Huckabee Bashes Pakistanis for Cheap Votes
In the first caucus of this election cycle, Iowans voted for change. Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee -- the candidates running on a platform for change -- received the most votes while Hillary Clinton and John McCain -- the candidates viewed as Washington insiders -- both came in third place, according to MPAC.
Meanwhile, despite being the Republican who raised the most amount of money in Iowa in the third quarter ($45,930), former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani only received 3% of votes. In what was perhaps an embarrassment for Mayor Giuliani, Congressman Ron Paul and Fred Thompson received more votes with less money.
While Muslim Americans should be optimistic that the Iowa caucus results indicate that xenophobia and Islamophobia on the campaign trail are not effective in winning votes, we hope the steady stream of racist and intolerant statements from candidates in both parties comes to a halt. In the name of national security, we've already witnessed Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and John McCain deploy anti-Muslim rhetoric and fear-mongering for their own political gain.
Unfortunately, we can now add Mike Huckabee to that list. Last week in Florida, he told reporters, "We ought to have an immediate, very clear monitoring of our borders and particularly to make sure if there's any unusual activity of Pakistanis coming into the country."
Huckabee tried to capitalize on the volatile situation in Pakistan after Benazir Bhutto's assassination, and ended up concocting an absurd argument for building fences along the US-Mexico border.
And it only got worse when he tried to explain his comments on the Iowa campaign trail:
"When I say single them out, I am making the observation that we have more Pakistani illegals coming across our border than all other nationalities except those immediately south of the border."
"...In light of what is happening in Pakistan it ought to give us pause as to why are so many illegals coming across these borders."
Rather than retracting his comments, Huckabee reinforced his lack of understanding on foreign policy issues by restating the possibility that a border fence would keep out Pakistanis.
Huckabee stoops to the level of his contenders by scapegoating Pakistani Americans in a cheap shot at winning votes among anti-immigration voters. Huckabee and other candidates forget that Pakistani Americans -- such as Maryland State Delegate Saqib Ali, Professor and author Dr. Akbar Ahmed and internationally- recognized rock star Salman Ahmad -- contribute in positive ways to the political, academic and social fabric of America.
While it is truly refreshing to see caucus participation at such high levels this year, it is imperative that voters remember the intolerable rhetoric spewing out of campaigns when casting their ballots for the next president.
As evidenced by the results, America is ready for a change. In the spirit of embracing that change, the Muslim American community reminds candidates that there must also be a change in rhetoric to secure victory in the upcoming primaries.