Tea Party icons Newt Gingrich and Glenn Beck have recently been going into overdrive in terms of the scale of their extremism. During the past few weeks, there has been considerable controversy over Fox News contributor, senior Republican politician, and potential candidate for the 2012 presidential election Newt Gingrich in particular due to the following remarks he made about US President Barack Obama:
Citing a recent Forbes article by Dinesh D’Souza, former House speaker Newt Gingrich tells National Review Online that President Obama may follow a “Kenyan, anti-colonial” worldview. Gingrich says that D’Souza has made a “stunning insight” into Obama’s behavior — the “most profound insight I have read in the last six years about Barack Obama.”
D’Souza’s remarks: “Incredibly, the U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s. This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions, is now setting the nation’s agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son. The son makes it happen, but he candidly admits he is only living out his father’s dream. The invisible father provides the inspiration, and the son dutifully gets the job done. America today is governed by a ghost”.
The incredible irrationality (or open bigotry – take your pick) of levelling such accusations against an individual who was not only born in the US but has actually spent very little time indeed in Kenya is obviously self-evident, most of all because Barack Obama met his father only once and was just 10 years old at the time.
Furthermore, using the term “anti-colonial” as an intended “insult” is particularly bizarre, considering the original ideological basis for the creation of the United States of America via the War of Independence and the fact that America’s own Founding Fathers were forcefully opposed to colonialism. Gingrich has subsequently refused to retract his remarks, and has repeated the ‘defence’ that “His [Obama’s] father was from Kenya”. To add insult to injury, he also made references to “Third World mentality” – again, remember that in the case of Barack Obama himself, this is someone who is not actually from the ‘Third World’ at all.
The usage of the term “tribesman” in relation to Obama’s father also panders to negative stereotypes about Africans, bearing in mind that Obama Sr actually received his postgraduate education at Harvard and eventually worked as an economist for the Kenyan Ministry of Finance. Furthermore, it would be unwise for both Newt Gingrich and Dinesh D’Souza to use such an “armchair psychology” approach, considering the possible conclusions that could be reached if the tables were turned and their own behaviour & ancestral backgrounds were similarly “analysed”. Incidentally, the Indian-born D’Souza, whose ancestral roots lie in the former Portuguese colony of Goa, is a convert from Roman Catholicism to Evangelical Christianity whose previous romantic relationships included the right-wing American demagogues Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham.
Gingrich’s description of President Obama as “authentically dishonest” is similarly a poor choice of words, considering that Gingrich was the first Speaker of the House to ever be disciplined for unethical conduct by the House of Representatives. And he has even admitted to cheating on his own wife while he was simultaneously leading the Republican attacks against President Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky affair.
A selection of examples of Newt Gingrich’s previous remarks
· Newt Gingrich has an extensive history of bigoted and racially-inflammatory rhetoric.
· Gingrich claims that the Tea Party is “likely to end up as the militant wing” of the Republican Party.
· Gingrich has appeared on Glenn Beck’s radio show and claimed that the Obama Administration is trying to “end….America as it has been for the last 400 years”.
· Gingrich claims that Obama and his administration are threatening America as much as Nazi Germany did; he also compared the “secular, socialist machine” to Nazi Germany. The latter analogy in particular has been publicly condemned by the American Jewish Committee as “diminishing the horror of the Holocaust”
· Gingrich claims that the greatest battle for America “since the Civil War” is underway. Coincidentally, former US president Jimmy Carter recently said on Larry King Live on CNN that Obama is currently having to deal with the most hostile environment of any president in American history, and that even Abraham Lincoln didn’t face this scale of hostility in the run-up to the American Civil War.
· Gingrich has formed a group called “Renewing American Leadership [ReAL]”, which has ties with the “Black Robe Regiment”, a conservative political-religious group recently promoted by Glenn Beck. ReAL was created to “preserve America’s Judeo-Christian heritage” and involve Evangelical Christians in America’s political process. Readers should note that, in reality, not only does the US Constitution explicitly emphasise the separation of Church and State, but Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli – signed directly by the Founding Father & 2nd US president John Adams in 1797, and unanimously approved by Congress – explicitly states that “as the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion…..it has in itself no character of enmity towards the laws, religion, or tranquillity of Musselmen [ie. Muslims]”.
· Gingrich has compared the Cordoba Initiative’s Park 51 to “Nazis….putting up a sign next to the Holocaust museum”. This is a disgusting example of ascribing collective guilt, not least because the American Sufis involved in the Corboda Initiative have explicitly stated that they are enemies of Al-Qaeda (and in the case of key figures like Imam Rauf, they’ve actually been involved in assisting both the Bush Administration and the current Obama Administration in anti-Islamist-extremism efforts). Furthermore, such public statements sabotage the American government and military’s ongoing efforts to “win hearts and minds” in the Muslim world; for example, it becomes difficult to convince the latter that America is not hostile towards Muslims if a very senior Republican politician is openly claiming that Muslims by default are effectively like Nazis. I doubt that America’s own Muslim citizens are particularly happy to find themselves described in such terms either. It also reinforces Al-Qaeda’s distorted propaganda that America is an enemy of Islam and that Muslims en masse are a persecuted group worldwide.
· Gingrich also claims that there should be no mosques near Ground Zero until there are “churches in Saudi Arabia”, thereby effectively stating that the US should duplicate Wahhabi Saudi Arabian attitudes towards minority places of worship and, to make matters even worse, penalise American citizens for – and hold them hostage to – the actions of foreign governments & foreign terrorists purely because they’re affiliated with superficially the same religion (even if they’re from very different “denominations”).
· Gingrich has made a bizarre threat that American judges who “use Sharia to interpret the Constitution will not remain in office”……even though there is no history of any American judge ever having done this.
An associated article focusing on Glenn Beck will be published tomorrow.
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Filed in: Media,Muslim,Party politics,Religion,United States