GOP Candidates Hype Fear Of Muslims

Fanned by Republican presidential candidates, our country is slowly approaching a 21st-century version of the Red Scare. Since the Paris attacks and the response from GOP candidates, many have pointed to parallels between Joe McCarthy in the 1950s and the way candidates are responding to extremist terrorism today.

The Wisconsin Republican Senator had eerily similar traits to many who are well-positioned in the Republican primary race. McCarthy was a popular fixture in Washington politics, but was considered short-tempered and prone to rage. He was also disliked by many of his colleagues in the Senate.

Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are aping him.

Fellow Republican Senators are widely known to have a strained relationship with Cruz, and Trump definitely conveys McCarthy’s rage and temper. A full analysis of the extent to which this rising fear of Muslims mirrors the development of the Red Scare would take much more than a column to assess, but signs are emerging that suggest a period of overzealous fear.



Paul Krugman points to Trump’s rise in the polls following the Paris attacks and putting forward outlandish plans for curbing the constitutional rights of Muslim Americans. Sections of the electorate have always seemed predisposed to latch onto hatred of a specific group and in 2015, unfortunately, this is still the case.

Trump’s and others’ broad discriminatory policies are reminiscent of laws used in the 1940-'50s to root out the so-called Reds --- for example, the Smith Act -- which forced all immigrants to be documented on a federal register, along with establishing penalties for anti-American activity.

No surprise, other GOP candidates have toed the same anti-Islamic line, pointing to increased or re-emerging overt xenophobia among conservative voters.

Left-leaning pundits have been quick to highlight George W. Bush’s comments following the 9/11 attacks: “The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them.”

The comments we now see from leading Republican candidates are frighteningly disconnected from Bush’s statements, including Ben Carson and Donald Trump inventing events about 9/11 and the reaction from Muslims.

Ted Cruz, being a better politician than the front-runners, has been able to veil his attacks, an ability coined perfectly by Slate in its article “Ted Cruz’s Sophisticated Bigotry.”

Let’s hope these plans never come to fruition.

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