On Loretta’s Latest ‘Not Ready for Prime Time’ Moment: Stop Encouraging the Miscreants!

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Taken from the Daily Mail, credited to the Associated Press.

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (taken from the Daily Mail credited to the Associated Press) in a not-so-good mood at a hearing.

Loretta Sanchez is not, despite what some people around here assert, a dummy or a dolt or a lightweight.  (Throw your mud at her in the comments if you must.)  In the above photo of her at a Homeland Security Committee hearing, she’s laying into then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel about his being too cavalier about giving arms to our Syrian allies given the (now-validated) concern that they would end up being taken by DAESH (ISIS/ISIL.)  That was a valid concern and, as you might perceive, she expressed it passionately.

But, oooo-weeee, is she ever undisciplined!  And when she is undisciplined, she can swan dive into an empty pool.  That’s what she did in an interview with Larry King earlier today, when she said this:

“We know that there is a small group, and we don’t know how big that is — it can be anywhere between 5 and 20 percent, from the people that I speak to — that Islam is their religion and who have a desire for a caliphate and to institute that in any way possible.

“They are not content enough to have their way of looking at the world, they want to put their way on everybody in the world.  And again, I don’t know how big that is, and depending on who you talk to, but they are certainly — they are willing to go to extremes. They are willing to use and they do use terrorism.”

Politico (see the link above) got some additional, inadequate, damage-control commentary:

Emily Morris, a spokeswoman for Sanchez, said there are varying figures on Muslims who support a caliphate. Morris stressed that Sanchez also said in the original interview that it’s unknown how large that pool is.

“I strongly support the Muslim community in America and believe that the overwhelming majority of Muslims do not support terrorism or ISIS. We must enlist the voices of the Muslim community in our fight against ISIS instead of alienating them through fear-mongering and discrimination.”

The first problem with her original statement is that it’s not clear whether she’s talking about Muslims within the U.S. or Muslims worldwide.  If it’s the latter, I don’t know whether the “5%-20%” figure is true — but I’m pretty confident that they did not get a representative sample of Muslims to find out.  (Indonesians and Nigerians, for example, are a huge proportion of the world’s total — and neither seem to be baying to be ruled by a Syrian or Iraqi caliph.)  Anyway, I’d treat this like a figure that 5% of white Americans and Europeans might favor a genocide of Muslims — it’s sad and disturbing that some people would say this, but it also sounds like ignorant bravado and smack talk.

But, if she’s saying that this is true of American Muslims, then it’s incredibly, irresponsibly, intensively out of line.  And her “clarification” doesn’t help much.

After she was called out, she said that “the overwhelming majority of Muslims do not support terrorism or ISIS.”  What’s meant there by “overwhelming”?  Maybe 80%?  Maybe 95%?

Well, those numbers are just the flip side of “5%-20%” — meaning that by her own statement she could be talking about 1-in-5 to 1-in-20 American Muslims.  Potentially worse odds, in other words. than Russian roulette”!

If you’re going to say that that high of a proportion of an unpopular minority in the United States holds such attitudes, you had damn well have your freaking numbers down and a citation in hand, because that sort of loose talk can get innocent people killed! 

It’s not clear what figures she’s citing, and who she meant by “the people that I speak to” — but there are some notable whack jobs out there right now, peddling discredited figures to prop up the likes of Donald Trump, and if they are inside of her bubble then that’s a huge problem.  And, of course other notable whack jobs — vigilantes — are ready to act on their prejudices, especially if bolstered by a supposedly liberal Democrat.

To see how these terms fan the fires of bigotry, we need look no further than to our own fervent local race-baiter of late, Matt Cunningham. He says:

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, Anaheim native and U.S. Senate candidate, said during an interview with Larry King that as many as 20% of Muslims worldwide support the creation of a caliphate. There are an estimated 1.6 billion adherents of the Muslim faith in the world. That’s a caliphaticos.

(If you’re wondering what “a caliphaticos” is, I can’t help you.  No idea.)

But note what the Teddy Bear Mangler does with her statement.  He both minimizes it — inserting the word “worldwide” that downplays her mistake, without any citation showing that she clarified it — and mischaracterizes it: it’s not just people who support a caliphate but who favor terrorism as a means to do so!

Then, beyond that, he suggests that her rival Senate candidate Kamala Harris and “left-wing activists within the Democratic Party” aren’t commenting on her statement — in an apparent attempt to normalize this sort of bigotry.  (“As even Loretta Sanchez admits….”)

As a “local left-wing activist,” I’m glad to put the lie to Cunningham’s latter claim: this sort of statement and incoherent explanation would be a disaster coming from a sitting Democratic Senator.  There ya go!

It’s nice that Loretta says, correctly: “We must enlist the voices of the Muslim community in our fight against ISIS instead of alienating them through fear-mongering and discrimination” — but part of not “alienating them” is not saying stupid and flighty things about them — things that FUEL both “fear-mongering and discrimination.”

Notably, did you note who’s not commenting on her statement?  Cunningham.  In fact, it seems to, if anything, please him.  He doesn’t take a shot at this Democrat; he appreciates how she shields him from charges of bigotry when he does the same thing.  That’s some real political damage done there; the world’s Cunninghams will refer to it again and again until she does a better and smarter job of clarification.

I’ve been pretty lonely in Orange County as a Democratic supporter of Kamala Harris — both the parties “moderate” old guard, and the progressives who value their relationship with the dean of the local Democratic electeds, don’t want to risk alienating her — but this reinforces my view.  Republican Senators can get away with crazy talk; no one expects anything else from them.  But a Democratic Senator from one of the most populous states — what they say becomes a real problem.  I don’t think that Kamala would say something this nutty and this incendiary this freely — and, while I’m not normally one to overvalue politeness, this is NOT the sort of demeanor that we should want in a U.S. Senator.

P.S.: Chumley’s brilliantly timed headline story today began with this sentence: “There’s no doubt that Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez’s campaign is picking up steam.”  Oh, there’s some doubt, I suspect.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)