Key members of the Congressional ‘Islamophobia caucus’ swept from Congress

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 24 Comments
West and Geller
Former Florida House Republican Allen West poses with anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller (Phota via DownWithTyranny.blogspot.com)

Key members of what has been termed Congress’ “Islamophobia caucus” went down in their re-election fights last night, dealing a blow to anti-Muslim activists’ efforts to influence policy and the national discourse. National Muslim organizations celebrated their victories today.

Allen West (R-FL), Joe Walsh (R-IL) and Adam Hasner (R-FL) were three Republicans that had used anti-Muslim rhetoric throughout their elected careers. But now they’re out of a job (though Hasner was running for a Congressional seat he did not hold).

“Folks in their districts wanted to send a message: we will not allow divisive politics, we will not allow extremism to run our political conversation,” said Haris Tarin, the director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Washington, D.C. office. “It also tells people that trying to divide Americans, by using anti-Muslim rhetoric, will not work in the long run.”

West, a former U.S. Army colonel, went down in Florida’s 18th Congressional district after Patrick Murphy squeaked by in a slim victory. West’s political career from the outset was marred by controversy; he is alleged to have threatened an Iraqi prisoner with death during an interrogation and to have fired shots near the prisoner–something that Murphy attacked him for in the campaign.

The Daily Beast’s Ali Gharib has more background on West’s Islamophobia:

In the House, West earned a reputation as a ferocious right-wing attack dog. The unfounded accusations that dozens of Communists populate the Congress’s Democratic caucus were nothing new, but his most novel legacy may be West’s inflammatory rhetoric about Muslims. Along with Reps. Steve King (R-IA) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN), West used his time in Congress to press his case that Islam is “not a religion” but a “totalitarian theocratic political ideology,” and that terrorism is inherent to the faith—not radical Islam, but Islam, writ large. He’s accused a fellow Member of Congress, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), a Muslim, of “represent(ing) the antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established.”

If all that wasn’t bad enough, West has shared a stage with America’s foremost anti-Muslim activist, Pamela Geller (who was recently in the news again). When he was called out for his ties to bigots like Geller and asked to respect Muslims’ right to worship freely, his one-word response made an apparent comparison between the request and Nazi overtures for an American surrender in World War II.

Illinois’ Walsh lost his Congressional seat to Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth. “With 93 percent of the unofficial vote counted, Duckworth had 55 percent, with 45 percent for Walsh,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Walsh, in addition to his far-right advocacy on the Israel/Palestine conflict, has also spewed anti-Muslim rhetoric.

In August, Walsh warned that radical Islamists were “trying to kill Americans every week” and that the next 9/11 was inevitable. Walsh also claimed that radical Islam “was here” in the Chicago suburbs. Shortly after Walsh’s remarks made waves, two Chicago-area Muslim centers were violently attacked.

Hasner was a former Florida state representative until 2010, and decided to run for a Florida House seat in 2012. But he lost to Lois Frankel last night. He was an up and coming Jewish Republican who is really cozy with Pamela Geller, the nation’s leading and most virulent anti-Muslim activist. Hasner also was a leader in ginning up fear over the non-existent threat of Sharia law coming to the U.S, and once invited notorious anti-Muslim politician Geert Wilders to a “free speech” conference.

“These encouraging results clearly show that mainstream Americans reject anti-Muslim bigotry by candidates for public office and will demonstrate that rejection at the polls,” Nihad Awad, executive director for the Council on American Islamic Relations, said in a statement. “This election witnessed an increased political awareness and mobilization effort among American Muslims that dealt a major blow to the Islamophobia machine.”

And while Michele Bachmann (R-MN), the undisputed leader of Islamophobia in U.S. government, ultimately won her race last night, it was extremely close. Despite spending 10 times the amount her opponent Jim Graves did, Bachmann only won by a few thousand votes. Bachmann is the woman who claimed, with no evidence, that there was Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the U.S. government. MPAC’s Tarin said that the message voters in Bachmann’s district sent was, “if you continue to use this anti-Muslim rhetoric as your main platform issue, to divide Americans, it’s not going to work.”

In a press release, CAIR also noted some other races where anti-Muslim politicians went down: “In Arkansas, Rep. James McLean defeated Republican Charlie Fuqua, a candidate who advocated the deportation of all Muslims in a self-published book. In Minnesota, Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN) lost his seat. Cravaack was a key supporter’s of Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) series of anti-Muslim hearings.”

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist and graduate student at New York University's Near East Studies and Journalism programs. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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24 Responses

  1. Annie Robbins
    November 7, 2012, 5:34 pm

    Amen and good riddance. This brings tears to my eyes.

  2. CloakAndDagger
    November 7, 2012, 6:06 pm

    That’s a pretty intimate pose for the two!

  3. Avi_G.
    November 7, 2012, 6:11 pm

    Peter King got re-elected?

  4. Dan Crowther
    November 7, 2012, 6:13 pm

    Niiiice. See ya later.

