Things seem to be going from bad to worse when it comes to tolerance, integrity and decency in American politics. Latest news is that Newt Gingrich, the former speaker, known for his combative politics, ruthlessness and partisanship has climbed to be on top of Donald Trump's short list for vice presidential candidates. That is not good news. Trump, the equal opportunity insulter has narcissistic traits whereas Gingrich has psychopath tendencies. Gingrich is too cunning to insult women or Hispanics or gays.
He will just go after the most vulnerable- the Muslims – and thus avoid the outrage in the media. It was Gingrich who had falsely claimed that the ground zero mosque (which was neither a mosque nor at ground zero) was a symbol of Muslim “triumphalism” and compared it to a Nazi sign next to a Holocaust museum. By this blood libel he had put every Muslim American under threat. Gingrich, a professor of history, was trying to evoke specific images in the minds of American voters to make them fear and hate Muslims. There was no outrage in the media just as there was no outrage at similar demonization of the Muslims by Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee and others.
Newt Gingrich, PhD, has no scruples. He dumped his first wife while she was admitted in a hospital with a diagnosis of cancer, after she had put him through college, graduate school and doctorate program. He then continued to have affairs while married to his second wife at a time when he was projecting himself as the upholder of family values and leading the campaign to impeach Bill Clinton for his affair with Monica Lewinsky. He will manipulate Trump to empower himself by defending and explaining Trump's impulsive statements. Trump knows that Gingrich can allay the fears of the Republican establishment which does not trust Trump’s conservative credentials. Gingrich will also be able to address the concerns of the neoconservatives who consider Trump to be untrustworthy when it comes to supporting Israel. Gingrich means both money and votes for Trump whose campaign has been flailing to raise money and to expand its support base
American Muslims are in for a rough ride. They will continue to be scapegoated by Trump, Gingrich and much of the Republican leadership. There will be enough bad news about bad Muslims to be exploited for votes. Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia will remain destabilized. Extremist groups will remain active in North Africa and Pakistan in spite of the efforts by the governments to defeat them militarily.
Bangladesh has successfully joined the list of nations where a tyrannical corrupt government deliberately creates political vacuum by eliminating mainstream opposition, hoping for ISIS like organizations to emerge and thus make the government acceptable to the West.
Islamophobia. The main reason for their failure is that they have not taken into account the fear psychosis of the masses. History is replete with examples of periods of great instability and flux when demographic shifts take place. No religious, ethnic or linguistic group has been immune from this as no group likes to relinquish its power or rivilege easily, not even in a democracy. America is not only going through a tectonic demographic shift but its economy is not in great shape.
Unless there is a leader such as Justin Trudeau or Bern ie Sanders or even a George Bush who made sure that there was no backlash against American Muslims after 9/11 terrorist attacks, the fear of Muslims will continue to grow in America. Both Trump and Gingrich are more like Milosevic and Modi than Trudeau While most new groups in America such as the Irish, the Italians, the Jews and the Asians were hated, only the Native Americans and African Americans were feared.
Fear overcomes rational thinking and sets in a fight or flight response. When fear stimulates the neurons in the fear centers of amygdale, the higher cortical circuits dealing with rational thinking get dampened. When surrounded by snakes humans are not conditioned to rationally analyze which are poisonous and which are not The fear felt by the common Americans of small towns and rural areas is natural and must be addressed. This fear cannot be addressed by men with accents some of whom are falsely accused of foreign ties or whose organizations have been tried through guilt by association in the right wing media. But these leaders still act as spokespersons to fight on for their basic constitutional rights of free speech and freedom of religion. They have the noble motive of protecting the American way.
They fail because their presence reinforces the mass perception of Muslims as a “foreign religion.” It is about time that American born children of these immigrants along with Black, White and Hispanic Muslim men and women assume a more prominent role in leadership. Even more importantly, it is time that more nonmuslim leaders especially the clergy, come forward to protect the rights of their fellow Muslims as they can better resonate with the fearful masses. Not doing so will allow people like Trump and Gingrich to weaken the pluralist ethos of America and the constitutional rights of all Americans.