By Aldo Guerrero – Fair.org
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is still spreading the myth of Muslim “no-go zones” in Europe–and even claiming that they will come to the United States (CNN,1/21/15). Declared Jindal in a London speech:
In the West, non-assimilationist Muslims establish enclaves and carry out as much of Sharia law as they can without regard for the laws of the democratic countries which provided them a new home.
When CNN International correspondent Max Foster challenged Jindal to name an actual “no-go zone,” Jindal offered this non-answer: “I think your viewers know absolutely there are places where the police are less likely to go.”
In response, human rights attorney Arsalan Iftikhar (aka “The Muslim Guy“) opined on MSNBC(1/19/15):
I think Governor Jindal is protesting a bit too much. He might be trying to scrub some of the brown off of his skin as he runs to the right in a Republican presidential exploratory bid.
This statement prompted MSNBC to ban Iftikhar from the network deeming his comments “offensive” and “unacceptable” (Mediaite, 1/20/15).
But Iftikhar was merely suggesting that there is prejudice based on skin color in our political culture–hardly a far-fetched claim–and that non-white politicians like Jindal may tend to bash other minorities (in this case, Muslims) in order to avoid the consequences of this prejudice. (Iftikhar’s use of the skin-scrubbing metaphor indicates that he finds this a futile endeavor.)
Jindal has a history of invoking his background as an Indian-American raised in an Hindu household–only to climactically emphasize his ultimate conversion to Christianity, which he calls “the most significant moment” in his life. He received laurels for highlighting this part of his life story in his commencement address at Liberty University, a private Christian (and right-wing) university (Times-Picayune, 5/10/14; Washington Post, 5/12/14).
Emphasizing a politician’s Christian credentials, of whatever skin color, obviously appeals to the Republican Party’s religious base, but with Jindal it has the added benefit of positioning himself as a child of immigrants who has changed his worldview to conform to the beliefs of the majority.
As Iftikhar suggested, Jindal does devote considerable effort to criticizing minority groups who don’t fit in as well with American majority self-image. This strategy was on full display in Jindal’s softball interview with Fox Newshost Neil Cavuto (1/21/15), where Jindal was allowed to spread as much fear as he wanted:
There are neighborhoods in the UK and in France that have been documented, very well-documented by Ambassador [John] Bolton and others, where there are attempts to impose Sharia law. There are neighborhoods where women do not feel comfortable walking in without veils.
He also added his obsession with cultural assimilation:
But absolutely there are neighborhoods where you have communities of people that don’t want to integrate, don’t want to assimilate…. They’re actually going in there to colonize, to overtake the culture. That’s what going to happen in America if we’re not careful.
Cavuto shied away from directly challenging the validity of Jindal’s specific claims. Instead, Cavuto asked Jindal to respond to Iftikhar’s ban from MSNBC, react to a statement from the Democratic National Committee and reaffirm whether or not he would back off his original claims. (Jindal responded, “Absolutely not.”) In effect, Cavuto gave Jindal a platform to promote his rhetoric without any scrutiny. It’s almost as if Fox News wanted to apologize for its apology for its “no-go zone” coverage by bringing on a guest who would espouse the same false rhetoric.
MSNBC was quick to punish the Muslim guy who made a blunt observation about a minority member obsessed with assimilation. Meanwhile, Bobby Jindal is free to roam media circles, fearmongering around a discredited notion that treats Muslims as alien invaders. If he can keep this up, maybe he’ll prove Iftikhar wrong by showing that it really is possible to overcome prejudice by playing to prejudice.