The GOP’s tent that’s received loads of room for violent insurrectionists, white supremacists, killers, conspiracists and a congressman accused of sex trafficking isn’t large enough to welcome profitable brown-skinned Muslims and immigrants.
For the previous 5 months Republican senators on the Small Enterprise Committee have refused to advance the nomination of Dilawar Syed for the No. 2 submit within the Small Enterprise Administration, which might make him the best rating Muslim within the Biden Administration.
After I examine these assaults towards Syed, I used to be a bit stunned—not by the GOP’s rampant anti-Muslim bigotry, thoughts you, which rings loud and clear in every ugly Islamophobic attack against Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, however as an alternative by the selection of their newest goal. Syed is an immigrant from Pakistan who graduated from Trump’s alma mater, Wharton, took dangers, labored arduous, and have become a profitable entrepreneur and job creator, driving inclusive entrepreneurship in under-served areas.
I’ve identified Syed for over a decade since we first met at an OPEN Silicon Valley convention once I lived within the Bay Space, the place he was energetic in serving to Pakistani American entrepreneurs and mentoring younger professionals. On paper, he needs to be a poster boy for the GOP’s narrative of exceptionalism, the place anybody can come right here, construct themselves up from nothing, and obtain “the American Dream.”
In our conversations, he at all times described himself as a secular Muslim, who nonetheless strongly identifies with the group. He was at all times engaged with Asian American and Pakistani American teams, entrepreneurship and civic advocacy moderately than overthrowing U.S. democracy and placing a burqa on the Statue of Liberty. Essentially the most controversial assertion I ever heard him make was an ignorant and misguided remark a couple of particular Pakistani dish. Aside from that, he is perhaps one of the chill, anodyne and boring Pakistani uncles round, and I say that as an enormous praise.
However the GOP is decided to forestall Democrats from establishing a quorum to maneuver Syed’s nomination ahead and let him get to work serving to companies in rural communities and the Rust Belt. They’re even ignoring the conservative U.S Chamber of Commerce’s endorsement of him.
White Home Deputy Press Secretary Chris Meagher instructed me that as an alternative of advancing the “well-qualified” Syed, Republicans as an alternative “should not displaying as much as the committee, shutting it down from doing their essential work in the course of a pandemic as small companies are hurting.” What salacious and sordid particulars did Republicans uncover about Syed that prompted and sustained their continued boycott? In line with a June electronic mail circulated by an aide to Republican Senator Jim Risch, Syed’s sins embrace being born in Pakistan and a board member of Emgage USA, a centrist non-profit group that promotes Muslim American civic engagement, management growth and voter registration. Republican Senators are accusing the group of being “anti-Israel” and taking “very partisan positions” towards the Israeli authorities.
After I learn the accusations, I laughed out loud. Clearly, these Republicans don’t hang around with Muslims, besides once they meet their Muslim Uber driver as they go to the hospital to get checked out by their Muslim nurses and docs. Inside Muslim American communities, Emgage has been loudly criticized by activists and leaders for being “pro Israel Muslims,” and accused of “promoting out” as a result of just a few of its board members and supporters have labored and engaged with proudly Zionist organizations and Jewish religion leaders.
These GOP senators belong to a celebration that’s so involved with antisemitism that its members embrace Reps. Paul Gosar, who believes within the antisemitic “alternative principle” and helps white supremacists like Holocaust-denier Nick Fuentes, and Marjorie Taylor Greene, who suspects a Jewish “house laser” is perhaps inflicting all these forest fires. However Syed is the place they draw the road.
In July, these GOP senators demanded a second listening to to make sure Syed’s nomination “would not jeopardize small businesses with close ties to Israeli companies or small companies owned by Jewish People.” (They appear completely effective selling conspiracies that inspire terrorists like Robert Bowers who kill and jeopardize Jewish lives, however I digress.) Responding to Sen. Marco Rubio’s query about BDS, the boycott, diversion and sanctions marketing campaign towards Israel for its occupation of Palestinian territories, Syed stated, “I do not support BDS. Throughout my career, I have supported engagement with Israeli business.”
“20 years after 9/11, it’s nonetheless Groundhog’s Day for Muslim-People.”
