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Friday, Feb 1, 2008, 1:28 pm

Muslim-baiting in the general

By Adam Doster
In this Salon column, the estimable Juan Cole suggests that Republican's penchant for Muslim-baiting could be disastrous in the general election, for reasons I find somewhat convincing.
Why might all this rhetoric targeting Muslims be unwise? For one thing, allowing the Christian conservative base to set an agenda that demonizes Muslims contains the danger of turning off more moderate segments of the GOP and American voters at large. McCain's comment on the importance of a president's being Christian appeared to have backfired on him in precisely that way.

But his support, which lies in the results of the GOP primary race thus far, remains a little light. Sure, Rudy spoke of "Islamic fascists" at every turn, but his campaign took a nose dive for unrelated reasons -- an outrageously stupid campaign strategy where he ignored early states was perhaps the biggest goof. And the front-runner, whose campaign has built loads of momentum, isn't immune to Muslim fear-mongering either. This video and this quote come to mind.

We know the GOP primary voters dig nativism and constant war. I think the rest of the country, moderates included, don't. But I'd like to see some more evidence.

Adam Doster, a contributing editor at In These Times, is a Chicago-based freelance writer and former reporter-blogger for Progress Illinois.

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