الراصد القديم

2012/01/12

SEVEN REASONS TO SAY NO TO GINGRICH

Fuad K. Suleiman, Ph.D.

(Former Speaker Newt Gingrich made many anti-Arab and anti-Muslim statements during his latest foray in presidential politics. His statements are not new political accommodations for he had been making similar ones for many years; moreover, no other Republican has found the courage to challenge Gingrich on the veracity of these statement, their effect on millions of Americans who are of Arab extraction or follow the Islamic religion, or the impact these statements make on scores of foreign governments millions of people around the world.

Here is the reaction of one Arab-American who is also a Muslim. Dr. Suleiman is an Adjunct Visiting Professor of Political Science at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. He holds degrees from Boston University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts and Harvard Universities. fuads@comcast.net; 443-624-1346).



As a Palestinian-American it surprised me that former Speaker Newt Gingrich would characterize nearly eleven million people as an “invented people”; I had never heard of this category applied to any people before and assume that Professor Gingrich would explain just what makes Palestinians so unique. His denial of Palestinian rights alone would give me reason for not voting for the former Speaker had there been no other equally or more compelling reasons. Here are seven reasons why I, a long-term Republican, cannot vote for candidate Gingrich.

Reason One: Gingrich makes Statements without considering their truth or consequences. The Speaker developed a reputation as an “idea man”, but his ideas tend to be, to put it bluntly, half-baked, often unsubstantiated, and frequently devoid of consequences. Examples are legion. He says Arabs and Muslims never contributed anything worthwhile to human civilization. He advocates and predicts a long-term war against “Islamic terror”, but has no plan to pay for such a protracted war. He blames Obama for high gasoline prices during his administration but ignores other factors contributing to high oil prices. He promotes less reliance on fossil fuels but is not willing to support large investments in alternate energy sources. He chastises the Saudis for unexplained crimes against the United States but never says a word about their role in stabilizing the price of crude oil.

Reason Two: Gingrich promises a lengthy religious war. Gingrich identifies Islamic terrorists as one of the five major threats facing America, but in describing the nature of this threat he writes in his book Winning the Future that “we are involved in a civil war with Islam”. To underscore his fight with Islam he would attack any Muslim country since all such countries are part of the war on terror. The war with Islam is long term; he writes “a reasonable estimate will be that this war will last until 2070…an optimist could make a case for winning by 2025 or 2030”. In his fight with Islam the Speaker says that the U.S. cannot rely on the United Nations (it includes China) or even France (has too many leftists) but has to rely on its own military, intelligence, propaganda, and homeland security. He of course expects to win this war on Islam but does not say how or at what cost, nor does he give a second thought to the idea that our grandchildren or their children may not want to continue his war.

Reason Three: Gingrich lives in the Cold-War paradigm and has not learned lessons of Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan. The Speaker peppers his talks with references to how the United States triumphed against the Soviet Union and sees in that a model for counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency. Most scholars of either topic would disagree with the Speaker. The tactics of the cold-war are not of much help against local or global terror; there is no state or international organization coordinating terror efforts; the reasons behind insurgencies are not to be found in an ideology such as socialism. It is doubtful that his view of the end of the cold war is the correct view; Mikhael Gorbachev certainly does not share the Speaker’s interpretation.

Reason Four: Gingrich blurs the line between the State and the Christian Church. The Speaker forgets that the Founding Fathers did not want to create a Christian nation, a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation or indeed any religiously identified kind of a nation. For over two hundred years the majority of citizens have been Christians but a balance was always attempted between the secular and the religious, no matter how difficult that balance has been. One of the strengths of the United States has been the ability of all religions to exist side-by-side, without those in the majority imposing –most of the time anyway- their religious views on others. Even those choosing no organized religion could survive well. Now the Speaker advocates bringing the Church into state matters or as he puts it “Bring God back”. He believes in bringing back the Christian God, as understood by certain Christian sects. He believes that religion is the “fulcrum” of America, and since most Americans are Christians then he equates religion with Christianity.

Reason Five: Gingrich has a selective attitude to the U.S. Constitution. The Speaker seems to have liking for parts of the U.S. Constitution and seems ready to discard any provision that is not to his liking of the moment. Long-held belief in the independence of the judiciary is casually disregarded in the case of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which he wants to abolish, because he does not like some of its decisions although it serves a large area of the country and has judges appointed by both Republican and Democratic presidents.

Reason Six: Gingrich exhibits lack of empathy with the less fortunate. Nothing in the Speaker’s words gives one assurance that he really cares about low income families or minorities. He is on record as wanting to replace social security with personal accounts. There is nothing in his public record that shows that he even understands, never mind feels, poverty and what it does to people. He seems to think that poverty affects only Blacks and Hispanics. He has berated Black children for not understanding the value of work and wants them to help pay for the cost of their education by cleaning their schools, without considering what exposing young students to harmful cleaning chemicals would do, or how their work violates existing law, or how their work then might mean their parents would lose their jobs. None of this matters for he is ready, if needed, to abolish existing child labor-laws which he has termed “stupid”.

Reason Seven: Gingrich is a proto-fascist. If you listen carefully to his rhetoric it is full of statements about extreme nationalism and subjugating the citizen to the state or creating a citizen who does not question the state, all under the guise of liberty and patriotism. At times it is difficult to understand fully what he means by some of his “patriotic” statements. He has in the past spoken of “patriotic immigration”, patriotic citizenship”, “patriotic education”, and “patriotic stewardship”. Yet, he is not consistent in his application of these “patriotic” initiatives. For example: “patriotic stewardship” is advocated for curbing crimes in Black areas but not white populations; dual citizenship is opposed as not patriotic citizenship for Hispanic citizens but no word is said about dual citizens of Israel and the United States.

The Speaker believes that he, and perhaps only he, has the solutions to our ills. I think he would be a disaster as a leader. He likes to compare himself to Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher and likes to take credit for single-handedly defeating the Soviet Union. His dreams for himself are wrong for the country as he is just as wrong when it comes to the Palestinians. Knowing that he also teaches history I cannot help but feel for his students.

Gingrich will pale when compared with President Obama. As you read Obama’s books such as Dreams from My Father and the Audacity of Hope there is little Gingrich-style ego. Reading Obama’s writings one sees much more empathy with the average citizen, thoughtful reflection, self-discovery, and a lot of love for people with immigrant African and Muslim names. The contrast with Gingrich is compelling.

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