Embracing hysterical paranoia

Reverend Rand PaulRand Paul’s strategic Islamophobia

By , Friday, Oct 11, 2013 12:57 PM CDT


For normal Americans, the annual Values Voters Summit is an opportunity to take a look at the Republican Party and be appalled and amused at how vehemently anti-modernity and hysterically bigoted it remains despite basically all demographic trends. For Republican politicians, it is an opportunity to say crazy stuff to adoring crowds in the hopes of riding their enthusiasm and donations all the way to second or third place in the next Republican presidential primary campaign. Sen. Rand Paul today addressed the summit, and he wanted everyone to know that while he may have a bit of a “peacenik” reputation, he definitely hates Islam just as much as the people who want to bomb the Middle East forever.


Paul’s speech (which greatly resembles one he gave to an evangelical audience last June) hit nearly every toxic fixation and delusion of the evangelical Right. He generously indulged the persecution fantasy that fuels so much of the modern conservative movement, claiming that “there’s a worldwide war on Christianity,” waged largely by Islam, but also by “liberal elites.” It is “a war that the mainstream media is ignoring,” he said. Mainstream media liberals are too scared and too PC to say it, but Paul wasn’t: We must blame Muslims more or less as a homogeneous undifferentiated mass.

Ever since 9/11, commentators have tried to avoid pointing fingers at Islam, which is somewhat fair. It is fair to point out that most Muslims are not committed to violence against Christians, but it’s not the whole truth. The whole truth is – and we shouldn’t let political correctness stand in the way of this truth – the whole truth is that there is a minority of Muslims who condone killing of Christians, but, unfortunately, that minority number is in the tens of millions.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: That’s right.

The entire speech was like this, really: Bits of “reasonable” rhetoric awkwardly jammed against Pamela Geller-style accusations of collective guilt. Plus a bit of subtle insinuation against President Obama, who, Paul explained, keeps insisting on arming radical extremist Muslims dedicated to wiping out Christianity. (Why would he do that? Where do his true sympathies lie, exactly?)

And after all this fear-mongering, Paul said that waging “conventional wars” against the Great Muslim Menace would be impossible and probably counter-productive. Paul’s Islamophobia, like his endorsement of the “worldwide war on Christianity” fantasy, seems more “strategic” than sincere. (Obviously, that does not make it any more justifiable.) His point is to make his restrained foreign policy fit into the existing right-wing Republican mainstream. The arguments used to sell evangelical conservatives on Republican foreign policy are generally based on fear of or hatred for the Islamic world, and religious attachment to the state of Israel. Paul’s argument is that the truly pro-Israel, anti-Islam foreign policy would be one in which we largely stop engaging in the region, instead of sending aid (always politically unpopular) to “good” Islamic countries and waging war against “bad” ones.

Paul’s been quietly making himself acceptable to the “conservative mainstream” (by which I mean the right wing of the right wing, but not the insurrectionist destroy-the-party Cruz wing) for a while now. Look at Paul’s near-complete absence from the shutdown and debt-limit circus. He’s said the requisite crazy nonsense about the debt limit, but he’s purposefully limited his participation in the intentional disaster.

This is all rather obviously being done with a presidential run in mind (and I beg your forgiveness for talking about 2016 in 2013, but it’s sort of the point of the Values Voters Summit). It seems like his calculation is this: In 2016, as always, there’s going to be a “mainstream” guy and a more “pure conservative” evangelical guy. The “mainstream” guy — backed by the donor class, hopefully acceptable to non-crazy voters — is probably already Christie or maybe Jeb Bush. Usually the “mainstream” guy wins, but Paul is likely hoping a bit of the Paul rEVOLution cult fanaticism helps him do what Huckabee and Santorum couldn’t. Will it work? It’s certainly savvier than Cruz’s plan, which is “go into 2016 beloved by a marginal activist base but loathed by every powerful person in the party.”

The Republican Party will not suffer a Whigs-like collapse in the next three years (sorry!), so embracing hysterical paranoia about the entire Muslim world is still a pretty risk-free way to establish your conservative cred without pissing off anyone important in Republican politics. The only question is whether “hate them but don’t necessarily bomb them” will beat out “bomb them for their own good.”

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of “The Rude Guide to Mitt.”


http://www.salon.com/2013/10/11/rand_pauls_strategic_islamophobia/ or http://bit.ly/165Ccvj

Photograph (modified) of Senator Rand Paul (KY), by Matthew Healey (UPI).  http://northiowatoday.com/2013/03/09/rand-paul-says-he-may-run-for-president/

Related Posts

And we better wake up President's fine words may not address the Middle East's real needs By Robert Fisk, Thursday, 19 May 2011 ... OK, so here's what President Bara...
Islamophiliac?   Pamela Geller: American patriot or extremist firebrand? By Robert Chalmers, Sunday, 15 May 2011 ... Among the many new things I have learnt ...
Xenophobic panic "Conservatism Is True." By Andrew Sullivan, 16 Jun 2011 09:57 PM ... It's funny that Fareed Zakaria and I are now seen as beyond the conservati...
Historians and other nincompoops Whoa there, David Cameron! Haste and rhetoric is no recipe for peace By Robert Fisk, Sunday 22 November 2015 19:28 BST   Eisenhower famous...
Funny things Dear editor, This is a letter about funny things. A random collection perhaps, but some readers may discern a veritable fountain of flummery, deep ...
None of this is new The Road to “All Muslims are Terrorists” By Gefilte, 07 July 2011 ... It’s been travelled before. Aside from the fact that real democracies ...
Megalomessianic meddling 300 Goats and Sheep, 20 Slaughterers, One Willful Rabbi By Nathan Jeffay, April 13, 2011 (issue of April 22, 2011) Jerusalem — Making Seder for ...
Patronizing myths die hard Arabs Give Neocons a Reality Check By James Zogby, 04/16/11 09:44 AM ET ... While much of what has come to be known as "the Arab Spring" remain...
Peace will come with justice The cult of atheist Zionism posing as Judaism By Rich Siegel, January 1, 2012   This essay was first published in Beyond Tribal Loyalties:...
Hands-off relationship with the truth Sebastian Gorka, the West Wing's Phony Foreign-Policy Guru By Bob Dreyfuss, August 10, 2017   The Breitbart News headline, back in Novembe...

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2013/10/13/embracing-hysterical-paranoia/

1 comment

    • Mike Nunn on October 13, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Well, based on the letters in today’s paper he would have a large audience here. The lack of knowledge exhibited some local citizens is appalling.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.