Skip to comments.How Did Muslims Vote in 2000? [pre-war article, mentions Newt, ties to Gore, Bush - tangled web]
Posted on 12/17/2011 10:23:12 AM PST by PieterCasparzen
The American Muslim community made itself a visible and vocal presence in the run-up to the election of 2000 ... Prior to 1965, when American immigration law changed to permit many more non-Europeans to enter the country, only small numbers of Muslims lived in the United States; and there was little communal activity, owing mostly to their own lack of education and a worry about provoking prejudice. After 1965, however, because the immigration act of that year laid down a preference for professionals, scientists, and artists of "exceptional ability," the Muslim community benefited from an influx of educated, talented individuals who quickly developed financial muscle. As a result, one survey shows that of Muslims associating with a mosque, slightly more than 50 percent possess a college degree, a figure that ranks them higher than the general U.S. population. ... The 1996 presidential election marked the first one in which Muslims were engaged. ... efforts by Arab/Muslim PACs to raise money for George W. Bush were a spectacular failure. ... fundraising efforts for Hillary Clinton's high-profile New York senatorial campaign garnered her a $50,000 contribution from just one AMA event. ... advises Nayyer Ali in Pakistan Link:
Muslims need to be within the political system if they are to influence it successfully ...
(Excerpt) Read more at meforum.org ...
Comparison with Jews. As a counterpoint to Muslims' inability to work together, Islamists frequently referred to the successes of a unified "Jewish lobby." According to Aslam Abdullah, a columnist for Pakistan Link,
the Israeli lobby has built an infrastructure . . . to promote its cause. It has the backing of writers, policy analysts, defense experts, congressional staff, and congressmen themselves . . . Those who dare to speak out pay a heavy price for their stand. ... An element of conspiracy theory often crept in when Islamists discussed the Jews. In the words of Curtiss, there exists a "highly disciplined Jewish bloc vote" funneled through an "Israel lobby" which enjoys "incredible influence in the media." He observes that "by using Holocaust remembrance and support to Israel as catalysts, U.S. Zionists have turned this tiny minority into America's single most influential lobby."35 Accordingly, with slightly obsessive zeal, the Washington Report catalogues "pro-Israel PAC contributions."
These are old grievances, however. New to election 2000 was that Muslims stopped complaining impotently about the omnipotent Jewish lobby and started instead to emulate it. A. Omar Turbi, an Arab-American activist, explained:
Because of our own apathy, lack of experience, and skepticism about the American electoral system . . . only when we began studying the patterns of the highly organized Jewish vote . . . have we seriously debated how to get our issues on the political radar of the year 2000 candidates.
Hasan Qazwini of Detroit, an Iraqi-born imam, quoted in a newspaper as expressing "envy, admiration, and hostility towards Jews," confided:
we don't like to admit it, but . . . we learn from them lobbying, how to be organized, how to flood newspapers with letters, how to approach politicians. But we are not matching them in our influence. They have more experience.
In that strangely schizophrenic, love-hate tone Islamists use when discussing the Jews, Muslims were exhorted to follow their example. "The Jewish political power in this country is derived from their use of the ballot box and voting as a bloc [to] attain the impact of 3.5 percent," observed M. Amir Ali. In this manner, "the Jewish population [has] a deciding vote making or breaking politicians who kowtow [sic] the Jews."38 (Despite the belief, however, that the Jews vote as one after taking orders from on high, Jewish organizations have never combined to issue an endorsement of a single presidential candidate.)
(much more story here, Republicans are mentioned later in the story)
AMPCC. Even so, based on the sense among Muslims that in 1996 they had suffered from a lack of guidance, they felt it necessary to create a unified body that would wholeheartedly endorse a single presidential candidate. In 1996, the five major Islamist organizations had met and tried to endorse a single candidate, but at the last minute the AMC pulled out of the budding coalition, MPAC wavered, and the others lost their nerve, “worrying that their members might not understand that the goal was to demonstrate the community’s ability to vote as a bloc, not to pick a winner.” As a result, the AMC and MPAC backed Bill Clinton, while the National Council on Islamic Affairs (NCIA) endorsed Bob Dole, and the AMA and CAIR took no position.
In late 1997, chastened by their experience the previous year, the AMA, AMC, CAIR, MPAC, the American Muslim Caucus, and the NCIA formed what would become the American Muslim Political Coordination Committee (AMPCC) with the expressed intention of forging a single political forum. This time, stressing the theme of cooperation, the AMPCC intended to hold regular meetings to decide strategy.
The expected closeness of election 2000 amplified AMPCC’s voice, especially given Muslim concentrations in such key battleground states as Michigan, California, Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey, and Florida. On October 23, two weeks before the presidential election, AMPCC called a press conference in Washington, D.C., to announce its endorsement of George W. Bush for president. Its head, Agha Saeed, explained why:
Governor Bush took the initiative to meet with local and national representatives of the Muslim community. He also promised to address Muslim concerns on domestic and foreign policy issues.
