Don’t Be Concern Trolled: Tulsi Gabbard Is No Islamophobe
As we discussed earlier, establishment Dems are deeply threatened by the growing popularity of Gabbard’s opposition to America’s plutocratic wars and military industrial complex, and party loyalists everywhere are obediently regurgitating the propaganda they’re being fed regarding the surging Hawaiian congresswoman. There are a number of smear pieces being circulated in the comments section of each and every positive story that pops up about Gabbard; some of them criticize her for her past religious affiliations, some of them criticize her for her failure to support gay marriage sooner than she did, but most of them focus on the bizarre argument that the legislator who’s fighting harder than anyone else to end America’s bloodbaths in Muslim-majority countries is an Islamophobe. I’ll be focusing on the latter argument here.
The surprisingly hip Oxford English Dictionary defines a concern troll as “A person who disingenuously expresses concern about an issue with the intention of undermining or derailing genuine discussion.” If you’re on a feminist forum and some guy comes on saying he totally totally supports gender equality, but maybe feminism would be better served if the women involved were less fiery and impassioned in the way they share their personal stories of rape and abuse, you’re dealing with a concern troll. Same thing when an online conversation about how awesome Tulsi Gabbard is gets infiltrated by someone saying, “Hmm, yeah, well she sure looks nice, but how much do we really know about her?”, generally followed with a link to some pro-establishment smear piece accusing her of hating Muslims.
This behavior disgusts me. Deeply.
You could not ask for a more perfect illustration of the reprehensible way the neoliberal establishment manipulates the good intentions of progressives to leverage them into supporting its evil practices than this particular attack on Tulsi Gabbard. These monsters routinely push for these unfathomably destructive regime change wars which kill untold hundreds of thousands of Muslims, cause the displacement and suffering of untold millions more, causing extremist factions to arise because, guess what, nobody makes a better terrorist recruit than a war orphan. Watching your loved one get ripped to shreds by American cluster munitions has a strange way of tainting one’s attitude toward the merits of western democracy. So these neoliberals destroy Muslim-majority nations, which creates Islamic extremists, then they arm those very extremists to help them destabilize other governments the neoliberals want deposed, and then they accuse a Congresswoman of Islamophobia because she keeps talking about Islamic extremism when standing against all these evil policies.
Ugh. Gimme a minute, my eye’s twitching.
Can we make a new rule, please? If you support a political establishment that routinely butchers countless Muslims, you don’t get to accuse anyone of Islamophobia, because you’re the worst of the bunch. And you certainly don’t get to accuse someone of Islamophobia when they’re standing against your party’s psychopathic military rampages. This applies equally to both establishment Democrats and neocons, which are becoming increasingly indistinguishable. (Ha! I snuck it in.)
“Gabbard has shown utmost concern and respect for our community, the Syrian people and for all new Americans, which is why so many Syrians at home and in the U.S. support her tireless efforts to bring peace to Syria.”
~ Salah Zakkour, a Sunni Muslim Syrian-American from Aleppo
Tulsi Gabbard is not an Islamophobe. She is on record saying, and I quote, “The majority of Muslims are practicing the spiritual path of Islam within their own lives in a pluralistic, peaceful way. So by calling organizations like ISIS Islamic or Islamist extremists, we are making a distinction between the vast majority of Muslims who are not extremists and a handful of those who are.”
There is no possible way you can twist this into being something that an Islamophobic person would say. It’s stupid to make sweeping generalizations about a religion of nearly two billion people, and also you cannot address the problem without addressing the problem. The neoliberal establishment doesn’t dislike this because they love Muslims, they dislike this because they know they are the problem. They’re the ones starting the wars and creating the Islamic extremists that they then arm and manipulate for money and power, and Gabbard is standing up to them and shining a big bright light on their evil behavior.
Tulsi Gabbard has Muslim defenders and donors who recognize that ending America’s savage regime change wars would be one of the most beneficial things that could possibly happen for the Islamic world. She has endorsed Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison for DNC Chair, spoken out unequivocally against anti-Muslim bigotry by Republicans from Donald Trump to Ben Carson to Lindsey Graham, and championed legislation in support of immigration from Iraq and Afghanistan, including speaking on the House floor. One of the beneficiaries of this legislation made the following comment on Gabbard’s Facebook page:
She cosponsored H.Res.569 – Condemning violence, bigotry, and hateful rhetoric towards Muslims in the United States. She spoke out passionately when a Muslim Sufi was killed by terrorists, praising Muslims who work toward peace and moderation. The only possible argument against her has been her defense of and meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been accused (some say unfairly) of bearing heavy responsibility for the government’s failures in dealing with the gruesome Gujarat riots in 2002, while he was Chief Minister of that state.
The fact that Modi is said to have allowed violence against Muslims by Hindus in those riots is cited in some of these anti-Gabbard smear pieces as evidence of her Islamophobia, but this makes no sense in light of everything else we know about Gabbard’s healthy attitude toward Islam and Muslims. Gabbard said in an interview with Quartz that she opposed the US government’s decision to deny Modi a visa because she saw it as a diplomatic blunder and a missed opportunity to “cover mutually beneficial ground such as defense, renewable energy, bilateral trade, and global environmental concerns such as climate change.” Gabbard has met with Modi, but she’s also had friendly meetings with members of his opposition like Shashi Tharoor and Rajeev Gowda, so all in all it’s a truly immense stretch to paint her association with India’s Prime Minister as indicative of a negative attitude toward Islam.
So there you go; feel free to throw this article in anyone’s face who tries to make that insipid argument against this amazing woman in the future. If people want to dismiss a legitimate, honest-to-God anti-war, pro-environment, pro-progress Democrat because of her religious past or because she was a little too slow to support same-sex marriage, then fine, whatever; honestly our movement is probably better off without people whose priorities are so screwed up. But if they dismiss her as someone who hates Muslims, they’re just plain wrong. And if they dismiss her as an Islamophobe while supporting the Muslim-slaughtering Democratic establishment, they are not just wrong, they are despicable.