Reminder: Nikki Haley is a Secret Muslim Whore


Originally posted at David Horowitz’s NewsReal

Nikki Haley whupped a whole lotta good ol’ boy ass in the South Carolina GOP gubernatorial primary, trouncing her establishment opponents at the polls and leaving behind a battered pile of the state’s nastiest corruptocrats and sleazebags. And boy are they pissed.

Now, just a month after Haley’s victory, one Republican cartoonist has emerged from his gutter to dredge up the same vile race-baiting and sexism that failed to derail her primary campaign. In a cartoon published Tuesday (pictured above), Robert Ariail portrays the Indian-American gubernatorial candidate as a bikini-clad pageant queen in the first panel and a niqab-clad Muslim in the second. The cartoon explicitly echos previous race-, religion-, and gender-based attacks against Haley, a practicing Methodist raised in the Sikh tradition by her immigrant parents.

Ariail depicts Haley as a radical Muslim posing as an all American pageant contestant so she can put one over on voters. He claims that’s totally different than when State Senator Jake Knotts described Haley as “a raghead that’s ashamed of her religion trying to hide it behind being Methodist for political reasons.”

The cartoon on Ms. Haley is, I think, pretty straight forward: It contrasts her campaign’s message of open government and transparency ( which I support) with her recent closed-door meetings, her refusal to release House e-mail accounts and her explanations on consulting fees and what she did to earn them. The cartoon is neither salacious nor an ethnic or religious slur. I came up with the idea of her as “Miss Transparency” wearing the title sash and bikini and chose the burqa as the best clothing metaphor representing the opposite of transparency. The burqa is a visual metaphore I’ve used before to make similar points.

Let’s get this out of the way right now: no one in South Carolina has taken greater risks to improve government transparency than Nikki Haley. These unimaginably titillating messages that might or might not lurk in her email archives are part of a manufactured controversy, one that provided an excuse for Ariail to revive the “Nikki Haley is a slutty secret Muslim” meme with his cartoon. He continues:

It is not about Ms. Haley’s religion- after all, she was a Sikh, not a Muslim, before she became a Christian. Anyone who claims this cartoon is an ethnic or religious slur is deliberately misconstruing its simple, issue-oriented meaning.

Oh, of course. Can’t you see? The cartoon wasn’t about religion because the enlightened Mr. Ariail knows the difference between Muslims and Sikhs. That’s why he couldn’t possibly have intended his cartoon as a dog whistle to alert the state’s bigots that Nikki Haley is different and ethnic and not really one of us. And it never crossed Ariail’s mind that depicting Haley in a niqab was awfully reminiscent of the “raghead” incident (or that drawing her in a bikini next to the words “what she promises” would remind his audience of the Haley sex scandal that wasn’t).

Spare me.

There are dozens if not hundreds of simple, reliable visual metaphors to convey lack of transparency. Either Robert Ariail is the most tone deaf cartoonist in the business, or he deliberately attempted to stoke doubt about a female candidate of Indian descent in the minds of bigots. The former is unlikely. A talented two-time Pulitzer finalist like Ariail doesn’t achieve that level of success without a keen eye for subtext and nuance in politics.

Tapping into ethnic and religious bigotry is a repugnant political tactic. Fortunately, South Carolinians have proven it’s an ineffective one as well.

(Originally posted at David Horowitz’s NewsReal Blog)

Follow Jenn on Twitter and read more of her work at JennQPublic.com and The Feminist Hawks’ Nest at NewsReal.


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