Thursday, January 3, 2013

Has the GOP reached peak anti-Muslim?

Adam Serwer and Tim Murphy have the reporting. First, just in case you didn't think Herman Cain was really as crazy as he appeared, there's this:

One private intervention came during the summer of 2011, when then-GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain attended one of Norquist's weekly, off-the-record breakfasts, a gathering for DC's conservative elite. The assembled big-shots were disturbed by some of Cain's comments on the campaign trail about Muslims. A Think Progress reporter had captured him boasting that he would never appoint a Muslim as a member of his cabinet. Weeks later Cain had argued that cities like Murfreesboro, Tennessee—where activists were attempting to block a new Islamic center—should be allowed to outlaw the construction of mosques.

"It really bothers me when you say this, because that's scary," Norquist recalls one of the participants, who was Jewish, saying. Cain sought to reassure his hosts that only Muslims would be subjected to a loyalty test before serving in his administration. "Oh no, not Jews—just Muslims,'" he said. But Norquist's other guests were insistent: "You're not getting it."

After the meeting, Cain's tone shifted noticeably. He took a much-publicized visit to a mosque in Northern Virginia to make amends.

That's pretty freaking nuts. But I'm encouraged by Norquist and his group's ability to temper Cain's and other conservatives' anti-Muslim public sentiments. Losing elections certainly helps quell such things. But at least some people within the conservative movement recognized it wasn't a smart thing to do.

Adam and Tim seem to suggest we have reached the peak of anti-Muslim sentiment in the GOP. Who knows? They're certainly correct that it won't go away overnight. Politicians may be less weary of making public statements. But there is still FoxNews, which is always in search of a "controversy" that it can use to fill up the news cycle and give it's pundits something to blather on about.

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