Don't Forget to Thank Republicans

May 20, 2016

With election season upon us, anti-Muslim rhetoric is at an all-time high. From proposals to ban Muslims from entering the United States to increasing patrols of “Muslim neighborhoods”, American Muslims, along with other minority groups, are a convenient punching-bag to score quick political points with voters. While most Democrats have been quick to denounce such fear-mongering, we must also not lose sight of the fact that there have been Republicans who have also stood up to the extremist views within their own party.

Most of politicians who stand up to anti-Muslim bigotry end up being on the progressive side of the aisle- Rep. Don Beyer introduced multiple bills either condemning anti-Muslim bigotry or prohibiting a religious test for immigrants. Over a dozen Democratic Members of Congress brought an American Muslim constituent to this year’s State of the Union. President Obama famously stated at a mosque this year that American Muslims do not have to choose between their faith and patriotism.

Compounded with the fact that it anti-Muslim comments frequently seem to come from those who call themselves conservative, it is no wonder that American Muslims are overwhelmingly Democrats. However, it should not be lost upon us that there are Republicans who have taken a stand against the extremist statements and proposals that those from their own party have made.

Take the most recent, and touching, example of former US Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT). The last few days of his life, as he lay on his deathbed, he spent apologizing to Muslims for the comments of Donald Trump and expressing his desire to thank Muslims for being a part of our country. As Donald Trump rose in the polls, Bennett became increasingly disturbed by Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric. According to his wife, he had earlier approached a hijab-wearing woman at an airport and expressed how she should feel welcome in the United States.

And Bennett was not the only one. After Sen. Cruz’s proposal to patrol “Muslim neighborhoods”, then-fellow presidential candidate Gov. John Kasich blasted the proposal, saying, “In our country, we don’t want to create divisions where we say, ‘O.K., well your religion, you’re a Muslim, so therefore we’re going to keep an eye on you.’” Speaker Paul Ryan took the unusual step of commenting on the presidential race by clarifying that such bigoted comments were not a part of conservative principles, and went on to point out that American Muslims had died for our country and worked to protect our constitution.

While American Muslims lean left, it was only a little while ago that they were on the conservative end of the spectrum themselves. It is worth the American Muslim community, no matter what side they are on, to acknowledge and thank the voices of all people who stand up for them. Especially in a time where a nuanced view of Muslims can be toxic for a Republican, American Muslims must show gratitude to conservatives who are bucking the trend of Muslim-bashing we so frequently hear of on the news.

In addition, American Muslims must have a voice in both parties. While a Republican in the American Muslim community may be a minority, that person should be supported and encouraged to get involved in campaigns, run for office, or work as public servants. Having a voice at the table will eventually progress the narrative that some Republicans have on Islam. And as American Muslims become a more powerful politically, it is strategic to not be completely in one camp so that neither party takes the community for granted and works for its votes.




View All


Help us continue our work with a quick
one-time or monthly donation.