…it is your moral and civic duty to make sure that people like U.S. Representative Steve King do not get re-elected. Announcing his intent to run for re-election in Iowa’s Fifth District, King had these choice words on the subject of a potential Barack Obama presidency:
“I don’t want to disparage anyone because of their race, their ethnicity, their name – whatever their religion their father might have been,” he said. “I’ll just say this: When you think about the option of a Barack Obama potentially getting elected President of the United States — I mean, what does this look like to the rest of the world? What does it look like to the world of Islam?”
“Additionally, his middle name (Hussein) does matter,” King said. “It matters because they read a meaning into that in the rest of the world. That has a special meaning to them. They will be dancing in the streets because of his middle name. They will be dancing in the streets because of who his father was and because of his posture that says: Pull out of the Middle East and pull out of this conflict.”
King demonstrates a number of qualities that are pretty emblematic of rural, knee-jerk conservatism: xenophobia, religious intolerance (if a man shouldn’t be judged on his father’s religion, why mention it three times in the space of four sentences?), and the undying belief that there is any useful analogy to be found in America’s great successes in WWI and WWII for the War on Terror.
To win the War on Terror, the United States has to demonstrate that it recognizes the difference between Muslims and fanatic, perverted Extremists. To paint the former with the same brush as the latter is precisely, and I mean precisely, what extremists like Bin Laden are trying to achieve.
What King doesn’t understand is that electing Obama will indeed speak volumes to the world–just not the idiotic, small-minded message King assumes. It will say that the United States, for all its faults, is the kind of place that respects difference and is capable of embracing its diversity. It will also say, to the millions of Muslims who can’t stand the fact that characters like bin Laden and Moqtada al-Sadr have become their unofficial spokesmen in the world, that the United States understands that all faiths and colors are consistent with the values of decency, respect for others, and that the real path to victory comes with marginalizing these actors, not fighting evangelical fire with fire or letting McCain get all Captain Ahab about winning the war that got away.