Wisconsin governor, presidential candidate and deep thinker Scott Walker will not be apologizing, exactly, for a recent statement that there are only a “handful” of “reasonable, moderate followers of Islam.” Walker’s campaign told one newspaper everyone is “reading too much” into the comment. Meanwhile, the candidate himself busied himself with an event in Tennesee called “Boots & Jeans, BBQ and Beans” and did not elaborate.
Walker made the “reasonable” comments at a campaign stop at a VFW hall in New Hampshire. He thinks “radical Islam” is bad, unlike President Obummer:
“If you’re fighting a war, you’ve got to identify who the enemy is loud and clear. We’ve said it repeatedly — it’s radical Islamic terrorism,” Walker said. “It is a war against not only America and Israel, it’s a war against Christians, it’s a war against Jews, it’s a war against even the handful of reasonable, moderate followers of Islam who don’t share the radical beliefs that these radical Islamic terrorists have.”
The Council on American Islamic Relations pointed out that Walker sure seems to be saying that the vast majority of Muslims are not moderate or reasonable, and asked the governor for an apology. CAIR’s government affairs manager Robert McCaw said, “These types of inaccurate statements reflect a lack of understanding of Islam and Muslims that is, frankly, not presidential.”
Not presidential maybe, but very much in character for a candidate in a Republican primary: saying something that closely skirts the borders of xenophobia and racism, then receding while your campaign tries half-heartedly to clean it up, but not so much that your voter base won’t know that you meant precisely what you said. Walker spokesperson AshLee Strong said in a statement to the Wisconsin State Journal that Walker totally knows there are other kinds of Muslims or whatever:
“The Governor knows that the majority of ISIS’s victims are Muslims. Muslims who want to live in peace — the majority of Muslims — are the first target of radical Islamic terrorists. Under the Obama-Clinton foreign policy doctrine, we’ve been abandoning our traditional Muslim allies in the Middle East and allowing ISIS, al Qaeda, and Iran to fill the void.”
Strong did not respond to questions Friday about whether the governor simply misspoke. Asked again on Saturday whether the governor meant what he said Friday or wished to call back those comments, Strong declined to answer, saying only that the State Journal was “reading too much into ‘handful,’ “ and that the campaign’s follow-up statement about Muslims wanting to live in peace encompassed “exactly what he was saying.”
Walker paired his silence on the issue with a series of appearances at the most America Fuck Yeah events he could find:
It’s been mentioned more than once that Walker’s foreign policy stance is dangerously naive, composed mostly of blustery rhetoric and vows to invade places or at least very sternly put foreign leaders in time-out. As the Intercept pointed out recently, he’s also given a lot of credit to an unofficial foreign policy adviser named Kevin Hermening, who advocated in the past for dropping nuclear weapons on the vast majority of Muslim countries and deporting every undocumented person, with a special focus on those of “Middle Eastern descent.”
Scott Walker: definitely not saying all Muslims are terrorists. Just basically, pretty much, mostly saying it.
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Walker speaks to press outside Dreamland BBQ in Birmingham, AL, August 22. Photo via AP Images