How Muslims Voted in 2000
In all, how did Muslims vote? In July 2000, CAIR released a survey of 755 individuals taken the previous month. The utility of the poll is questionable, as it resulted from forms “faxed and e-mailed to individuals and organizations within CAIR’s nationwide network” (suggesting a strong Islamist bias). Anyway, it found that although 90 percent indicated an intention to vote, 25 percent of Muslims “have not decided who to vote for or are not satisfied with any of the candidates.” Of those who did support a candidate, Gore was ahead of Bush by 33 percent to 28 percent (followed by Pat Buchanan at 7 percent and Ralph Nader at 5 percent).
CAIR’s surveys purportedly show that Muslim voting intentions underwent a sea-change within a few months of November 7. A CAIR poll of 1,022 individuals, released in mid-October, found that 40 percent of eligible Muslim voters now planned to back Bush, and just 24 percent for Gore; Nader had quadrupled his ratings to 20 percent. Only 8 percent registered as undecided.
In a straw poll conducted during a Muslim leadership meeting in Chicago on October 17, 2000, an audience of 200 persons (again, strongly biased toward Islamists) responded with 69 percent for Bush, 12 percent for Gore and 16 percent for a third or fourth party candidate. Between October 27 and November 2, IslamOnline.net held an online poll of 446 presumably Islamist respondents and found Bush with 54 percent, Gore with 9 percent, and Nader with 34 percent.
The alleged final numbers, according to a CAIR poll released after the election, were 72 percent for Bush, 8 percent for Gore and 19 percent for Nader. Nationally, in a “post-election telephone poll,” the AMA found that “more than 80 percent” went for Bush, 9 percent for Gore, and 10 percent for Nader. If Ralph Nader had not run on the Green Party line, the figures for Bush would have reflected Muslim and immigrant dissatisfaction with Gore to an even greater extent. (This is not because Greenism is popular with Muslims but that they were attracted to Nader’s Lebanese background and his outspoken views on the Middle East.)
To the extent that these surveys conducted by Islamist organizations have validity, they indicate a hemorrhaging of votes from the other candidates to Bush in the final months. Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and the GOP’s pointman for attracting Muslims, argues that “Bush’s talk about outreach and inclusion had extraordinary resultsthe Muslim community went 2-1 for Bill Clinton [in 1996] and almost 8-1 for Bush.”
It should be emphasized that these are hardly impartial or authoritative numbers but the results of unscientific and dubious self-administered surveys. Accordingly, there is no way of knowing whether they accurately represent Muslim-in-the-street opinion or just mirror what Islamic activists think. An important insight can be gained, however, by looking closely at the Muslim vote in the key battleground state of Michigan.
Michigan, especially Dearborn and Detroit, enjoys an active and well-organized Muslim political, educational, and religious infrastructure. In Detroit, for example, the Muslim Citizens Grass Roots Political Committee, which in mid-October endorsed Bush, serves thirty-six mosques and six Islamic schools. Victor Begg, who oversees the committee’s network, met Bush in a meeting engineered by John Engler, the state’s Republican governor.
In the eastern part of Dearborn, however, where there is a high concentration of Muslims and Arabs, Bush won by 6,800 votes to 4,600a difference of 2,200 votes. The pro-Republican Islamic Institute argues that therefore Muslims were responsible for 71 percent of Bush’s total lead in the city. It notes that the eastern part of Dearborn has usually gone Democratic even more heavily than Dearborn as a whole, thereby accentuating the swing to Bush.
This theory is subject, however, to several flaws and contradictions. First, the Arab-American Institute conducted its own analysis of the Dearborn results. At first glance, it appears to bear out the Islamic Institute’s findings of a massive swing to the Texas governor: in particular, by looking at select precincts in east Dearborn, it seems that while Bush’s lead varied, he always won by a larger margin than his overall Dearborn margin of 52 percent to 44 percent. Thus, at McDonald School, Bush led 68 percent to 24 percent; at Salina School, the result was 72 percent to 21 percent; and so forth. The lowest he seems to have attracted was at Maples School, where the result was 53 percent to 40 percent.
However, the Islamic Institute discusses only Muslims, of which, it says, there are 9,800 in the city. The Arab-American Institute, on the other hand, talks of Arab Americans of which there are, according to its figures, 10,000 in Dearborn. The two numbers are suspiciously similar. Because less than a quarter of Arab Americans are Muslims (the rest being Christian), it might reasonably be supposed that one of these organizations has mistakenly conflated Muslims with Arabs. If so, the results, therefore, are severely flawed, even useless.
