Posted on June 30, 2016 in Countdown

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Cruz and the Crazies, Together Again

We've had the oftentimes painful privilege of a front row seat in Washington, D.C. for the last 30 years, where we've watched a lot of bigoted rhetoric and policies take aim at our community. There was of course the infamous Peter King hearings on 'Muslim Radicalization' that we had to live through and fight against, and then this week we were sad to watch Senator Ted Cruz try to take King's work one step further by convening a Senate hearing titled "Willful Blindness: Consequences of Agency Efforts to Deemphasize Radical Islam in Combating Terrorism." Cruz invited some particularly out-there witnesses to help him build his outlandish case. One of the witnesses became a self-proclaimed expert on 'jihad' during an internship with CAIR (despite reports, we've been told CAIR doesn't train interns on ‘jihad’), and another witness, Mr. Haney (despite reports, he is not Creed from The Office), claims to be a "subject matter expert" but is clearly a disaffected former government employee whose wild conspiracy theories probably lost him a job. There were many outlandish, insulting, and un-American moments in the hearing - and they all came at the expense of Muslims worldwide, including American Muslims in the United States including two Members of Congress who were accused of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood because they happen to be Muslim. In those tough moments, we were grateful for the pushback from the sacrificial lambs who had to testify alongside the crazy people, Farhana Khera of Muslim Advocates, Mike German of the Brennan Center for Justice, and Richard Cohen of the Southern Poverty Law Center. They all made important corrections to the bigotry from Cruz and his camp, and made powerful appeals to the better angels that perhaps even Ted Cruz might still entertain. It's sad to see this bigotry get a national platform and the legitimacy of a Senate hearing, but it's encouraging to take stock of our allies. You know what they say about the company you keep...


Who’s Actually Going to the GOP Convention? We Are…

It’s a short three weeks until the Republican National Convention kicks off in Cleveland and we’re having a hard time figuring out who’s actually going to be there. The Trump campaign is probably asking the same question as the number of senior Republican leaders skipping the convention keeps growing - John Kasich joined that list this week -  and the list of corporate investors continues dwindles – this week Apple joined the list of those not attending. Trump has also got to be worried about the 3 week timeline to find a willing Vice President pick, which seems to be a difficult task considering the number of Republicans who have taken their own names out of the running. The 4-day convention is reportedly having a hard time lining up entertainment for the Republican delegates who are going to be there - and some unwelcome others including a violent neo-Nazi brigade. It's worth noting that we’re having a hard time finding any Arab American Republican convention-goers (either on the Party's staff or actual delegates) who are going to the convention – which will be the first time in our organization’s history. Also a first in our history, AAI won't be hosting the events we normally do at conventions, but we will be there to make a point. If for whatever reason you'll be there, or know people who will be there, we urge you to join us for a free comedy show we are poignantly calling "Banned: Dangerously Funny Arab Americans and American Muslims" featuring our friends Dean Obeidallah and Maysoon Zayid. We’re all going to need a good laugh.


Who is Happy with the DNC Platform Draft?

It's not just the GOP who's fighting some major internal battles to come to grips with their presumptive nominee. For the Democrats, the battle between the Clinton and Sanders camps was live streamed for all to see this past weekend when the Platform Drafting Committee met in St. Louis to put together the 2016 Democratic Platform. As everyone could have predicted, the outnumbered Sanders appointees lost just about every major battle, some of which were confounding (like climate change measures) and some of which were infuriatingly predictable (like the Israel and Palestine language). Despite the vehement disappointment with platform language in the Bernie camp, Hillary and the DNC are hailing the platform as the most progressive platform in the party's history, which may actually be true if you look at the Sanders-led measures that did pass like the death penalty, Native American rights, and Wall Street reform. But we want to kindly remind everyone who is prematurely counting their victories and defeats - you shouldn’t count your chickens before they hatch. The drafted platform must be voted on next week by Platform Committee members. It takes 25% of dissenting Committee members to join together to issue a minority plank which can then be raised on the convention floor in Philly. Change might still be coming.


The Brexit, Trump, and People Who Need to Google

So, the Brexit happened. While it is probably outside our purview to teach you about the politics of the European Union and the domestic politics of the United Kingdom - we want to offer a few observations. We are finding it painfully funny that in the immediate aftermath of the vote result, there was a reported surge in google searches for "what is the European Union," and then a viral "mea culpa" hashtag brought to light the dumbfounding numbers of voters who cast their ballot to leave the EU, but wanted a re-do. We note these not-so-funny facts because many are connecting the Leave crowd with the Trump crowd here in the U.S. It kind of makes sense to us to make that connection, with ultra-nationalism and xenophobia seeming to be a primary motivating factor for both movements. So we've got to wonder, in the scenario that Donald Trump becomes President, will his supporters be googling "what is the job of the President" and will there be people who want a re-do? In Britain, they're searching for a way to undo what has been done, will we need to do the same?