‘US authorities, media responsible for preventing fanning flames of Islamophobia’

Huma Abedin, aide to Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. © Jim Young
Those in the US in positions of influence have to make sure they are not stirring the pot of bigotry and fanning flames of anti-Muslim rhetoric, which has been on the rise, said Andre Carson, US Representative, D-Indiana.

US Representative Carson himself a Muslim, joins RT America’s Anya Parampil to discuss anti-Muslim violence and Islamophobic rhetoric used throughout this election cycle.

RT: Has the Islamophobic rhetoric used throughout this election cycle contributed to the increase in hate crimes committed against Muslims? What can you tell us about anti-Muslim violence in the US in general?

Andre Carson: We all have a responsibility as people who are in position of  influence or so-called influence, as well as our friends in the media – to not fan the flames of bigotry, even fan the flames of Islamophobia. We live in very tumultuous times, and people are hurting, people are concerned, people are looking for scapegoats. So we have to be very careful, as we engage in very healthy and critical, even Socratic debates. We have to make sure that we are not stirring the pots of bigotry and hatred.

RT: Speaking of the media and how they’ve handled what some politicians have said, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump gets a lot of attention for the inflammatory comments he’s made about Muslims, or generalizations he’s made about refugees. Do you think the media has played any role in creating the climate that was rather ripe for Trump?

AC: To a very large degree without question. On one end, there was great entertainment value being provided by Mr. Trump who is a classic showman, he is a P. T. Barnum, he is very entertaining. But I think in our push to be entertained, we lost sight of the fact that we have created a Frankenstein of sorts, and now it looks like the Frankenstein has gained a significant amount of momentum and his rhetoric – he has not demonstrated any policy depth. He hasn’t presented any kind of tangible platform that can be realized in a very genuine way, in cooperation with Congress. It is just rhetoric. He is speaking empty words – though persuasive, though speaking to a certain segment of our population that has become disillusioned. They are disgruntled, they feel like they are getting a smaller piece of the American pie. They want to go back to some mythological Camelot times of America that have never existed. So in large part the media creation that Trump has become, the extension of what he already was, has become concerning. The personal persona, because I’ve met Trump before, betrays the public persona, betrays his rhetoric, and that concerns me.

RT: Why do you think the media doesn’t ask Trump some relevant questions, like asking to provide an example of a terrorist attack that was committed by a Muslim? Why do you think instead they just give him a platform to double down?

AC: My hope is as the weeks go on and go forward we will start getting to the bare bones of what Mr. Trump truly believes. And raised all those important questions I’ve not seen the same kind of scrutiny on Mr. Trump as we’ve seen on Secretary [Hillary] Clinton. The fact that the media is encouraging additional investigations against Clinton concerns me. One even wonders if it is because she is a woman. And to that regard Trump has been given numerous passes that others have not been given. But as the weeks move forward I hope that it could be dealt with more deeply into who Mr. Trump really is and what he believes personally. Is this his constitution or is it simply pedantry to entertain the American public?

RT: According to the New York Times, back in 2000 during a heated US Senate race in New York Clinton came under attack for accepting political contributions for Muslim groups, whose members were targets of a smear campaign. Basically without hesitation Clinton ended up condemning her Muslim supporters, returned their donations and refused to meet with Muslim Americans for the remainder of her campaign, all in a spirit of wooing Jewish voters. What’s your take on that?

AC: I think that she would even admit that the decisions that were made are in fact regrettable. It is clear that just as our Jewish brothers and sisters have leveraged their voting bloc very brilliantly, the Muslim community should do the same. We cannot allow politicians to court our community, and once they get into office they vote against our interest. This was a defining moment. It was a teachable lesson for other politicians, and even other communities, particularly Muslims – that we cannot give our money freely and give away our vote freely without having an agenda, without holding officials accountable, and when people do acts to go against our community in a kind of an opportunistic way, they have to be penalized.

But I think Clinton has shown over and over against just by whom she surrounds herself with – my good friend Huma Abedin who was one of her chief advisers. The fact that when she came to Indianapolis we facilitated a moment with some Syrian-Americans and the secretary. She has spoken out against Islamophobia, she has spoken out against the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment that we see rising in our country. If you go to her rallies, you see a sizeable Muslim presence at her rallies. I think Clinton is not only the woman for the job and who will be a great president, but I think she has an agenda that reflects the diversity of our country.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.