In any case, rosy Islamist predictions of delivering the “key battleground state” of Michigan to Bush came to nothing, even if Dearborn made for an isolated success. In Wayne Countyhome of DearbornGore won 68 percent to Bush’s 30 percent, while in the Senate race, Democrat Debbie Stabenow heavily defeated Islamist-backed (and Arab American) Republican Spence Abraham, 67 percent to 30 percent. State-wide, Gore and Stabenow both won, though their leads were significantly narrower.
Moreover, the theory of Bush’s popularity among Muslims contains a flat contradiction. An exit poll of 2,084 Michigan voters conducted by The Detroit News resulted in a very different set of numbers from those commonly bruited by interested parties. In this poll, conducted by a leading news organization using scientific methods and a substantial pool, Muslims were found to have voted for Gore by 66 percent compared to Bush’s 30 percent, reversing every self-administered, unscientific Islamist poll. The percentage of Gore-voting Muslims in fact exceeded that of any other religious affiliation. Even Jews, who vote heavily Democratic, only handed Gore 47 percent. Revealingly, this poll also found that African Americans backed Gore 92 percent to 8 percent, suggesting that black converts swelled the Muslim preference for Gore in Michigan. The Mosque in America survey, which omitted members of the Nation of Islam, noted that African Americans now number 30 percent of mosque attendees. The solid black turnout for the Democrats indicates that, among at least one major ethnic group, the Islamist effort to mobilize Muslims on behalf of Bush has been a failure.
Indeed, black Muslim groups such as the Coalition for Good Governmentthe political arm of the Muslim American Society, a black convert organizationrefused to join AMPCC in endorsing Bush, instead choosing to back his opponent. Black leaders bitterly complained that the AMPCC did not include African-American representation and thought the Islamist vehicle placed its own narrow concerns about Jerusalem, the Middle East, and Senator Lieberman’s Judaism above domestic issues. For blacks, inner-city development, racial profiling, juvenile justice, civil rights, and education policy remain of prime concern.
An “exclusive exit poll” of 350 Florida Muslims, apparently conducted by the AMA and reported on its website, found that 91 percent voted for Bush, 1 percent for Gore, and 8 percent for Nader. The Tampa Bay Islamic Center estimated that 55,000 Muslims in Florida voted and that 88 percent of them favored Bush. If true, this would mean that Bush’s majority among Muslims in Florida was far more than his several-hundred-vote lead over Gore.
From this rather flimsy evidence, Islamist organizations decided that Bush owed them for his victory. Agha Saeed, the AMPCC chairman, concluded that “it won’t be long before political analysts realize that Muslim voters have played a historic role.” And Sami al-Arian, an engineering professor at the University of Southern Florida and someone who was the subject of a six-year federal investigation for alleged links to Islamist terrorism, added, “Political pundits have been slow in acknowledging the crucial, even decisive, role of the Muslim vote in Florida.” The chairman of a Massachusetts AMA chapter, Tahir Ali, crowed that if Muslims “had voted like we did in previous elections, guess who would be president right now? Al Gore.” Republican leaders seeking Muslim support have accordingly paid lip-service to this strange logic: at an MPAC forum in January, Tom Davis, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, declared that without the AMPCC endorsement, “Florida would have been reversed.”
Whether or not they played a key role in George W. Bush’s election, he did repay them in several ways.
The president’s inaugural speech referred to “church and charity, synagogue and mosque” having “an honored place in our plans and in our laws.”
Sheikh Bassam Estwani, a member of CAIR’s advisory board, opened a session of the U.S. House of Representatives with an Islamic prayer.
At the end of January, Imam Hasan Qazwini was photographed next to President Bush (and other religious leaders) at a faith-based-initiative event held at the White House. Previously, he had been a member of a delegation of twenty-five national religious leaders who met Bush in Austin, Texas, on December 22, 2000.
Leading Republicans met with Islamist representatives from CAIR, MPAC, the AMC, and others to strengthen links on January 21, 2001. They discussed secret evidence legislation, the Post Office’s Ramadan stamp, the situation in “Palestine,” the Muslim community’s role in the election, and hiring Muslim applicants in the Bush administration. Party luminaries present included Newt Gingrich, John Sununu, Grover Norquist, and Tom Davis.
Already, however, there are complaints that Bush is not coming through on his “personal debt,” as Findley has put it, to Islamists. The former congressman notes that “in his brief time in the White House, Bush has already offended Muslims” by ordering air attacks on Baghdad, “sending messages of condolence over the death and injury of Israelis,” and “failing to appoint Muslims to senior positions in his administration.” If Islamist demands are not met, this type of complaints could lead AMPCC to withdraw its endorsement of Bush for 2004.
...efforts by Arab/Muslim PACs to raise money for George W. Bush were a spectacular failure. ... fundraising efforts for Hillary Clinton's high-profile New York senatorial campaign garnered her a $50,000 contribution from just one AMA event. ... advises Nayyer Ali in Pakistan Link: Muslims need to be within the political system if they are to influence it successfully...Hey, they've got Ron Paul.
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