By Joe Jenkins
Vets for American Ideals leader Emir Hazdic wasn’t the only veteran to speak up against former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich’s recent anti-Muslim comments—Human Rights First’s Scott Cooper raised his voice as well. The context: in the wake of the horrific terrorist attack in Nice, France, on July 14th Newt Gingrich declared, “Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background, and if they believe in sharia, they should be deported.”
His remarks are not only offensive, they are unconstitutional. And they suggest a hatefulness that runs counter to the America many risked their lives defending. Unfortunately, Gingrich is not an anomaly. Anti-Muslim sentiment has been the ugly undercurrent of the national conversation on the global refugee crisis for months. It is no coincidence that hate crimes against Muslims have also risen to the highest levels since 9/11.
In an op-ed in The Hill, Veterans for American Ideals director Scott Cooper responded to Ginrich’s remarks by recalling other dark moments in our nation’s history, from the internment of the Japanese-Americans during the Second World War to the demagoguery of the McCarthy era. Cooper says, “We have seen what happens when fear and intolerance take hold and an entire group of people is ostracized. We must internalize the hard lessons of the past.” Internalizing those lessons means holding true to our national ideals of inclusiveness, equality, and justice for all.
Read the full op-ed here.