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Sanders Campaign Releases Ad Slamming Anti-Muslim Bigotry

Tackling anti-Muslim bigotry and challenging Islamism are complementary rather than contradictory ideas.

Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders released a new campaign video April 18 directly addressing anti-Muslim bigotry in the United States.

Entitled Love Trumps Hate, Sanders argues hatred against Muslims is used in contemporary American political discourse as a sop to distract people from the real problems of wealth inequality and injustice.

He specifically targets Donald Trump in the ad, saying “demagogues like Trump who come along as say ‘I know what the cause of your problem is’.”

“Today it is Muslims, you won’t remember how many years ago we were younger it was the uppity women who were trying to take our jobs as men, it was blacks who wanted to take white jobs that’s what demagoguery is about.”

Sanders is perceived by many as the only candidate in the race addressing concerns that the Muslim community has about rising anti-Muslim bigotry in America. Integration is an important part of the struggle against Islamism and Sanders’ attempts to reach out to the Muslim community are important in promoting that.

Others perceive him as pandering to Islamist apologists. He has met with activists who have spoken out in defense of Muslim Brotherhood affiliate Hamas. The Director of Jews for Bernie, Daniel Sieradski, even praised Hamas, writing “Great insight is to be gained from the remarks of Hamas’ founder, Sheikh Ahemd Yassin, himself, which are much more down-to-earth and pragmatic than any portrayal of Hamas in the right-wing oriented media” according toFrontPage Magazine.

He met with and was endorsed by the head of the Arab-American Association of New York, Linda Sarsour, an organization supported by the Qatar Foundation. The foundation is linked to the Qatari government and the Muslim Brotherhood. Sarsour’s brother-in-law is serving a 12-year sentence in an Israeli prison for involvement with Hamas.

Sanders has taken stances to oppose Islamist extremism as well, currently backing a bill which would enable victims of 9/11 to sue the government of Saudi Arabia over the gulf kingdom’s role in the al-Qaeda attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. All other candidates have also backed the bill, except John Kasich who has not yet commented.

Other candidates have focused specifically on the national-security dimension of Muslim integration.

Senator Ted Cruz recently caused controversy by calling for increased patrols of Muslim-majority areas by law enforcement. In December, Trump called for “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

Genuine concerns about Islamism must not lead one to fall prey to anti-Muslim bigotry against American Muslims as a whole. Sanders’ advert shows that side of the debate.

Tackling this issue as either “pro- or anti-Muslim” is shortsighted and counter-productive. Only when we are able to robustly challenge Islamism while, at the same time, opposing anti-Muslim bigotry against ordinary Muslims can both toxic ideas be defeated.

To see what all the candidates are saying about Islamist extremism see our profile on the U.S. Presidential Election 2016.

ABOUT ELLIOT FRIEDLAND

Elliot Friedland is the Dialogue Coordinator with the Clarion Project. 

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VIDEO: Democratic Party TV Ad Objects to Use of Term ‘Radical Islam’

A new ad by the Democratic National Committee strikes out at Republican presidential candidates for using the term “radical Islam,” saying that using the term is “equating Islam, all Muslims, with terrorists.”

In the ad, the DNC also objects the use of the terms “radical Islamic terrorism,” “radical Muslims” and “radical Islamic jihadists” by Republican presidential candidates, saying, “It’s oversimplifications and it’s wrong.”

The reason why the term “radical Islam” is used is precisely to make the distinction between this type of Islam and Islam itself. (While most of us learned about the purpose of adjectives in grade school grammar classes, it seems that members of the DNC were absent for that class.)

Moreover, the claim that using the term “radical Islam” amounts to indicting “all Muslims” as terrorists is equally absurd.

Insulting the audience further, the ad shows a clip of former Republican President George W. Bush saying, “We do not fight against Islam. We fight against evil” and “The war against terrorism is not a war against Muslims.”

No Republican presidential candidate who has used the term “radical Islam” — much less the majority of the Americans who agree with this use of the term “radical Islam” – intends to indict an entire faith group for the behavior of some of its members.

