Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The GOP Should Distance Itself From The Absurd Conspiracy Theories

I posted on Platform 10 a few months ago about how the Republican fringe was becoming the Republican mainstream in the States.

Obama's election has provoked a fair few conspiracy theories about the man who could prove to be the greatest domestic reformer in the US since LBJ.  Obama is, according to the conspiracy theorist you are talking to, a 'Socialist' (this normally removes any respect of the conspiracy theorist's knowledge of political philosophy) or that he was born outside the US (utter nonsense but the birther movement as it has become known has the support of over 40% of people who self identify themselves as Republican.)

Another conspiracy theory reared its ugly head recently when the GOP new media director tweeted this:


This is a particularly pernicious conspiracy theory.  It is worth remembering the words of Colin Powell when endorsing Obama in 2008 (via Mehdi Hassan at the New Statesman blog):

I'm also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to [say] such things as, "Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim." Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, "He's a Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists." This is not the way we should be doing it in America.
I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son's grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards -- Purple Heart, Bronze Star -- showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn't have a Christian cross, it didn't have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith.
And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life. Now, we have got to stop polarising ourselves in this way. And John McCain is as non-discriminatory as anyone I know. But I'm troubled about the fact that, within the party, we have these kinds of expressions.

This is one of the best of many good reasons why the Republican Party should distance itself from these absurd conspiracy theories.

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