Rick Santorum’s Islamophobia Problem

Rick Santorum’s Islamophobia Problem

By Ali Gharib

GOP presidential hopeful and former senator Rick Santorum found himself amid a flurry of new attention after placing a close second in the Iowa caucuses. One of the fiery right-wing politician’s views coming under increased scrutiny is his attitude toward Islam. Already in this campaign, Santorum endorsed profiling in airport security and, when pressed, said, “Obviously, Muslims would be someone you’d look at.

Now, journalist Max Blumenthal unearthed a 2007 speech Santorum gave to a Washingtonconference at the invitation of David Horowitz. In the speech (audio can be found at anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller‘s site), Santorum outlined the “war” against “radical Islam”:

What must we do to win? We must educate, engage, evangelize and eradicate. …

The other thing we need to do is eradicate, and that’s the final thing. As I said, this is going to be a long war. There are going to be pluses and minuses, ups and downs. But we have to win this war to — fight this war to win this war.

Santorum insists that he’s “not suggesting that we have to go in there and blow them up.” But, later in the speech, he compares the “long war” to World War II, adding, “Americans don’t like war. They don’t like suffering and dying. No one does.”

Both in this speech and in other writings and remarks, Santorum often specifies that he’s speaking of “radical Islam.” But what does “radical Islam” mean to Santorum? In fact, the former senator often times conflates extremists with the entire Muslim faith at-large and, at other times, he states outright that radicals dominate Islam. In the 2007 D.C. speech, Santorum compared Muslim wars from hundreds of years ago to 9/11: “Does anybody know when the high-water mark of Islam was? September the 11th, 1683,” he said to gasps from the audience.

As to what “losing” the war with “radical Islam” looks like, Santorum discussed Europe. “Europe is on the way to losing,” he said. “The most popular male name in Belgium — Mohammad. It’s the fifth most popular name in France among boys.” The other data point he cited was larger birthrates among “Islamic Europeans” as opposed to “Westernized Europeans.” Nowhere did he indicate a growing “radical” threat in Europe.

In October 2007 at his alma mater Penn State, Santorum gave a speech and failed to break out the radical strain from the faith at-large: “Islam, unlike Christianity, is an all-encompassing ideology. It is not just something you do on Sunday. … We (as Americans) don’t get that.” The quote is particularly ironic from someone who, among other such statements, has said, “[O]ur civil laws have to comport with a higher law: God’s law.

In a January 2007 speech, Santorum suggested Islam at-large was responsible for religious freedom issues and put the onus Muslims to deal with these issues to end the “war”:

Until we have the kind of discussion and dialogue with Islam — that democracy and freedom of religion, along with religious pluralism, are essential for the stability of the world and our ability to cohabit in this world. Unless Islam is willing to make that conscious decision, then we are going to be at war for a long time.

If Santorum’s discourse sounds like some of the Islamophobia network outlined in CAP’s Fear, Inc. report, that should be no surprise. Horowitz has repeatedly hosted Santorum for “Islamo-fascism Awareness Week” events and Geller and her associate Robert Spencer cite his work approvingly.

In a 2008 appearance at the Christians United For Israel confab, Santorum outflanked even Daniel Pipes. When Pipes mentioned that radicals only constituted about 10 to 15 percent of Muslims worldwide, Santorum, before wondering whether Muslims are capable of making moral decisions at all, challenged him:

It’s not a small number. OK? It’s not a fringe. It’s a sizable group of people that hold these views. [Pipes’ notion of ‘moderate’ Islam] is the exception, I would argue, of what traditional Islam is doing.

No decent American — or anyone across the globe — should oppose “eradicat(ing)” extremist ideologies like militant, “radical Islam.” But Santorum’s history of statements raises questions about just exactly what and who he’s targeting for eradication.

3 thoughts on “Rick Santorum’s Islamophobia Problem

  1. First of all – with the Euro-American right-wing it’s not reality as it is, reality established by such things as social scientific studies, demographics, or other acceptable ways to get to know what is “truth.” It’s about what they can make reality to be, and promote “their reality” through mass media that thy own. They own the mass media in the US and in the Netherlands. They has a good amount of resources. This is why we still have the “Islamisation” (islamisering in Dutch) myth out there and still have many people that believe in this myth.

    To these people, there is no such thing as a “moderate Islam” and to engage in this type of discourse is to engage in the type of discourse they want us to engage in, the discourse of “clash of civilizations.” Another type of discourse is the notion of immigrant “assimilation and integration” into “our nation.” The discourse of “assimilation and integration” are often poorly defined and appear to mean that especially Muslim immigrants must abandon their religious faith.

    As a Christian (of the Reformed Church) I don’t want “God’s law” ruling our nation. This requires an authority to tell us what is meant by “God’s law” and there are vast differences in this. As a former Catholic, I know of the differences between the Reformed Church and the Catholic church, and they are many. Who then, a rabbi, pastor, parson, presbyter – will determine “God’s law.”

    There people are American Taliban, they want to elect a religious cleric, and would govern the US like the Taliban in Afghanistan. Now – what separates this bunch from the Taliban?

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