Why Aren’t American Right-Wingers and Islamic Hardliners BFFs?
Illustration by Shelby Hohl
Donald Trump has ridden a lot of different ponies on his way to the Republican nomination for president at the convention in Philadelphia. He’s got his wall, his jingo lingo, and his appeal to a fictional past time when America was supposedly greater than it is now.
The one that’s gotten him perhaps the furthest, though, is his continued insistence that banning foreign Muslims from entering the United States is the best way to deal with a possible terrorist attack. A lot of folks thought that maybe this hyperbolic bit of bigotry was just far-right primary shenanigans, but since the shooting at the Pulse night club (by a Muslim who was actually born here, but whatevs), he’s only doubled down on the idea. Possibly because Trump knows the prevailing political wisdom is that fear of attack is about the only thing that will let him beat Clinton.
The thing is, right-wingers eat this stuff up like mac-and-cheese. At least one poll showed that Trump voters dislike Muslims to the tune of 67 percent. My question is, why? Why does Trump and his collection of methed-up malcontents hate the idea of violent Fundamentalist Muslims coming to America? They make such good allies for each other.
American right-wingers love them some gun ownership, and so do hardline Muslim countries. Of the six countries following after with the most guns per capita, half of them (Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Iraq) are Muslim majority that tend towards far-right political values.
And certainly it looks like both groups feel that using those guns to wage ideological massacres is a fine idea. There’s little substantive difference between the rampage Robert Lewis Dear launched on a Planned Parenthood facility and Omar Mateen’s massacre at the Pulse. After Mateen’s hastily pledged allegiance to ISIS during the shooting, the group was happy to give his corpse a shout out, and Twitter was abuzz with support for Dear after his own.
You know what else they have in common? They don’t seem to read their own holy texts all that well. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life tested Americans on basic tenets of Christianity, and most scored 50 percent, a failing grade. Most telling, it was the atheists and the agnostics that scored the highest, meaning those most invested in the Good Book aren’t necessarily doing their own reading. Likewise, the modern terrorist claiming to commit heinous acts in the name of Islam, is usually a radical looking for an ideology to twist into violence, not the other way around. They don’t devoutly read the Quran and go off the rails into mayhem. They’re already trouble and willing to cherry pick a religion to justify it.
ISIS hates LGBT people so hard that if it were an Olympic event they’d have brought home the gold from Rio. They want to punish gays caught being gay with death. Meanwhile over here, we have Pastor Kevin Swanson is saying that we should execute gays. Twice. He’s not just some random nobody, either. He hosted Freedom 2023 where we had three Republican presidential candidates attend. Heavy weights like sitting Senator Ted Cruz, then-sitting Governor Bobby Jindal, and former Governor Mike Huckabee. Well, at least those guys didn’t win, right? Nope, it was Trump, whose stance on LGBT (and everything else really) is as inconsistent as a child’s first attempt at cake batter. However, Trump did pick Mike Pence to be his tag team partner, and that cat is in love with the idea of walking back any gains made by the LGBT community over the last generation.
Hey, here’s a fun one for my fellow parents out there! The hardline conservatives in this country absolutely adore the idea of cutting liberal arts out of the schools. After all, we wouldn’t want a child to discover the joy of artistic creation. Those people make bad drones. I don’t know what ISIS’ motivations are, but their results are the same. No music, no humanities, no philosophy. If we assume that ISIS is more interested in creating a bubble for their radical religious beliefs, well, I got bad news for Texans. Our textbooks are being written as much as possible by the far right of this country for the exact same reason.
Well, at least our wingnuts aren’t for public executions. Except for that time West Virginia House of Delegates member Mike Folk said Hillary Clinton should be publicly hanged and when Donald Trump sort of implied that someone publicly shooting Clinton would be a great way to stop her appointing a Supreme Court Justice. That’s just political hyperbole in a presidential election, though, right? Hey, let’s all forget the time Republican Maine Governor Pau LePage literally said he wanted to cut off the heads of drug dealers in public. Another North Carolina Republican lawmaker called for a return to public hangings as well.
The hard right in this country’s moral high ground over the spectre of ISIS and other boogeymen in Muslim trappings is slender to the point of a margin of error. Both ideologies tend towards authoritarian brutality and a desire to destroy the other. It’s increasingly hard to tell the difference between the two.
by Jef Rouner