Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Republican Presidential Debate:
Stealth Agenda of Gingrich and Cain
By Mirza A Beg
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, June 27, 2011
The Republican debate of June 13th moderated by John King of CNN
was generally a collegial affair. It was essentially a “Knock Obama” rally,
with understated minor differences among the candidates.
when CNN moderator John King asked former Godfather Pizza magnate, Harman
Cain, “You recently said you would not appoint a Muslim to your cabinet and
you kind of backed off a little bit and said you would first want to know if
they’re committed to the Constitution. You expressed concern that, quote, “a
lot of Muslims are not totally dedicated to this country.” Are
American-Muslims as a group less committed to the Constitution than, say,
Christians or Jews?”
Cain backpedaled a bit and said,” I would not
be comfortable because you have peaceful Muslims and then you have militant
Muslims, those that are trying to kill us. And so, when I said I wouldn’t be
comfortable, I was thinking about the ones that are trying to kill us,
number one. Secondly, yes, I do not believe in Sharia law in American
courts. I believe in American laws in American courts, period. There have
been instances –“
John King turned to other candidates and asked
their views on the subject. Some candidates were uncomfortable, but not
former speaker of the House,
Newt Gingrich. Trying to resuscitate
his dying campaign, stridently he said, “Now, I just want to go out on a
limb here. I’m in favor of saying to people, if you’re not prepared to be
loyal to the United States, you will not serve in my administration,
period.” He added “We did this—we did this in dealing with the Nazis and we
did this in dealing with the communists. And it was controversial both
times, and both times we discovered after a while, you know, there are some
genuinely bad people who would like to infiltrate our country. And we have
got to have the guts to stand up and say no.”
For those who do not
remember, Gingrich was approvingly referring to the Red baiting campaign in
early 1950s by the Republican senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. It has
been widely condemned and it lives in infamy as McCarthyism.
few Muslim citizens have engaged in terrorism against the US, but an
overwhelming majority of Muslims are productive and loyal citizens. It is no
secret that Muslim bashing is popular among some in the Republican Party.
They conveniently forget that some of the plots were thwarted by Muslims
contacting the police.
Sadly not one candidate on the podium
admonished Cain and Gingrich, as they would have, if such a sweeping
statement was made to malign other minorities such as Jews or Blacks. Even
sadder yet, it did not elicit much comment in the popular media either.
Not too long ago some Republicans did stand up to challenge such remarks,
but the party has changed.
In 2007 Republican debates, while others
remained quiet, John McCain condemned Mitt Romney’s remark that he will not
appoint any Muslim to his cabinet. McCain said, “I’m proud of the Muslims
who are currently serving in the United States armed forces and my sense is
that if they can serve in that manner, they can serve in any position of
responsibility in America.”
In December 2002, an intemperate
remark by Senator Trent Lott cost him the leadership of the Republican Party
in the Senate. Celebrating the 100th birthday of South Carolina Senator
Strom Thurmond, Senator Trent Lott, the Republican leader in the Senate
said, “When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud
of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t
have had all these problems over the years, either.”
were construed as racist, because in 1948 Strom Thurmond broke with the
Democratic Party on the issue of enforcement of civil rights legislation and
ran for the Presidency as a State’s Rights Party candidate.
Constitution is secular. Thankfully our laws are not based on religious
preference. Although when not in conflict with the civil laws, in some
jurisdictions it has accommodated people, who by mutual agreement wanted
their personal disputes settled by arbitration by religious tribunal. Courts
have enforced the result of such arbitration in case of Jewish, Mormon and
other religions as in contract law.
The spurious injection of Sharia
in the debate is a “Red Herring” to divert attention and garner cheap
popularity from the considerable weight of the xenophobic wing of the
Republican Party. There is no monolithic Sharia law. These laws were
developed by different schools of thoughts in the 9th century to check the
creeping autocracy of the rulers. They are open to debate, and have evolved
on diverse lines through the ages.
The irony is that most rightwing
Republicans are opposed to the idea of separation of “Church and State”
notwithstanding the first amendment. That is why Rev. Pat Robertson found so
much traction in the Republican primaries in the 1980s. Rev. Charles Kimball
writes in his book, “When Religion Becomes Lethal “ that Ralph Reed, the
head of the Christian Coalition, famously referred to the practice of
running “stealth candidates” where the radical agenda would be hidden from
voters by focusing on hot button issues such as abortion or homosexuality.
By the time the voters knew what victorious candidate really advocated, they
would not know what hit them.
Some of the 2012 Republican aspirants
are not much different. Some want the United States to be under the Biblical
laws, while others in an effort to dupe them are stealthily raising a bogus
threat from the Sharia laws. To protect all, multi-religious as well as
irreligious citizens, would it not be better to, honestly adhere to the
principle of “Separation of Church and State”, no lying, no ifs and no buts?
Instead of the loyalty test for ordinary law abiding citizens of any
faith or no faith, the electorate should reject stealth candidates whose
support the US Constitution is dubious. If elected they would have to take
the oath of office with fingers crossed.
Mirza A. Beg can be contacted at