Another week, another Lindsey.
Over at The Atlantic, Peter Beinart reports that ‘presidential hopeful’ Lindsey Graham, addressing the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, declared: ‘Everything I learned about Iranians I learned working in the pool room. I met a lot of liars, and I know Iranians are liars.’ Now, I know you had the same reaction to this unbelievable statement that I did: Lindsey Graham is running for office! And not just running, but as the foreign policy expert.
And everything he learned, he learned working in the pool room?
Graham is one of what now appear to be several dozen Republican candidates running for high office who make me think Steven Strauss is on to something with his eight shocking parallels between the United States and Rome, except that he stopped too soon. (#IX: New York City subway stations are early Roman urinariums; #X: Edward Gibbon prophesied the Christian Right would be the straw poll that broke the empire’s back. Etc.)
Beinart, a contributing editor for The Atlantic, has given considered attention (must-read) to a trend many Muslims have experienced for years now, and equally struggled for years to convince the rest of the world the reality of: Rampant Islamophobia, mostly but not always on the right. Vox’s Max Fisher is another journalist, exploring that it isn’t only on FOX News that Islamophobia is now rather ‘out of control’. I’m glad they’re writing, because getting mainstream recognition is necessary, if not sufficient.
For Islamophobia is a pernicious beast, as hard to slay as Smaug. Most often, Islamophobia takes the form of egregious generalizations, which if applied to other communities would make the speaker loathsome—‘I met a lot of liars, and I know Jews are liars’—or Chancellor Palpatine—‘I met a lot of liars, and I know Jedi are liars.’ The focus of the anti-Muslim bigot is, if you can’t tell yet, ‘lying’—the Muslim, it is argued, is a congenital deceiver, nearly Satanic (is that the dog whistle?) in his deceptiveness.
But the focus on lying reaps other tax-free dividends, in part because there is no easy way to prove you are not a liar. (Proving a negative, after all.) Consider: All Muslims are dishonest, and they’re at their most dishonest when they’re claiming to be honest. What could you possibly say to that?
Well, I’ve met a lot of Islamophobes, and I’ve learned: Take them at their word. Assume they’re not lying. Speak in their language. Ask to be invited to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, and speak back.
Here’s what I’d say:
Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for inviting me. I had been asked to speak at the Grand Conference to Undermine the West By Imposing Shari’ah and Universal Healthcare in Michiganistan, but I would much rather be here, especially because, thanks to my Caliph—I mean President—Obama, I have health insurance already. I am also greatly pleased to address the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, which I had never heard of before.
It’s not easy going on after Mr. Lindsey Graham, especially since I didn’t even know he was running for President, and now I feel like you’re going to contrast everything he made up about foreign policy with everything I know about foreign policy. But what he said is important, and deserves to be expounded on, and so that’s what I’m going to do. Because I, like you, can imagine a universe in which Lindsey Graham is our President, and, well, let’s not think too hard about the Book of Revelation.
I have a few questions, or rather concerns. The first of which is, what does Lindsey Graham mean by ‘I met a lot of liars’? Does he mean only working in the pool room, or in his years of service to the Republican Party, or in both? My second concerns Iran, and the threat Iran* poses. How do we keep our country safe from a country we have surrounded by military bases, and which we possess every conceivable tactical advantage over?
Because I am scared too. I could see why we, the most powerful country in the history of the world that is, additionally, as I can see from here, well-armed, would be trembling before a regional power that is firstly bogged down in a cruelly oppressive civil war in Syria and, secondly, with which we have allied strategically against ISIS. Shout out to Jeb Bush. I’m with you. (If the Iraqis didn’t have WMDs, how did Sayid Jarrah know how to disarm that nuke in the season 5 finale of Lost?)
For Lindsey Graham is right. Iranians are a dangerous, nasty, evil people. All of them. For one thing, they don’t even have a word for ‘lying’ in their language, which is Islamic. In fact, when Senator Al Franken’s book was published in Iran, it had to be titled Iranians and the Iranian Iranians Who Tell Them before it was burned. (Stops to recognize Terry Jones.) They don’t even celebrate Memorial Day… and who doesn’t celebrate Memorial Day except radical jihadists? But that’s not enough. No.
While I am glad Mr. Graham has rightly informed us Iranians are liars, he hasn’t given us enough information. Does he know when they’re not deceiving us? Does he have a lie-dar? Can he ship American jobs overseas, build it for cheap somewhere else thanks to a trade agreement whose name shall not be spoken, sell that lie-dar back to us at bargain prices and use his profits to build a Super PAC to make sure you, I, and everyone here, are focused not on wage gaps but Iranian liars?
For lie they do. But how much?
When crowds gather to chant ‘Death to America,’ do they really mean ‘Live Long and Prosper’? If so, was Spock a jihadist? Should we interrogate Zachary Quinto? When some Iranian leaders suggest Israel has no place in the Middle East, do they really mean Israel has a right to all of the Middle East? When they say they’re the resistance axis, do they mean they’re the compliance cartel? Or does Mr. Graham mean they’re always lying about everything, to the point of contradiction?
Ladies and Gentlemen, we need to know. We need to know when we’re being lied to. Is everything Iran does simply ‘taqiyya,’ that nefarious doctrine by which Muslims use any kind of jibber jabber to advance their real goals? And, don’t worry, I checked, but jibber jabber is a real word. Microsoft Word told me, and Microsoft Word is a real American, because Bill Gates is American. Those of you using iPhones, by the way, are probably Iranians and should be detained or deported.
Because Steve Jobs was part Syrian, and Syria is part Iranian, which means your iPhone auto-correct is lying to you. Come to think of it, how do we know Lindsey Graham is not lying to us? How do we know Lindsey Graham’s not an Iranian? What if he’s the Manchurian—or should I say Mazandaranian!—candidate, and not our crypto-Muslim communist atheist Kenyan Hawaiian President Obama? But rest assured, my fellow Americans.
I know Lindsey Graham is not an Iranian, not an extremist; not a Democrat in disguise. I can be trusted, not just because I have a flag pin on my lapel, which was made in China, which is where I’m shipping the jobs of three of the folks in the back to. But because my last name is Moghul, like the ski bump, or ‘business mogul,’** which is Persian for Mongol. Which means somewhere down the line, some of me is Iranian, which means I’m lying to you right now. About everything.
Especially the part about me being an Iranian. Oh, and by the way, many American Muslims are social conservatives. Well over half of us voted for Bush in 2000. If your leadership had any long-term strategy, it would realize the best rebuttal to an argument that you are just trying to dial us back to the Jim Crow south—wait, did someone cheer?—would be to break apart a growing alliance between the left and minority communities of color by using people of color, about whom it’s a lot harder to argue ‘you’re just poorly disguised Southern white supremacists,’ to argue your points. But that would mean talking to people who are lying to you, like I am right now.
Thank you, and God bless America.
*For least accuracy and most patriotism, please pronounce ‘Iran’ as ‘Eye-ran.’ As in, ‘Eye-ran for office, even though Eye didn’t have a chance.’
**Crowd should genuflect at any mention of capitalism, wealth, or free market.