Whereas Republicans are “involved” about Syed, main Jewish-American organizations and leaders are actively supporting his nomination. They’re calling out the GOP’s shameful and cynical try to make use of them as props. A letter was recently drafted and signed by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of greater than 220 nationwide organizations dedicated to defending civil liberties and human rights, that helps Syed and asks the Senate to verify his nomination. Signatories included Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of The Anti-Defamation League, a company which is aware of a factor or two about antisemitism.
Greenblatt instructed me, “It has been painful to see the assaults on Mr. Syed’s candidacy due to his affiliation with Emgage… we’d like him confirmed and we’d like the Senate to embrace the management of individuals of all faiths, together with American Muslims, in public service than giving in to bias or bad-faith smear campaigns.”
The American Jewish Committee issued a statement saying the accusations “primarily based on his nationwide origin or involvement in a Muslim advocacy group are so base and unAmerican that AJC is compelled to speak out.”
Jerilyn Gelt, the previous President of the San Francisco Jewish Group Relations Council who accompanied Syed on a research tour to Israel in 2013, stated Syed “is an ally to the Jewish group within the U.S. and opposes antisemitism in all of its types,” calling it “shameful” to see antisemitism and Israel “weaponized for partisan gain.” She additionally articulated the GOP’s fundamental drawback along with his nomination: Syed is “clearly being attacked as a result of he’s a Muslim.”
It’s no shock that Jewish American leaders are talking up for Syed as a result of they acknowledge the harmful “twin loyalty” smear that has been traditionally levied towards them.
“It’s the identical playbook,” Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, the Washington director of Bend the Arc, a progessive Jewish American group, instructed me, including that he’s personally insulted that GOP senators are claiming to wage this character assassination towards Syed to by some means defend the Jewish group. Sen. Josh Hawley particularly earns his ire, as a result of he’s a “man who used basic antisemitic tropes a couple of ‘cosmopolitan elite’ that’s engaged in a plot to regulate the economic system and weaken America. The shamelessness is aware of no bounds.”
This GOP “shamelessness” has a protracted, profitable historical past. For the previous 20 years, particularly after the 9/11 terror assaults, at any time when a Muslim American rises in political prominence they’re instantly bombarded by the Islamophobia network, a tightly coordinated coterie of right-wing actors who unleash a calculated smear marketing campaign which makes use of guilt by affiliation, conspiracy theories, and examples of pro-Palestinian advocacy to tarnish Muslims as secret members and sympathizers of the unconventional Muslim Brotherhood. “Muslim” itself was a used a pejorative or a political plague to be averted. This was most evident within the “birther conspiracy” towards President Obama, alleging that he’s a secret Muslim born in Kenya and thus by some means inherently hostile and anti-American. In 2010, proper earlier than the midterms, the anti-sharia threat was manufactured and disseminated across America resulting in anti-Sharia bans and protests against mosques, and that very same playbook is getting used to assault CRT throughout the nation.
In 2012 and once more in 2016, Republican Congressmen and their propagandists in right-wing media falsely accused Hilary Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin of getting “ties with the Muslim Brotherhood” just because she was Muslim. Reema Dodin, the White Home Deputy Legislative Affairs Director and one of the revered and beloved folks throughout each aisles in Congress, was initially attacked for being a Muslim and Palestinian girl.
Even being a life-long Republican isn’t sufficient to save lots of Muslims from conservative assaults. Suhail Khan, a self-described “life-long Reagan conservative” and senior political appointee with the Bush Administration, was accused by notorious hate-monger Frank Gaffney of being a secret member of the unconventional Muslim brotherhood. Gaffney even turned on conservative anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, proving that you just don’t even should be Muslim to be thought of a Muslim menace. Norquist was a part of the “stealth jihad” as a result of he married a Muslim, Palestinian girl. Being married to a Muslim apparently makes you radical by osmosis.
The cynical, shameless combat over Syed’s nomination now could be a mirrored image of how the Republican celebration and the conservative motion sees thousands and thousands of their fellow People as suspects and villains as an alternative of residents worthy of the identical rights, alternatives and freedoms. 20 years after 9/11, it’s nonetheless Groundhog’s Day for Muslim-People.
If Syed is lastly confirmed and turns into the best rating Muslim within the Biden Administration despite the GOP’s ugly and shameful assaults on him on account of his religion and ethnicity, that will probably be a strong and hopeful signal that sufficient People are prepared to vouch for Muslims and immigrants and worth them as co-equal protagonists in our continued combat for a free and consultant democracy.