“Independent. Loves military. Carries pocket constitution everywhere,” says Ben Domenech of Khizr Khan, the father of a fallen U.S. soldier who gave a stirring anti-Trump speech at last week’s Democratic convention. “Great job GOP.”
It’s rich, this sarcastic congratulations, coming as it does from a guy whose odious think-tank-welfare publication, The Federalist, published an article titled “Donald Trump Was Not Wrong About Muslim Immigration” not three weeks before Khan’s speech; tweets about “killer Muslims”; has backed Ted Cruz’s call for draconian surveillance of “Muslim neighborhoods”; alleged that the “goal” of advocacy group CAIR is to “create American Molenbeeks,” referring to the Brussels district where several of the Paris attackers lived; and has generally expended far more energy stigmatizing Muslims and encouraging Islamophobia than opposing the same. On issues of Islam, terrorism, and immigration, as on literally every other issue, The Federalist is a right-wing red-meat factory like any other, just with crass provocation (mostly) swapped out for pseudo-intellectual hand-waving—Breitbart for people who could, on their third guess, tell you who Edmund Burke was.
Not long after Domenech sent his tweet, Republican operative Patrick Ruffini sent one of his own: “We look forward to welcoming Khizr Khan at the 2020 Republican convention.” Ruffini’s tweet reflects a confidence among conservative elites that, following what will probably be a resounding electoral defeat for the overt racism of Donald Trump in November, the Republican party will simply be able to revert to the polite racism of Domenech’s Federalist without much trouble. Managing this reversion will be the principal project of conservatism’s myriad hacks and agitators and fabulists in 2017, in the same way that providing ideological cover for the intransigence and backlash of the early Obama era was their project in 2009.