But that's not what the Republican political approach to terror has been. It's a political winner! And as such, they want to create maximum fear, maximum xenophobia, because it motivates their crowd. Remember Mitt's incoherent rant on Islam from the campaign?
“We'll move everything to get him [Bin Laden]. But I don't want to buy into the Democratic pitch, that this is all about one person, Osama bin Laden. Because after we get him, there's going to be another and another. This is about Shi'a and Sunni. This is about Hezbollah and Hamas and al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. This is the worldwide jihadist effort to try and cause the collapse of all moderate Islamic governments and replace them with a caliphate. They also probably want to bring down the United States of America. This is a global effort we're going to have to lead to overcome this jihadist effort. It's more than Osama bin Laden. But he is going to pay, and he will die.” '
As Juan Cole asked, “Is he saying that all Muslims of both major branches are his targets, and that he associates them with al-Qaeda?” Well Juan, considering that he and Rudy actively mock any attempt to disentangle those ideas as so much “political correctness”, yeah, I'd say that's pretty much what he's saying.
The irony is that we damn well need moderate Muslims around the globe to help us out in fighting terrorism, since plainly our intelligence adnd language resources are not, cannot be, and would never have been enough by themselves. We cannot do it alone. But every time moderate Muslims across the world hear this crap from major figures in the ruling party, they're just as likely to say “screw you — go get 'em yourself.” Rudy and Romney are playing domestic xenophobic politics to the precise detriment of national security.
Let's be clear: Ironically, Obama has done very little to battle this kind of viciousness, even as he's been the victim of anti-Muslim prejudice wrapped inside lies. Can you imagine if those emails were suggesting that, instead of being a UCC-going guy, he was actually a Methodist? Well then, maybe lying about his religion is not really the problem; it's the bigotry beneath. And Obama has in fact made sure that Muslims are literally out of sight, out of mind on his campaign. Maybe he figures he can only fight that battle on one front at a time, which on a strategic level I can understand. Still, no profiles in courage from him, here.
I don't tend to hear a lot of objection on the left to this kind of stuff — partly because there are always other fires to fight, and because it's perceived that it's not a hearts-and-minds winner of an argument, at least not now. But it cannot be right to leave people of one of the world's largest religious groups — even if a small minority in the US — vulnerable to such hateful rhetoric, without objection from the rest of us.