With a desperate Republican campaign playing fear-mongering card to prop up John McCain, the bigotry and Islamophobia is filtering down to local politics. A Muslim candidate, Todd Gallinger, for Irvine City Council (California) has reported receiving a phoned death threat after being smeared by a council member’s Islamophobic remarks.
Attorney Todd Gallinger, a Muslim convert, told the Los Angeles Time Thursday that a man called his office Tuesday, about three weeks after Councilman Steven Choi spoke at a forum and urged voters not to support him because he worked for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a leading Muslim civil rights group.
The council, which has 35 offices in the United States and Canada, is "a dangerous Islamic organization," Choi told 150 business leaders. The LA Times said that although Choi did not name Gallinger, the comment was clearly aimed at the 29-year-old lawyer, who has done legal work for the council's Southern California chapter in Anaheim.
Gallinger represented CAIR-LA in two class action lawsuits against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the FBI relating to delayed background checks for naturalization applicants.
Gallinger said the caller thought he was talking to him but told an employee, "I want to cut off your head just like all the other Muslims deserve." Gallinger pointed out that it is clear that the person was motivated by the political attacks against him by his opponent.
Those attending the forum reported that Choi called Gallinger "a born-again Muslim” and questioned if such a person is fit to represent the residents of Irvine.
The LA Times recalled that last month, retired Irvine Police Lt. Patrick A. Rodgers, who is also running for a seat on the council, sent an e-mail to reporters describing himself as "a conservative American red, white and blue thru and thru," and invited them to investigate Gallinger. Rodgers called his opponent "at best a terrorist group sympathizer."
And a recent campaign mailer addressed to "Irvine Republicans" accused Gallinger and other Democratic candidates for mayor and City Council of "touting" the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which it described as "a group with terrorist ties."
The Gallinger episode comes at a time when McCain campaign has notched up attacks on Barak Obama who is riding an advantage in national opinion polls and in several states that hold the key to the election. Alarmingly, a fear-mongering card is being played that has direct bearing on Seven-million strong American Muslim community.
Barack Obama’s middle name was attack fodder once again Wednesday when John McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin were introduced at a rally here in Lehigh, PA. Before John McCain and Sarah Palin took the stage, William Platt II, the head of the Lehigh County GOP, referred to Obama — not once, but twice — by his full name.
“The No. 1 most liberal senator in the United States of America was, you guessed it, the ambassador of change, Barack Hussein Obama,” Platt said as the crowd booed. Opponents have used Obama’s middle name to label him as Muslim and anti-Semitic.
Last time that reference was made at a McCain event in February, McCain condemned it on stage shortly after. But this time McCain didn’t denounce the comments, but campaign spokesman Paul Lindsay issued a statement saying “We do not condone this inappropriate rhetoric .”
At a rally for Palin in Estero, Florida, last week, another speaker used Obama’s middle name. “On Nov. 4,” yelled Lee County (Fla.) Sheriff Mike Scott, “let’s leave Barack Hussein Obama wondering what happened!”
At the same time, McCain campaign is trying to tie Senator Obama to William Ayers (now 63), a founder of the Weather Underground, a radical left anti-Vietnam War group that bombed the US Capitol and Pentagon in the early 1970s. Mr Ayers hosted a meeting at his house in 1995 to introduce Senator Obama to neighbors during his first run for the Illinois Senate. They also served on a non-profit anti-poverty board together.
Citing a New York Times story about Obama-Ayers relationship, Sarah Palin commented on three campaign rallies on October 4 that Barack Obama was "palling around with terrorists"
In this charged atmosphere it is not surprising that crowds in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania have repeatedly booed Obama and yelled “off with his head,” and at a rally in Florida where Sarah Palin appeared without Mr. McCain, a man yelled out “kill him.”