Carly Fiorina Fearmongers Islamic World Now, But She Praised Muslim Civilization After 9/11

Election '16

The religion of Islam itself has – shockingly – become a topic of controversy among the Republican presidential candidates, starting with Donald Trump failing to condemn a man asking him about getting rid of Muslims altogether and escalating with Ben Carson saying he would not want a Muslim president.

Carson's campaign manager even boasted of gaining 100,000 Facebook fans following the flare-up and said that Iowa Republicans don't want a Muslim president either.

All of this puts the spotlight on former HP executive Carly Fiorina, who is now polling second in the race. Fiorina, appearing on the Jimmy Fallon show, said she disagreed with the remarks bashing Muslims.

But in a Republican Party that is eager to see more attacks on the Islamic faith and Muslim Americans, some remarks she made a few years ago may be going too far. Two weeks after the 9/11 attacks, Fiorina, who was then still at HP, gave a speech praising early Muslim societies as the “greatest in the world,” saying that while other societies were “afraid of ideas,” these Muslim civilizations “thrived on them, and kept them alive.” She talked eloquently about Muslim mathematicians, architects, doctors, and astronomers in the Ottoman Empire and “the court of Baghdad, Damascus, and Cairo” who fostered “enlightened rulers like Suleiman the Magnificent.” She ended by saying that maybe “we can learn a lesson” from these Muslim leaders between the year 800 to the year 1600, and that “dark and serious times like this, we must affirm our commitment to building societies and institutions that aspire to this kind of greatness.”

There was a time when such remarks would not be controversial, even in the Republican Party. But in a political coalition that now rewards individuals such as Donald Trump and Ben Carson for their bigotry, it is likely these words from Fiorina could be a primary liability.

Perhaps that's why Fiorina seems to be re-positioning herself. Over the summer, Fiorina appeared on Bill Maher's show on HBO and sung a different tune. “No one's doing this in the name of Christianity, no one's doing this in the name of Judaism, it is not religion,” that is the problem, she explained of religious terrorism. Even Maher, who is not exactly known to be a pro-Islam commentator, responded by saying that “there are crazy Christians, there are crazy Jewish settlers right now.” “There is no moral equivalence!” thundered Carly in response.

Islamophobia is not going anywhere, and it remains to be seen which Fiorina will be the one addressing it: the one praising the positive contributions of Muslims to the world or the one claiming Muslims are the world's only violent extremists.

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