Guest Columns

HASAN: SENATE CANDIDATE NORTON APPEARS SENSELESS OR RACIST

Norton says she hasn’t forgotten 911 attacks — so she favors war on Islam?

Nothing has hurt the GOP more than Republican candidates who appear senseless or racist — Jane Norton, candidate for the U.S. Senate, has managed to appear as both.

In a redesign of her campaign theme, Norton’s Web site now carries a video that starts with the bold quote, “OBAMA DOCTRINE TO MAKE CLEAR NO WAR ON ISLAM — REUTERS, 5.26.10.” The quote plays over a chorus of dark sounds, communicating that Norton disagrees with Obama — she doesn’t want to go to war against ‘radical Islam’ or ‘fundamentalist Muslims’ — no, Norton wants to go after “Islam.”

As the video plays, one waits for explanation of why all Muslims should be slaughtered, but Norton offers nothing. Is her desire to kill all Muslims based on the fact that many Muslims have brown skin? Or that some speak with accents? Or that some wear turbans? The fact that the quote was displayed without direct explanation leaves the door open to assume that Norton is a racist.

However, Norton proudly insinuates that she has not “forgotten” the tragic attacks of 911, potentially meaning that all Muslims should be slaughtered for the sake of preventing another 911? Now this is pure stupidity and a complete departure from the President W. Bush strategy of winning the war.

While I am against the Patriot Act, I remain a strong supporter of Bush because he did a terrific job of handling the War On Terror, primarily because his strategy was based on engaging all Muslims, not killing them. In examining the record, Bush gave record amounts of aid to Muslim countries, lifted many sanctions, and opened free trade, with the Middle East Free Trade Agreement and South Asian Free Trade Agreements as prime examples.

The result? Of the 57 Muslim countries in the world, around 53 of them, as of 2008, had given us intelligence against Al-Qaeda and/or arrested suspected terrorists. Even Omar Gadaffi of Libya turned over the Pan Am hijackers and offered us intelligence against Al-Qaeda, after Bush opened economic relations and offered aid.

However, the beauty of Bush’s policy was that it not just foiled Al-Qaeda, rather, it made the Muslim World better. For example, in 2006, Bush opened free trade with Jordan, which caused outside investment in Jordan to increase by 500 percent leading to the creation of over 45,000 new jobs. In turn, the Millennium Challenge Corporation recognized Jordan as a country that is realizing great increases in civil liberties and literacy, all elements attributed to the new growth of jobs and economic development.

After all, terrorists and dictators feed on poverty — a lack of outside development and capital forces people to sell themselves to the agencies with the most wealth. Yet, new jobs and purchasing power allow middle classes of the Muslim World to grow, empowering them to create environments of greater liberty, reducing the growth of terrorist recruitment.

And best of all, the polling group, Terror Free Tomorrow, boasts many polls confirming America’s rise in popularity throughout the Muslim Word under President Bush, directly correlated against Osama Bin Laden’s drop in popularity.

Winning the War On Terror really is not as hard as many think — free trade and the lifting of sanctions, under Bush, have proven to work — however, the only difficult part of this solution is electing politicians with the foresight and conviction to actually carry out such policy that, on paper, seems too soft on terrorism. Remember, it was Bush who traveled America proclaiming Islam to be a “religion of peace,” not a religion we should be at war with.

And thus, we are left with Jane Norton, a Republican candidate who dismisses all the wisdom above on the grounds that she hasn’t “forgotten.” I have news for Norton — President Obama hasn’t “forgotten” either. In keeping Guantanamo open, increasing drone attacks in Muslim countries and not reducing troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan, all coupled with his tough talk of potentially invading Pakistan, one would conclude that Obama’s hawkishness could make Dick Cheney blush.

But more importantly, as a lifelong Republican, who was born and raised in Colorado, and as a practicing Muslim, I founded the groups Muslims For America and Muslims For Bush, with the hope of getting more Muslims in America involved, and potentially, registered into the Republican fabric. And nothing undoes this hard work more than politicians who seek division over wisdom. It is one of the reasons why I remain proud of my endorsement of Ken Buck over Norton, because Buck has a record of reaching out to Muslims in Weld County and getting to know them, demonstrating the kind of politician who will strengthen the GOP — someone with wisdom who builds bridges, not barriers.

Overall, I would say my mother surmises it best — in watching Norton’s new commercial, my mother said, “Well, there’s 57 Muslims countries. I guess Jane should just pick one and get started.”

Jane, good luck.

Muhammad Ali Hasan is a former Republican candidate for Colorado State Treasurer. An award winning film director and screenwriter, Hasan is currently developing a biopic about Benazir Bhutto.