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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: Islamophobia a Detriment to GOP

I stepped off the plane and followed my fellow flight-mates through the airport to the appallingly long and infuriatingly inefficient process that is U.S. Customs. 

As I saw others move through without incident, one officer stopped me and asked about the origin of an instrument I was carrying. “It’s from Morocco,” I said, unsurprised by the look of suspicion that filled his face. 

“This way,” he said, as he pointed through the doors to the additional security checkpoint. 

Not too long before, I was conversing with an older man sitting next to me on the plane, who asked where I had traveled. Upon hearing I traveled to Morocco, the passenger became interested and asked me if it was “a country full of [jihadis].” 

Later, when I mentioned to my hometown neighbor that I’m studying Arabic, he commended me for “going to fight the terrorists.” Despite the fear I encountered in the U.S., I never once met a single terrorist during my seven-week stay in Morocco.

Now, this isn’t to say that my brief experiences with Islamophobia are indicative of America as a whole, but my short-lived conversations show clearly that a certain stereotype remains resilient when it comes to Muslims in America.

Islamophobia — the dislike of, or prejudice against Islam or Muslims — is especially prevalent within the Republican Party, the members of which continue to isolate Muslims with unfounded claims and rhetoric.

Despite his current popularity in the polls, Donald Trump cannot hope for long term success without the eventual inclusion of a more significant portion of minority groups, including Muslims. 

In fact, Muslims could, logically, be strong supporters of the GOP. In 2007, according to The Daily Beast, “only 13 percent of Muslim Americans earned over $100,000, but that number has now climbed to over 20 percent, eclipsing the average in the [U.S.]” 

Generally, people earning over $100,000 support fewer taxes and a smaller government, which are two of the core pillars of the Republican platform. 

Forging an even stronger potential connection, however, is the idea of religious liberty, which is extremely important to pious Muslims and a cornerstone of conservative ideology as well.

Despite the logic, though, the GOP continues to act perversely toward the communities of Muslims in the U.S. During the first Republican debate, George Pataki and Lindsey Graham both declared that they would support the monitoring of mosques in order to combat Islamic extremism. 

Republican candidate Carly Fiorina recently came under attack from other conservatives — such as Michele Bachmann and several news outlets — for asserting in a 2001 speech that Islamic societies have contributed greatly to the world. 

When asked at an Iowa rally how to tell the difference between “peaceful Muslims and radical [jihadis],” Rick Santorum, a 2016 presidential hopeful, argued that, “if you look at Islamists, they all have the same ideology.” 

Candidates from all corners of the GOP have come to embrace an attitude of bigotry against Islam, which has driven potential voters among Muslim Americans to align with different candidates.

In 2012, Graham bluntly stated that the Republican Party was not winning with demographics because “[the GOP] is not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.” 

Despite these outdated views on social issues and many matters regarding race, the Republican Party has still not evolved within the last decade, and GOP candidates suffer from their views at the polls: in 2008, 89 percent of Muslims voted for Barack Obama, followed by 85 percent in 2012. 

As the party continues with its sweeping condemnation of Islam as a whole, an entire class of American citizens quickly becomes disenchanted. If conservatives want to win in 2016, and especially in the elections thereafter, it desperately needs a reformation of its core social values.

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