Posted by: Lister | February 2, 2008

Why voters were turned off by Guiliani

Juan Cole gives his opinion:

The American public, worried about mortgages, recession and a seemingly interminable war in Iraq, was unimpressed — those who fear-mongered the most about Muslim terrorists have faltered at the polls.

Examples include:
— Rep. Tom Tancredo threatening to nuke Mecca and Medina in response to an attack on America.

— John Deady (co-chair of Guiliani’s veteran’s campaign) chasing Muslims back to their caves; and who doesn’t “subscribe to the principle that there are good Muslims and bad Muslims. They’re all Muslims.”

— Rep. Peter King of New York: “unfortunately we have too many mosques in this country.”

— Daniel Pipes, another Guiliani advisor. Cole calls him “a professional Islamophobe”

Giuliani and his advisors appeared to revel in demonizing Muslims. They also reveled in their own ignorance — never learning the difference between “Islamic” and “Muslim.”

“Islamic” has to do with the religion founded by the prophet Mohammed. We speak of Islamic ethics or Islamic art, as things that derive from the religion. “Muslim,” on the contrary, describes the believer. It would be perfectly all right to talk about Muslim terrorists, but calling them Islamic terrorists or Islamic fascists implies that the religion of Islam is somehow essentially connected to those extremist movements.

Giuliani complained that during their debates, Democratic rivals “never mentioned the word ‘Islamic terrorist,’ ‘Islamic extremist,’ ‘Islamic fascist,’ ‘terrorist,’ whatever combination of those words you want to use, [the] words never came up.” He added, “I can’t imagine who you insult if you say ‘Islamic terrorist.’ You don’t insult anyone who is Islamic who isn’t a terrorist.”

But people are not “Islamic,” they are Muslim. And one most certainly does insult Muslims by tying their religion to movements such as terrorism or fascism.

Muslims perceive a double standard in this regard: Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols would never be called “Christian terrorists” even though they were in close contact with the Christian Identity Movement. No one would speak of Christofascism or Judeofascism as the Republican candidates speak of Islamofascism.

[…] Giuliani’s pledge to take the United States on an offensive against Islamic fascism, which he also said would be a long-term battle, failed to excite the imagination of voters. It may well have alarmed them in a way different from what Giuliani intended: If, by Giuliani’s logic, the United States is only on the “defensive” now, with wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, what would being on the offensive look like?

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