(Read the original at What If They Were Muslim?)
Coexistence is a beautiful thing. It’s the idea that despite our religious or political differences, we can still live side by side as good neighbors in a civilized society. Mainstream Muslims have been promoting coexistence with the Common Word initiative, a letter signed by hundreds of Muslim leaders calling for peace and harmony between Christianity and Islam. One would think such positive developments deserve our support. However, if you’re running for office in the contemporary paranoid landscape of American politics, probably not.
We’ve already reported on the Christian supremacy of Florida’s newest State Representative, Allen West. He had stated previously that he explicitly rejects peaceful coexistence, railing as he would against the popular “Coexist” bumper sticker I have on my car, and calling for a renewed holy war by saying Islam is a “very vile and very vicious enemy that we have allowed to come in this country because we ride around with bumper stickers that say co-exist.” It appears Allen West is willing to back up his loony comments with the appointment of anti-Muslim-in-chief Joyce Kaufman as his new chief of staff.
Kaufman is perhaps best known for her incendiary commentary and promotion of conspiracy theories on her right-wing radio show. She has called for hanging illegal immigrants who commit crimes, has called Democratic opponents “garbage,” said Jews voted for Obama because “they don’t embrace being Jews anymore,”and complained that school textbooks hadn’t sufficiently demonized Islam. So much for civilized discourse. Now, Joyce Kaufman is coming to Washington D.C. to spread her trash talk and race-baiting at the tax-payer’s expense.
Perhaps nothing Kaufman said is more dangerous than her less-than-subtle call for violence if the election didn’t go her way:
“I don’t care how this gets painted by the mainstream media. I don’t care if this ends up on YouTube, because I am convinced that the most important thing the Founding Fathers did to ensure me my First Amendment rights was that they gave me a Second Amendment. And if ballots don’t work, bullets will.”
In America, if you lose an election, the civilized thing to do is to buckle down for the next election. But for Kaufman, losing an election means it’s time to lock and load. This is not the only appeal to “second amendment remedies” we’ve heard from right-wing Tea Party candidates.
Thus, the newly elected Allen West rejects coexistence, has declared war on all Islam (not just violent extremists), and has appointed a shamelessly militant chief of staff. What does this mean for the American Muslim citizens living in Broward county near Palm Beach? Who is going to represent their rights in Washington? What does this say about the state of coexistence in our country? And I cannot help but ask, what if they were Muslim?
Envision, if you could, what would happen if, say, Representative Keith Ellison had ranted against coexistence, declared holy war on Christianity, and had appointed the media’s favorite rent-a-jihadist Anjem Choudry as his chief of staff. If you’ve been paying attention, you know the sight wouldn’t be pretty. Pam Geller would be throwing a ferocious hissy fit. Yet, it seems as if the right-wing isn’t against fascist religious supremacism per se. Muslim fascists we know are very bad, but Christian fascists, well, they get elected. A curious double standard, no?
Which leads me to a serious question: who is more of a threat? Keith Ellison and the Sharia boogeyman? Or the recent rise in right-wing militant extremists and their firebrand rhetorical enablers like Joyce Kaufman? For those actually in charge of securing this country, the answer is clear as day.
After the revelations of the insane things that Joyce Kaufman has said and called for the pressure seems to have gotten to the Allen West camp. Kaufman “turned down” the offer to be his chief of staff.
Note: This article is part of our “What if they were Muslim?” series. In this series, we examine the double standards used by anti-Muslim activists when discussing religious extremism in Islam as compared to other religions. We reject using extremists of any religion to justify prejudice, stereotypes, and hostility towards all members of that religion. Period.