Horowitz: One Ugly Week on the Home-Front

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

 

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Rob Horowitz

The unhinged and destructive responses of too many of our political leaders and candidates over the past week or so to the attacks in Paris and in Mali by ISIS and Al Qaeda respectively  made this past week one of the ugliest and most hateful in recent memory on the home-front.

While President Hollande asserted that despite the deadly attacks by ISIS, France would keep its commitment to take in Syrian refugees, saying “France will remain a country of freedom,” the US House of Representatives voted by more than a 2 to 1 margin with 47 Democrats joining the Republicans to make it all but impossible for the United States to do the same.  A US Congress that has yet to vote to authorize our military response to ISIS, moved at lightening speed on an issue that in terms of real protection of the homeland is little more than symbolic and sends the wrong message to the rest of the world.

Donald Trump, the current Republican front-runner, said we should seriously consider shutting down Mosques and embraced then slowly retreated from instituting a data base of all Muslims. And he capped off a week of ill-advised, hateful remarks with a bold faced untruth designed to question the loyalty of Muslims living in this nation. Recounting an event that only he remembers , which the people who were on the scene including the police say never happened and of which no archival footage can be found, Trump said, ”I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.”

He originally made this untruthful assertion at a rally in Alabama on Saturday and stuck to his guns on Sunday when interviewed by George Stephanopoulos, claiming that he watched it on television and saying. “There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations”  

Mayor of Jersey City Steve Fulop responded accurately and appropriately to Trump’s despicable remarks: “Trump is plain wrong, and he is shamefully politicizing an emotionally charged issue, No one in Jersey City cheered on September 11th. We were actually among the first to provide responders to help in lower Manhattan. Trump needs to understand that Jersey City will not be part of his hate campaign.”

The other Republican Presidential candidates did not go as far as Trump, but they hardly covered themselves in glory.  From Jeb Bush and Ted  Cruz saying we should let in Syrian Christians only to Ben Carson, who previously said we should not elect a Muslim President, comparing Syrian refugees to rabid dogs, the craven catering to Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Republican primary voters was all too apparent.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) was one of the only Republicans willing to publicly criticize their party's Presidential candidates’ offensive and off base anti-Muslim comments: Referring most specifically to Trump and Carson, McCain said, “I think they’re diverting attention from their total lack of knowledge and expertise as to how to address this challenge. Second of all, I think it’s offensive. There’s 3,500 men and women serving in the military that are Muslim. Does that mean they’re gonna have to leave where they’re serving overseas, some of them in combat, to register somewhere? That’s really something that I find bizarre and clearly unpresidential."
 
The fact that our fellow Muslim Americans are well-integrated and proud and patriotic citizens is one of our strategic advantages to preventing attacks on the homeland and a critical selling point in a world-wide war of ideas--a war we must win. The comments of Trump and others are great propaganda points for ISIS and Al Qaeda—giving them fresh ammunition to argue that the United States and the rest of the West are anti-Muslim and bent on the destruction of the religion.

It is time for more Republicans to stand up and reject the truly un-American hate-mongering that has dominated their party’s Presidential campaign since Paris. They will not only be providing a service to their party; they will be doing what’s right for our nation.


Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.

 

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