Politics

10.14.13

Rand Paul's Muslim-Bashing Speech

The Tea Party senator’s attack on Muslims was nothing short of ‘hate speech,’ says Dean Obeidallah, who compares Rand Paul’s words to the bad arguments and vitriol used by al Qaeda recruiters.

Was Rand Paul’s most recent, big set-piece speech about A. The government shutdown; B. The debt limit; or C. The dreaded Obamacare? Nope, it was none of them. Instead, Paul spent his 19-minute speech at the Value Voters summit on Friday talking about Muslims.

Now, I’m Muslim and I love attention - so on some level I’m happy when people talk about Muslims.  But despite what some may tell you, not all press is good press. And in the case of Rand Paul’s speech – it was awful press for Muslims.  In fact, by the end of  Paul’s talk, he had almost convinced me to hate Muslims.

Instead, his speech made me realize just how desperately Rand Paul wants to be President. Paul opened his speech with an attention grabbing line:  “From Boston to Zanzibar, there is a worldwide war on Christianity.”

Now, I thought he would be talking the typical fare: “war on Christmas,” Obama wants you to take birth control, gay people have the audacity to want to get married, etc.

But nope. Paul quickly made it clear that the war on Christians is being waged by Muslims.  How did he support this theory?  He would cite isolated actions by a few Muslims in various countries.  In fact, in the cases of Boston and Zanzibar, Paul noted the actions of two Muslims in each location to support his thesis that there are up to a “100 million” Muslims who want to slaughter Christians.

Of course, there was no mention by Paul of the Muslims in Pakistan who recently gathered by the hundreds, locking arms and encircling a church to protect Christians from radicals. Nor did Paul mention that these so-called Muslim terrorists overwhelmingly slaughter more Muslims than people of other faiths.  Indeed, Muslims have been the victims of “between 82 and 97 percent of terrorism-related fatalities over the past five years.”

Look, I get why Paul is desperate. He very badly wants to be President. But it’s not going well.

And then Paul, in an amazing feat of intellectual gymnastics, told the audience that the war on Christianity had come to America. Where you ask? Well, Paul deemed the Boston marathon bombing to have been perpetrated, “not against our government but against us as a people, a Christian people.”

Okay, this raises a big question: Does Paul believe that the Tsarnaev brothers, who allegedly had committed that attack and who had lived for years in the Boston area. couldn’t find a church in Boston? I don’t know if Paul has ever been to the city, but there are churches everywhere.   Clearly, if those two wanted to target Christians, they could have easily bombed a church as opposed to targeting a marathon that attracts runners from over 90 countries

But it seems that to Paul, any attack on America is an attack on Christianity because America is a Christian nation, just as Saudi Arabia is a Muslim nation. 

Now in fairness, Paul did use about a minute of his speech to acknowledge that many Muslims are peaceful. He even stated that he hoped that the faith could one day return to a time where Muslims valued, “the scientific method over fanaticism.”

But then Paul’s rhetoric truly became alarming.  He warned the audience that while we wait for Muslims to return to being peaceful: “Christians should be prepared for war…” He did also add that they should, “pray for peace,” but that seemed secondary to his literal call to arms.

Paul’s speech is likely a mirror image of one that would be given by an al Qaeda recruiter.  The difference being that an al Qaeda leader would cite isolated bad actions committed by the West and claim these incidents were proof that the West was waging an all out war on Islam.

Let’s be brutally honest: If Rand Paul had given a 19 minute speech listing every bad act committed by Jews anywhere in the world under the guise of “warning” people about Jews, he would rightfully be dubbed an Anti-Semite.  Or if Paul had given a similar speech setting forth a litany of crimes committed by African-Americans in the US as defining that race, he would be deemed a racist.

But when a speech is given like this about Muslims- it’s somehow seen as simply being “politically incorrect.” No, it's not. It’s hate-just as if it would be if it was directed at Jews, Blacks, gays or any minority group.

Look, I get why Paul is desperate.  He very badly wants to be President. But it’s not going well.  He was publicly smacked down this past summer by Chris Christie, one of his chief rivals for the Republican presidential nomination.  And Paul has recently been overshadowed by Ted Cruz. All you need to do is check out Paul’s speech from last year’s summit which focused solely upon his faith and outlook on life to realize that the stakes have changed for him. 

To Paul, this speech was sort of a fear mongering “Hail Mary” speech. But it failed. Paul came in fourth in the Value Voters straw poll.

My hope is that Rand Paul now recognizes that even the most conservative Americans want to hear about policy, not polemics. They want answers, not accusations.

The question is: Did Rand Paul get the message? I, for one, hope he did.