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1 Aug, 2012

Arab Americans Blast Republican Party’s Spread of Xenophobia, Hate & Ignorance


Washington, DC (www.adc.org) July 31, 2012 — The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is appalled at the continued bigotry and racism coming from factions from within the Republican Party, including the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, Governor Willard “Mitt” Romney. On a recent trip to Israel, Romney directed racist and derogatory comments towards Palestinians. Romney’s actions are in line with the xenophobic nature exhibited by factions from within the Republican Party over the past few election cycles.

The failure of the leadership within the Republican Party to eliminate xenophobia from their platform is one of the single biggest reasons the party is losing support amongst minority groups such as Arab Americans. The recent actions of factions from within the Republican Party go against the basic and fundamental foundations which make this country great. By continuing to pander to hatemongers, racists, and bigots, the Republican Party is going down a path that is not only damaging to the party, but will also prove damaging to the nation.

During his speech Romney spewed, “…as you come here and you see the GDP per capita for instance in Israel which is about $21,000 dollars and you compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority which is more like $10,000 dollars per capita, you notice a dramatic, stark difference in economic vitality. If you could learn anything from the economic history of the world it’s this: culture makes all the difference…” Romney also said, “and as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things…” His words indicate that the Palestinian culture is the ‘difference’ to which the extreme economic disparity can be attributed.

His comments fail to recognize the decades-long hold Israel has had on the West Bank and Gaza, and the impact the illegal occupation has had on the economy and people of Palestine. The Israeli government continues to control access to Gaza, despite their 2005 withdrawal from the area; and, has been imposing a debilitating border blockade since Hamas seized the territory in 2007. Further, Palestinians have an extremely limited self-rule over the West Bank, as all border crossings — and therefore overall control of the area — lies in Israeli hands. These are the facts to which the economic disparity should be attributed.

During the same speech Romney promised to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This comment ignores the sensitive nature of Jerusalem, and completely disregards the Palestinians’ claim to the eastern sector of the city.

Earlier this month Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who failed in her bid to be the Republican presidential nominee, alleged that State Department Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Bachmann and her cronies used a strong imagination, and no reasoning at all, to come to their conclusion. The allegations are another example of the use of fear for political gain. While not on a witch-hunt and making a mockery of the US House of Representatives, Bachmann and her husband run Bachmann & Associates, a counseling service which attempts to transform homosexuals into heterosexuals through counseling.

It must be pointed out that voices of reason from within the Republican Party stood up to Ms. Bachmann and made it clear that there is no room for such crusades in the American political system. Long-time Senator John McCain of Arizona blasted Bachmann and her tactics on the Senate floor. A number of leaders from within the party, including Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and the Speaker of the House John Bohener, also stood up against Bachmann and her antics.

Mitt Romney was not one of those voices. In fact John Bolton, one of Romney’s foreign policy advisers, defended Bachmann. Newt Gingrich, another Romney aide, during his failed bid for the Republican nomination, made a simplistic and strange assertion that the Palestinians are an “invented people.” Another Romney foreign policy advisor, Walid Phares, is a well-known Islamophobe who served as a high ranking official in the “Lebanese Front,” a sectarian religious militia responsible for massacres during Lebanon’s brutal, 15-year civil war. He was also part of the “Guardians of Cedar Militia” a group with the slogan ‘Kill a Palestinian and you shall enter Heaven.’

Romney himself has yet to distance himself from such political rhetoric, rather he has continued to engage in shameful tactics, and surrounds himself with extremists, bigots, and racists. Arab Americans, along with minority communities across the country, are deeply troubled and concerned about the racist sentiments coming from within the Republican Party, and call on its leaders, such as Mitt Romney, to take a stand against such tactics and distance themselves from forces of hate in this country.

Now more than ever the United States must unify on all fronts. It is only by working together that we will move this country forward. The voices of hate, bigotry, and xenophobia must not be given a platform in politics, and the onus is on the leaders of the Republican Party to eliminate the hate from their platform and lexicon.

BACKGROUND: The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which is non-profit, non-sectarian and non-partisan, is the largest grassroots Arab-American civil rights and civil liberties organization in the United States. It was founded in 1980 by former Senator James Abourezk. ADC has a national network of chapters and members in all 50 states.

Pictures above (L-R): Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Walid Phares, and John Bolton