NEW YORK: At first, the Republican Party of Iowa was quick to distance itself from Rick Phillips, a Republican candidate for the state’s 2nd Congressional District primary on June 2.
Running on an anti-Muslim platform, Phillips denigrated mosques as “nothing more than military outposts where the seeds of hatred are sown against our country,” and called to eliminate Islam from the US.
The party’s rebuke of him came in response to an email by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) urging its local leaders to repudiate the candidate’s comments.
But some officials within the party forwarded CAIR’s email to an anti-Muslim pseudo-intellectual called Steve Kirby, engaging him to defend Phillips.
“One might not like to hear what Mr. Phillips has to say about Islam, but in these particular issues there are facts to support Mr. Phillips,” Kirby wrote in the email thread. “Islam has core tenets in irreconcilable conflict with the Constitution.”
Thomas Jefferson, one of the key founding fathers, owned a copy of the Qur’an, and wrote about Islam in his early political treatises.
Campaigning for religious freedom, Jefferson argued: “Neither Pagan nor Mahamedan nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the Commonwealth because of his religion.”
Robert McCaw, director of government affairs at CAIR, told Arab News: “Prior to the founding of our nation, Muslims were here contributing and building toward its success. First brought here as slaves, they’ve fought in every American war since then, including the revolutionary war.”
Last year, Congress passed a resolution that recognizes American Muslims’ history and contributions to the nation.
Born and raised in Iowa, Phillips said where he grew up, “it was only white people.” He told Arab News: “I grew up on a farm. I was around cows and animals and such … Lots of fields.”
He learned about Islam watching YouTube videos, after which he concluded that the religion is anti-constitutional.
“If (Muslims) achieve superiority, they’ll not permit the same (protected) rights that we have in our constitution now,” he said.
“That’s why I’m pushing to put (Islam) on trial. This whole ideology needs to be scrutinized by Americans so they can understand it better.”
Phillips said he is not promoting hate, just “telling the truth,” adding: “Jesus told the truth and he was crucified for it. Him being perfect ended with that result. I can’t see where I would be any different.”
McCaw said Phillips’ “anti-Muslim ideology and talking points are taken directly from the US Islamophobia network. To the common Islamophobe, Muslims have no place in American society — they aren’t protected by the constitution.”
McCaw added: “When these ideas find political platforms to be spread on, that puts the American-Muslim community’s rights and safety in danger.”