  5. MRW
    November 7, 2012, 7:59 pm

    he is alleged to have threatened an Iraqi prisoner with death during an interrogation and to have fired shots near the prisoner

    It’s not alleged. He was cited for court martial and chose an Article 15 instead and resigned. In addition, every bit of torture info he got from the terrorized innocent prisoner turned out to be false.

    • Hostage
      November 8, 2012, 11:26 am

      It’s not alleged. He was cited for court martial and chose an Article 15 instead and resigned.

      Article 15 is non-judicial punishment. The government offered it to him, not vice versa. It didn’t present its case in court and prevail. More importantly, he didn’t really enter a plea of guilty or no-contest to the charges either.

      • Citizen
        November 8, 2012, 4:58 pm

        Maybe he chose summary judgement by a single officer who listened to him and weighed whatever evidence there was, and that officer then decided he was guilty of enough transgressions to warrant giving him a judgement of an Article 15 (e.g., picking up lawn trash for a few weeks), on condition he resign.

      • tcdurbin
        November 8, 2012, 8:30 pm

        His behavior is described in some detail in Thomas Ricks’ Fiasco.

        West’s command was part of the 3rd Infantry Division. That division had many, many problems surrounding their interactions with the Iraqis. It’s safe to say, though, that West’s command stands out as particularly bad.

  6. DICKERSON3870
    November 7, 2012, 9:03 pm

    Thanks! That great photo of Allen West posing with anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller is a keeper! ! !

  7. Taxi
    November 7, 2012, 11:48 pm

    Pamella Botox Geller.

    Good grief her eyebrows are practically touching her ears!

    I’m sorry folks but when there’s no substance to seriously critique, all I’m left with is commentary on her plastic surgeon’s work. Well, I live in LA and that’s how we are out west.

    • Kathleen
      November 8, 2012, 8:59 am

      She is a beautiful lady. Looks better without all of the makeup. But clearly very ugly and poisonous on the inside and when she talks I just shake my head in disbelief and wonder who could actually believe anything she says. So absurd and hateful

      • Taxi
        November 8, 2012, 10:50 am

        Kathleen hullllllow: plastic surgery on nose and jaw bones, lip injections, invisaline dentals and dollops of botox – oh yeah and tinted contact lenses.

        For all we know, she could have a wooden leg too that she’s had enhanced.

  8. DICKERSON3870
    November 8, 2012, 8:44 am

    RE: “Key members of what has been termed Congress’ ‘Islamophobia caucus’ went down in their re-election fights last night . . . West, a former U.S. Army colonel, went down in Florida’s 18th Congressional district after Patrick Murphy squeaked by in a slim victory.” ~ Alex Kane

    FROM NOAM SHEIZAF, +972 Magazine, 11/09/12:

    [EXCERPT] . . . Sheldon Adelson was one of the largest contributors to Romney’s campaign, as well as to five other Rebublican candidates. Among them was Florida Rep. Allen West, whose Super PAC got $1.5 million from the gambling billionaire. All of Mr. Adelson’s candidates except for incumbent Senator Dean Heller (NV) lost (West is probably heading to a re-count). Altogether, Adelson spent $100 million on the 2012 elections. . .

    SOURCE – link to 972mag.com

  9. pabelmont
    November 8, 2012, 9:42 am

    Did these guys get non-elected because of Islamophobia, because of opposition or money from Islam, because of J-Street, or else — why? I’ve got nothing against good guys winning, but I do wonder why.

  10. Citizen
    November 8, 2012, 6:04 pm

    Looks like West lost by a thin margin; he wants the ballots and machines impounded:
    link to swampland.time.com

    I read 4 or 5 articles on this election result and they all list what a crackpot he is, calling the Democrats nazis, commies, etc and shilling far, far right Tea Party stuff–but no mention of his Muslim hatred. Wonder why?

    • piotr
      November 8, 2012, 9:12 pm

      Good observation, Citizen. There is a very good article in Mother Jones
      link to motherjones.com
      discussing Allen West in detail, and his hatred of Muslim and Islam was indeed one of his principal driving motifs. Demonstrations against Muslim and anti-Muslim organizing was important in South Florida and in West’s carrier — together with unlamented Adam Hasner.

      The most charitable interpetation is that new stories are hasty jobs about West contesting the election results, so calling Congressmen Communists is the simplest way of explaining in half-sentence that the guy is a total nut. However, Communist threat is really, really stale, while the threat from the Caliphate is fresh — this is where the real excitement is.

      Clearly, this is a subject with much richer tradition than anti-Communism, one can invoke Charles Martel or Santiago Matamoros (St. James Slay the Moors) link to youtube.com

  11. asherpat
    November 11, 2012, 2:36 am

    Indeed, dark times for Israel are on the horizon. Demographic changes in the US mean GOP will have hard times too. But maybe, just maybe, you see on that picture that next black POTUS?

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