In 2012, voters were generally more progressive than their elected representatives. Two states legalized recreational use of marijuana. Four states voted in favor of marriage equality. The list goes on. Around the country, voters took matters into their own hands, often over the objections of elected officials.
Simultaneously, right-wing Republicans’ years-long campaign of Islamophobic fear-mongering failed spectacularly at the polls. Around the country, candidates bet on turning out the Republican base with threats of “Sharia law” and “radical Islam.” Voters turned out, but they delivered a resounding rebuke to candidates known for their vituperative anti-Muslim rhetoric.
Underdog challenger Patrick Murphy toppled Allen West by less than 2,500 votes. Congressman West is an Islamophobe so vicious that he stooped to attack the country’s only Muslim Congressman:
West used his time in Congress to press his case that Islam is “not a religion” but a “totalitarian theocratic political ideology,” and that terrorism is inherent to the faith-not radical Islam, but Islam, writ large. He’s accused a fellow Member of Congress, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), a Muslim, of “represent(ing) the antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established.”
In the Arkansas state house, a Republican challenger, Charlie Fuqua, flamed out spectacularly in his race against incumbent James McLean. Fuqua has advocated the deportation of all Muslims.
Also in Florida, state representative Adam Hasner, BFF of infamous Islamophobic nutcase Pamela Geller, lost his Congressional bid. Apparently, voters weren’t convinced by Geller, who accused Hasner’s critics of terrorism:
As for Islamic apologists like Alex Seitz-Wald, it is only a matter of time before he is getting measured for a suicide vest.
Hasner had made headlines in Florida for skipping the state legislature’s opening prayers when they were delivered by an imam. Hasner was also friendly with Geert Wilders, the Western Conservative Summit keynote speaker known for his belief that “moderate Islam” does not exist, and his opposition to the construction of mosques.
Completing a sensible voting trifecta, Florida said no to a school board candidate who promised to keep Muslim speakers out of schools.
Meanwhile, in Illinois, Representative Joe Walsh was defeated by 20-year military veteran and double amputee Tammy Duckworth.
Watch Walsh on video accusing his Muslim neighbors of “trying to kill Americans every week”:
Minnesota representative Chip Cravaak, a key supporter of Representative Peter King’s (R-NY) anti-Muslim hearings, also lost his seat. Regrettably, King himself was reelected, along with national disgrace Michelle Bachmann (R-MN). Bachmann was recently rebuked by John McCain for her Islamophobic comments about Huma Abeydin.
On the national ticket, voters reelected a sitting President with a Muslim-sounding name who was photographed in a kufi and subjected to Islamophobic slander as a result.
In other Muslim-sounding-name news, Maggie Hassan became the nation’s only Democratic female Governor. (She’s a member of the United Church of Christ.)
Here at home, Robert Ramirez piled on the “Obama iz sekrit Mooslem” train and was subsequently defeated. Representative-Elect Tracy Kraft-Tharp ran a spectacular campaign focusing on jobs, education, and common sense. Ramirez indulged in fear-mongering in the election’s final days and lost his seat.
Although nationally notable anti-Islamic crusaders King and Bachmann prevailed, they’ll return to Congress without key allies like West and Cravaak. In a brave, new congressional world, where even Speaker John Boehner has already promised to work with the reelected President Obama, congressional Islamophobia’s moment has passed. If representatives reelected to the 113th Congress continue to push religious discrimination, rather than focusing (as Speaker Boehner has said he’ll do) on avoiding the fiscal cliff and implementing long-term financial reform, their constituents may not forgive them again.