Election 2014  
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Romney Campaign's Ugly Anti-Muslim Strategy to Win Cash and Votes

The Romney campaign courts anti-Muslim bigots for political gain while the Democrats stay silent, despite an alarming spate of attacks on Muslim religious centers.

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Needless to say, Romney skirted the question from the reporter, and did not take the opportunity to denounce Bachmann's campaign, as other leading Republican figures like John McCain and John Boehner have. Instead, he said, “I’m not going to tell other people what things to talk about. Those are not things that are part of my campaign.” But an adviser to the Romney campaign, arch-neoconservative John Bolton, defended Bachmann's witch hunt. On his radio show, Gaffney asked Bolton what he thought of Bachmann's allegations. “What I think these members of Congress have done is simply raise the question, to a variety of inspectors general in key agencies, are your departments following their own security clearance guidelines,” Bolton said.

Other figures associated with the Romney campaign are also squarely in the anti-Muslim camp. Florida Republican Adam Hasner, a chairman of the “Jewish Americans for Romney Coalition,” has close links with Pamela Geller, a peddler of hate who routinely publishes vitriol against Muslims on her blog. As Salon's Seitz-Wald also reported, Hasner has joined Geller in the fight against “sharia law”—a pet cause of the anti-Muslim right, despite the fact that there is no formal Islamic legal regime (sharia is best understood as a moral code, and its interpretation varies in different cultures). Hasner also invited Dutch politician Geert Wilders to a conference in Florida; Wilders is a controversial figure who has stated that he “hates Islam” and that the Muslim holy book, the Koran, is a fascist book.

And then there's Walid Phares, an adviser to Romney on foreign policy and the co-chair of Romney's Middle East policy advisory group. Phares was a member of a right-wing Lebanese Christian militia that was tied to massacres of Muslims and Palestinians in Lebanon. He is also a prominent Islamophobic activist who has stoked fears about sharia law in the U.S. As a landmark report on Islamophobia in the U.S. published by the Center for American Progress documented, “Phares promotes the conspiracy theory of mainstream Muslim organizations posing as radical Islamist cells. He warns that 'jihadists within the West pose as civil rights advocates' and patiently recruit until '[a]lmost all mosques, educational centers, and socioeconomic institutions fall into their hands.'”

The courting of anti-Muslim figures and appointments to official positions in the Romney campaign is not for nothing. Romney benefits in cash and votes from this strategy.

Anti-Muslim Donors

As AlterNet has documented, many big-time Romney campaign funders are enthralled with Israeli militarism and occupation. And many of these same donors fund the Islamophobia network in the US.

Take Sheldon Adelson, who has pledged to spend up to $100 million to help Romney win the presidency. Adelson has warned of “Muslim student organizations tak[ing] over the campuses.” He has funded the Clarion Fund, an organization that has put out two anti-Muslim films, Obsession and The Third Jihad.

Foster Friess, a right-wing evangelical, is another Romney donor tied to the small coterie of figures stoking anti-Muslim sentiment. Friess is a promoter of so-called “peaceful Muslims,” as he puts it on his Web site—a subtle way of tagging the majority of Muslims as violent. Friess filmed an introduction to  Obsession, urging people to buy the anti-Muslim film, and gave at least $270,000 to Zuhdi Jasser, the Muslim darling of the right-wing. Jasser is a key promoter of the false conservative meme that sharia law is a threat to the U.S., and also opposed the Park 51 Islamic center near Ground Zero. As Max Blumenthal wrote in the Nation, Jasser is one of a “seemingly sober set of self-proclaimed 'dissident' Muslims who have seized the post-9/11 media spotlight to defend pro-Israel positions, Western military intervention in the Arab world and police spying on Muslim Americans.”