It takes one to know one.
Mike Huckabee, who is campaigning for President in one of the most critical states for any Republican candidate – Israel – warned this week about the threat that fundamentalists will hijack Egypt’s democracy protests. Huckabee knows these dangers well. As a leading figure in the fundamentalist movement that has hijacked the Republican Party he understands how easily a well-intentioned drive for liberty can be subverted.
Huckabee’s warnings have been echoed by one of his strongest fundamentalist rivals in the upcoming race for the GOP Presidential nomination. Rick Santorum warned that we shouldn’t be fooled by the protestors’ statements about non-violence because these people are “for all the things that violent jihadists are for.” Violent or not, according to Santorum they are as dangerous to western civilization as Al Qaida.
What is the group that Huckabee claims “could threaten the world and all who seek peace in it”? Well, the Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist party which long ago abandoned violence and has held seats in Egypt’s parliament. They are expected to wield significant influence if Egypt elects a free government. I agree that a movement that loathes Western secularism and seeks to replace it with a government based on what it sees as the only source of legitimate authority, God’s Law, is indeed a terrible threat to freedom.
The legitimate concern that fundamentalism might poison politics in a democracy is nothing new. Barry Goldwater warned us about that threat twenty years ago, but he was talking about guys like Huckabee and Santorum.
Nominally speaking about abortion in his 2008 campaign, Huckabee outlined the standards that should guide law:
“I believe it’s a lot easier to change the constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God, and that’s what we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than try to change God’s standards.”
Now, this is completely different from the Muslim Brotherhood because of the, uh…well. You know those people…er…you see. Oh, those people sometimes wear beards. There’s that. So they are completely different from American fundamentalists who are overwhelmingly clean shaven.
The Muslim Brotherhood just wants to protect traditional values, stop Communism, preserve respect for religion in the public sphere, prevent a gay agenda from destroying the family, shelter women from the liberal influences of feminism, and build a democracy that is bound by God’s laws. These guys line up with the religious wing of the GOP almost plank for plank (except for Israel). Peel the word “Muslim” off their agenda, carry it to the Texas GOP Convention, and how controversial would it be?
Huckabee and Santorum are right to be worried about the Muslim Brotherhood. Its members claim to be committed to peaceful participation in the political system. But if they grow frustrated with their lack of influence in public policy, can we really be sure they won’t resort to 2nd Amendment remedies?
If a heightened risk that fundamentalists might win elections was a disqualifier for democracy, we wouldn’t be allowed to have it either.
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