Giving a Pass to Anti-Muslim Bigotry

Imagine that a nominee for secretary of state had shared platforms with white nationalist Richard B. Spencer and been given a major award by his National Policy Institute, which describes itself as “an independent organization dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States and around the world.” With that on his record, is it likely the nominee would have been confirmed, or nominated in the first place, to head the State Department?

Or what if someone under consideration for a top White House job had written an admiring foreword for a book by Holocaust denier David Irving or perhaps one by the psychologist and alt-right sympathizer Kevin MacDonald, who describes Jews as “a hostile, adversary elite” conducting “ethnic war” against Christianity and “traditional institutions of European-American culture”? Would such an endorsement keep him from being named as the president’s national security advisor?

While those are hypothetical questions, there can’t be much doubt about the answers. Views like Spencer’s (“This country does belong to white people, culturally, politically, socially, everything. We defined what America is”) and MacDonald’s (“Given Jewish influence over the political process… it is vitally important for those of us attempting to reverse White dispossession to understand this, to call attention to it, and to combat it”) certainly have a following, but are broadly seen as inconsistent with mainstream American values and beyond the borders of acceptable public discourse.

A Double Standard on Bigotry

When Muslims are the target of bigotry, however, the reaction is quite different. Evidence of that double standard abounds. Consider Brigitte Gabriel, not quite a household name but a leading voice in the Islamophobic choir. Gabriel, whose organization ACT for America is one of the most active and visible anti-Muslim groups in this country, has maintained longstanding and warm…

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