Monday, December 14, 2015

Will the GOP Ever Stop Peddling Hate?

If one has followed the GOP for over the last 15 to 20 years, one discernible trend  of the GOP is its need to peddle hatred against others to satisfy its increasingly foul party base.  Hatred of blacks, hatred of gays, hatred of immigrants and now, hatred of Muslims.  There always has to be some demographic that is held up as "other" that is claimed to be posing a threat to America and the white Christian theocracy that the Christofascist portion of the base wants to force on the entire nation.  The GOP is now best described by who and what it is against, yet offers few actual positive alternatives of how to move the nation forward.  A column in Salon looks at the way in which peddling hatred has become the GOP norm.  Here are excerpts:

It was bound to happen, what with calls for special Muslim IDs, mosque closures, and unfounded claims that Arabs were dancing in New Jersey streets following 9/11. On Monday afternoon, the GOP’s bombastic front-runner, Donald Trump, decided that the only thing more rigid than his peroxide mane would be the central plank of his campaign’s 2016 platform: Islamophobia.

Yet as worrying as his proclamation is (let there be no question that he awakened the ghost of Mussolini), it’s a fool’s errand to believe that this latest bout of xenophobic rhetoric is only about Trump.  It’s not.  Rather, it speaks volumes about the Republican Party, its primary voters, and the message that sizable swaths of that group crave.

Take my home state of North Carolina, for example. A survey conducted by the Public Polling Institute in late September found that 40 percent of Republican voters believe that the practice of Islam should be illegal. Seventy-two percent of the GOP in that state believe, like Trump’s closest rival, Ben Carson, that a Muslim should never be allowed to serve as president; the same percentage also agree with Trump’s claim that Obama is waging a war against Christianity.

Alarmingly, 67 percent of his voters support national database of Muslims; 62 percent believe his unfounded claim that thousands of New Jersey Arabs cheered 9/11; and 51 percent want to see mosques in this country shut down.In Iowa, where Trump now trails Ted Cruz, the numbers aren’t much better. The same public opinion poll found that 30 percent of Republican voters want to criminalize Islam. 

76 percent of the GOP nationwide thinks that Islam is un-American, and 54 percent of Republican voters across the country believe that Obama is a Muslim (remember the Trump “birther” kerfuffle?).  Suddenly, the reasons for Trump’s paroxysms of prejudice sharpen into fuller relief.

The biggest obstacle facing American Muslims isn’t the opportunism of election season rhetoric, however nasty it may be. Instead, it’s the pockets of sustained prejudice across the country that give the Trumps of the world reason to pipe off such nonsense in the first place.

That cesspool of toxic worldviews is the illness. It’s demagogues like Donald Trump who fish from it, that are the symptoms. Drying up anti-Muslim prejudice within the GOP — a task that is undoubtedly difficult — is the only way to ensure that future presidential candidates or politicians in that party don’t pander to the crazies who line their ranks and use Muslims as political pawns to gain advantage.

In the end, the result is a world where religious minorities aren’t targeted with rhetoric and rage, and one where polarizing trolls like Trump don’t have a shot at occupying the highest office in the land.
Sadly, I do not see the GOP changing for the better - at least not until the Christofascists are driven from the party.  And, frankly, I don't know how that metastasizing cancer in the GOP can be easily  eradicated. 

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