In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, the Republican presidential candidates (a phrase that gives them more credibility than they deserve) have been falling all over themselves to be crowned head xenophobe.
First came the early responses. Donald Trump and Ben Carson think that there should be a database collecting information about Muslims. Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz think that only Christian refugees should be allowed into the U.S. Marco Rubio has agreed with all of those suggestions, except when he’s not agreeing with them.
Since then the rhetoric has only gotten uglier. Trump has fabricated the claim that there were thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheering the fall of the World Trade Center towers in 2001. No surprise that the atmosphere is nasty; the man who led an armed protest against Muslims in Irving, Texas, has posted the names and addresses of local Muslims online.
Draw your own conclusions as to why.
So what does all this have to do with us? A lot. Here are six reasons why it’s in our interest to stand up against the anti-Muslim hysteria gripping the Republican party
It starts with Muslims. It won’t end there
The GOP base is viscerally opposed to anyone it views as the other: Muslims, Black Lives Matters, a black President. It doesn’t matter that they are citizens. Whenever the country starts sorting people into us and them, we are always at risk. We may think we’re no different than anyone else, and in one sense that’s true. But to a lot of people we will always be “them,” outsiders who are somehow not fully part of America. That’s a dangerous place to be.
The right wing sees both Muslims and gays as terrorists
There is a persistent theme among some conservatives that the LGBT community is itself a terrorist outfit because we oppose antigay bigotry. Sometimes the connection to Muslim extremism is even more explicit. Just this summer, Breitbart columnist John Nolte insisted that the rainbow flag was triggered an attack that left four Marines dead in Chattanooga. The gunman, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, grew up in the U.S. in a devout Muslim home. The fact that one of the terror suspects had a reputation as a rent boy only confirms the fringe belief.
There are gay Muslim Americans, you know
Just as a reminder of the obvious: Muslims aren’t “them.” They’re also us, and they’re dealing with a double dose of hatred. Yes, there are homophobic Muslims too, But Muslims are not a monolithic group. Kind of like Americans. You wouldn’t want to be lumped into the same category as Kim Davis, would you? And as a corollary:
Banning Muslim refugees means we might be condemning them to death
We know the horror of militant extremists who kill gay Muslims, something that conservatives like to keep pointing out. So what’s the logic in making sure that they can’t seek safety in the U.S.? Is it that it’s better for them to be dead so we can feel safe? Because that’s the ultimate effect.
A litmus test for refugees can be extended to gay asylum seekers
Imagine a Marco Rubio presidency (otherwise known as The Humger Games: Part 3). He’s already restricted Muslim refugees from entering the U.S. Who else qualifies as an undesirable alien? Once the restrictions are in place, it’s not hard to think of other categories that they can expanded to include.
It’s the right thing to do.
We’ve been on the receiving end of this kind of hatred, so we know what it’s like. Now we’re in a more secure (though not absolutely so) position. It’s time for us to be the kind of ally that we counted on when we needed it most.
Now you can make fun of Republicans, who have been complaining about immigrants ever since they came to this country. What’s shameful is the gay and bisexual Democrats in Congress who threw their lot in with the fringe to put the brakes on the already stringent and appallingly meager refugee program already in place. They fueled the hysteria at a time when they should have stood up to it.
It’s a sad day when the folks who should know what it’s like to be outsiders decide that the message to Muslims, both within our country and out of it, is that we don’t think you’re one of us.