Having first appeared on the sides of buses in San Francisco in August, then allowed in the New York subway in September, Islamophobe Pamela Geller's incendiary anti-jihad ads are now awaiting a judge's decision to determine whether they can be displayed in D.C. metro stations. The ads read, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.” The tagline elucidates who's who: “Support Israel/Defeat Jihad.”
The rather odd phraseology turns out to come from a 1973 interview with Ayn Rand, the cranky libertarian philosopher once beloved of GOP vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan. In the midst of the Yom Kippur War, Rand found Israel worthy of support despite its socialist-leaning economy: "When you have civilized men fighting savages, you support the civilized men, no matter who they are." The Arabs, she claimed, were uncivilized nomads.
What is striking about Geller's anti-jihad jihad, however, is how isolated it is this election cycle. In 2010, she was able to lead the charge against mosque-building and "sharia law" that served the GOP well as a wedge issue.
But since then, the courts have upheld the religious liberty of Muslims across the board--refusing to permit the mosques to be stopped and throwing out the anti-sharia laws. Meanwhile, all but those on the extreme right wing seem to have recognized that it's bad form to assail an American community's free exercise of religion while lambasting the Obama Administration for attacking religion. Thus, Geller has been reduced to the level of senescent Harold Camping, with his 2011 billboard-and-placard campaign to announce the end of the world.
So far as I can see, the closest the GOP has come to playing the Muslim card is an oblique paragraph in its 2012 Platform:
Subjecting American citizens to foreign laws is inimical to the spirit of the Constitution. It is one reason we oppose U.S. participation in the International Criminal Court. There must be no use of foreign law by U.S. courts in interpreting our Constitution and laws. Nor should foreign sources of law be used in State courts’ adjudication of criminal or civil matters.
Personally, I prefer the mot of the early-20th-century journalist Helen Rowland: "There is a vast difference between the savage and the civilized man, but it is never apparent to their wives until after breakfast."