The headline in Thursday’s New York Times captured the melodrama: “Political Climate of Fear Galvanizes Muslims to Vote.”
Carol Pogash, a freelance writer and editor who earlier this year compared Trump to murderous Communist dictator Mao Tse-Tung, and who finds her own inspiration in Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Larry Wilmore, continued the paper’s never-ending search for Islamophobia with her report about Muslims in Oakland:
After Friday Prayer at the Oakland Islamic Center, Mamoun Kund, a 51-year-old Sudanese-American, sat at a table and did something he had not done in the 11 years he has been a citizen: He registered to vote. Until recently, he had no interest, he said, but now “I hear talk about Muslims, Hispanics and women.”
“It doesn’t make sense,” he added. “Americans aren’t like that.”
These are unsettling times for many American Muslims. “People are losing their sleep,” said Naeem Baig, the president of the Islamic Circle of North America. “The political environment is creating a divide in America” by race, language, gender and religion.
But it has also had an unintended consequence: galvanizing Muslims to vote.
In late December -- after the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., and the call by Donald J. Trump, now the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” -- the United States Council of Muslim Organizations, a national umbrella group, announced plans to register a million voters.
For organizers, the time is ripe for registration.
“It’s hard to encourage people to participate based on good things happening,” said Melissa Michelson, an author of “Mobilizing Inclusion: Transforming the Electorate Through Get-Out-the-Vote Campaigns” and a professor at Menlo College. “Fear and threats are much more powerful motivators.”
Pogash dutifully quoted (twice) the Times’ favorite “civil rights group,” the controversial Council on American-Islamic Relations. (Liberal atheist Sam Harris has stated "I have long considered CAIR to be an Islamist pressure group masquerading as a human rights organization.")
As the general election approaches, Muslim organizations will pay particular attention to swing states, where “several thousand voters have the ability to tip the elections,” said Robert S. McCaw, the director of the government affairs department at the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Representative Keith Ellison, Democrat of Minnesota and one of two Muslims in the House of Representatives, said he had seen anti-Muslim speech “every election cycle.”
But this year, the bigotry has reached a new level, he said.
Mr. Ellison cited a Georgetown University study, “When Islamophobia Turns Violent: The 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections,” which found that in December, when Mr. Trump called for barring Muslims, there were 53 anti-Muslim attacks nationwide, a third of all attacks last year.
Again, the Times ignores corollary figures on anti-Semitic attacks, which remain far more prevalent. The FBI's most recent Hate Crimes Statistics show most "anti-religious hate crimes" involve attacks on Jews: “60.3 percent were victims of crimes motivated by their offenders’ anti-Jewish bias....13.7 percent were victims of anti-Islamic (Muslim) bias...6.1 percent were victims of anti-Catholic bias.”
“The average Muslim is a little desensitized to politicians’ making negative comments about us,” said Corey Saylor, the director of the department to monitor and combat Islamophobia at the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “This time it’s so pervasive and mainstream and, frankly, threatening that a lot of people feel the need to do whatever they can.”
The change in tone has been gradual. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, “the conversation in the mainstream media was that American Muslims are part of America -- we’re in this trouble together,” said Mr. Baig of the Islamic Circle of North America.
But after the San Bernardino shootings, Mr. Trump called for closing mosques and barring Muslims. (He recently amended his statement, saying it was “just a suggestion.”)
Pogash let her California respondents bash as bigoted various other states, presumably conservative Christian ones.
In interviews, many Muslims volunteered that they felt as if they were an “other” in their own country. “People might be born in America, but they feel like a lot of times they’re looked at like ‘other,’ ” Emir Alrashid said, adding that he sometimes felt that way, too. He was born in the United States and served six years in the Marine Corps.
“People see a Muslim sister at a grocery store, and they don’t think she’s an American citizen. They automatically seem to think she’s ‘one of those Muslims,’ even here in the Bay Area,” he said. “I can only imagine how it is in Utah or Mississippi.”
Pogash doesn’t hide her distaste for the Republican nominee, who came under withering criticism in her Times article. She is also the editor of “Quotations from Chairman Trump,” modeled after Mao’s infamous Little Red Book (the joke has also been done with President Lyndon Baines Johnson).
Talking about the book with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in January, Pogash said Trump and the murderous Communist dictator Mao shared some traits: “Trump also has that authoritarian streak.”
Her professional website cites the usual late night liberal TV heroes as her inspiration:
Pogash is editor of Quotations from Chairman Trump (2016) , a collection of Trump quotes from his presidential campaign. The little red book is modeled after Mao, but Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Larry Wilmore were Pogash’s inspirations.