Hillary Clinton’s Muslim problem isn’t actually her own Muslim problem. She’s spoken eloquently, several times now, about tolerance for Muslims. “Islam is not our adversary. Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism,” she said this week at the Council on Foreign Relations. “The obsession in some quarters with a clash of civilizations or repeating the specific words ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ isn’t just a distraction. It gives these criminals, these murderers, more standing than they deserve. It actually plays into their hands by alienating partners we need by our side.”
On the issue of Syrian refugees, where the right’s bigotry has been most starkly on display, Clinton was just as unequivocal: “We cannot allow terrorists to intimidate us into abandoning our values and our humanitarian obligations. Turning away orphans, applying a religious test, discriminating against Muslims, slamming the door on every Syrian refugee—that is just not who we are.”
With these and other points, in this and other fora, Clinton took a firm stand against Islamophobia. That’s why her Muslim problem is not her own. It stems, instead, from those most bedeviling of problems: her friends. One was the mayor of little Roanoke, Virginia, who released a statement citing the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II as part of his opposition to housing Syrian refugees. The mayor, David Bowers, sat on the Clinton campaign’s Virginia Leadership Council. Before the day he made his comments was out, so was he.
It will be more difficult for Clinton to distance herself from another friend, Haim Saban, who spent last Thursday trying to claw out of the hole he dug: Saban happens to be Clinton and her husband’s top political patron. An Israeli-American businessman, he came into billions of dollars in the entertainment business. According to The Washington Post, Saban and his wife have poured more than $2 million into Hillary Clinton’s presidential coffers; he has vowed to spend “as much as needed” to see her installed in the White House.
So it must’ve been with some apprehension that the Clinton camp watched as Saban contradicted all the basic tenets of what Clinton laid out in her remarks. In an interview with the Hollywood industry site the Wrap published on the same day as Clinton’s CFR speech, Saban said (with my emphasis):