To wit, in America, the number of hate crimes against Muslims actually decreased during the past year. And in France, a Pew poll suggested the approval ratings of Muslims in France increased in the months after the Charlie Hebdo attack. Significantly, the increased approval rating was manifest in all political strata, from those identifying as left to moderate and right. (French people saying they held “favorable” or “mostly favorable” attitudes towards Muslims numbered 85, 82 and 65 percent, respectively.)

We have all heard the argument that terrorism has nothing to do with Islam. As recently as November 19, less than a week after Islamist terrorists perpetrated the horrific attacks on Paris, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted, “Let’s be clear: Islam is not our adversary. Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.”

Facile platitudes such as these, as well as the blatant distortion that using the term “radical Islam” is equivalent to calling all Muslims terrorists does an extreme disservice to humanity, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, both of whom are in the crosshairs of a fanatical ideology that seeks their destruction.

Just days before the DNC’s ad appeared, King Abdullah of Jordan warned, “We are facing a Third World War against humanity” if the civilized world does not “act fast to tackle” the Islamic State and similar terrorist groups.

What the DNC refuses to admit, King Abdullah stated clearly, “This is a war, as I said repeatedly, within Islam,” noting that over 100,000 Muslims have been murdered by the Islamic State over the past two years (including in “atrocities like-minded groups” have pertetrated in Africa and Asia.)

In a recent landmark speech, UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron called out U.S. President Barack Obama for failing to name Islamist extremism and calling it instead “violent extremism.”

“Barack, you said it and you’re right — every religion has its extremists,” Cameron countered. “But we have to be frank that the biggest problem we have today is the Islamist extremist violence that has given birth to ISIL [ISIS], to al-Shabab, to al-Nusra, al Qaeda and so many other groups.”

In response to Obama’s failure to name the ideology behind current terrorism, Maajid Nawaz, a former Islamist who now is on the forefront of those advocating against this ideology, asks, “What happens if you don’t name the Islamist ideology and distinguish it from Islam?”

Nawaz says what will come back to Muslims is exactly the attitude the DNC is advocating against. “You’re sending out the message to the vast majority of Americans: There’s an ideology you must challenge, but you don’t tell them what it’s called. What are they going to assume? The average American is going to think, ‘Yeah, I’ve got to challenge an ideology — it’s called Islam.’”

Nawaz added, “You’re only going to increase anti-Muslim hatred, increase the hysteria, like ‘he who must not be named’ — the Voldemort effect, I call it — by not naming the ideology. Because the average guy out there is going to assume the president is talking about the religion itself.

“But if you distingiush Islamist extremism and say, ‘Look, Islam’s a religion. We’re not going to tell you whether Islam is good or bad, peaceful or not. We’re not going to define that for you. What we can say is you mustn’t try to impose that on anyone else. If you do, that’s called Islamism, and that’s what we have a problem with.’”

In the long run, failing to name this treacherous enemy will almost certainly mean the battle against it will be lost. In truth, bombs can only destroy people, but they are ineffective against ideology, which can always fourish in newer and younger groups of people.

In his speech, Cameron stated, “Our new approach is about isolating the extremists from everyone else, so that all our Muslim communities can be free from the poison of Islamist extremism.”

Naming “radical Islam” for the ideology it is, is the first step towards fighting this scourge on all civilization as we know it.

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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VIDEO: Iraq War Veteran Wounded by Iranian IED Says ‘Kill The Deal’

Watch this public service announcement from Vets against the Deal. Featured is U.S. Army Staff Sargent Robert Bartlett (Retired), who was critically wounded in 2005 by a bomb made in Iran, explains why there can be no deal with Iran over its nukes.

Remember, Iran’s Quds Force commander Gen. Qasem Soleimani has the blood of 500 Americans on his hands from high velocity IEDs in Iraq. As Vietnam era vet, I support this Vets against the deal ad campaign.

Outgoing U.S. Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno commented that a quarter of U.S. casualties in Iraq during his tour as combat commander came from Shia insurgents controlled by Soleimani’s Quds Force.

RELATED ARTICLE: How Iran Plans to Destroy Israel

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.