politico’s Ben Smith has been collecting statements from possible Republican presidential candidates about the Park51 project (please stop calling it the “Ground Zero Mosque,” people — it’s a deliberately misleading phrase coined by bigots), and it’s a disturbing snapshot of the current state of the GOP.

George W. Bush had many flaws, but he did one thing very right: following the 9/11 attacks he resisted demonizing Muslims and instead called for tolerance. Bush consistently, unequivocally rejected the idea that the US was in a religious war with Islam itself, even though it would have been tremendously advantageous politically for him to encourage that idea in the right wing base.

But now, the governor is off the populist motor, and the current crop of GOP leaders, rather than standing up for the Constitution and American values, are all jockeying to exploit the raging prejudice.

2012ers on the mosque.

Palin (7/18): “Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. .”

Gingrich (7/21): “There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.”

Pawlenty (8/6): “I think it’s inappropriate… From a patriotic standpoint, it’s hallowed ground, it’s sacred ground, and we should respect that. We shouldn’t have images or activities that degrade or disrespect that in any way.”

Huckabee (8/4): Even if the Muslims have the right to build it, don’t they do more to serve the public interest by exercising the responsible judgement to not build it, given that it’s really offensive to most New Yorkers and Americans? Or is it just that we can offend Americans and Christians, but not foreigners and Muslims?”

Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom (today): “Governor Romney opposes the construction of the mosque at Ground Zero. The wishes of the families of the deceased and the potential for extremists to use the mosque for global recruiting and propaganda compel rejection of this site.”

In another post, Ben Smith notes that Tim Pawlenty, who suggested the Park51 project is unpatriotic, is refusing to moderate his position even after coming under heavy criticism. Pawlenty and his fellow Republican front runners see bigotry and demagoguery as a winning tactic.

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