Steve Lonegan on Syrian “Others”

So, as some of you may know, we’ve got a special election happening tomorrow here in New Jersey, pitting Democrat Cory Booker, the current Mayor of Newark, against Republican Steve Lonegan, the former Mayor of Bogota. The race got a lot of headlines in the past few days after Rick Shafan, a (since fired) senior staffer with the Lonegan campaign, said that Booker’s communications with a Portland stripper sounded like “what a gay guy would say.” He went on to explain in stomach-churning detail what he (as a representative of straight guys everywhere) would have said to the same stripper. If you haven’t read about it, check it out.

But back in September, we got a recorded phone call from Lonegan, urging us to come to a rally in Montclair against military intervention in Syria. Now, while I doubt that I agree with Lonegan on just about any other issue, I am glad that we found a way not to get involved in another war (even if it was going to be “just” airstrikes).

The American’s-bombing-people-in-Syria issue, is settled, at least for the moment, but there was something telling in the phrasing of the phone message. Here’s my transcript:

America is on the verge of another war, a war we can not afford. A war where we do not belong. I’m Steve Lonegan, I’m the Republican candidate for the United States Senate. Please join me this evening in Montclair at 12 Church Street for our anti-war rally.
We should not be putting our money, our troops, and our nation in harm’s way in a war in Syria that will result in the death of thousands of Syrian Christians, Jews, and Others.
We simply do not belong there. There is no excuse for this war. None. Please send our message to our elected representatives across this state and across this country: “No . . .”

That’s where our answering machine cut off. I assume the message was something along the lines of “No war!”

The interesting part of the message was “Syrian Christians, Jews, and Others.” Hmmm . . .

Here’s my read on this. I have no evidence to suggest that Steve Lonegan himself has anything against Muslims. He might, but I’m happy to give him the benefit of the doubt here.

However, it does seem clear that he is unwilling to say that he is against killing Muslims.

Here’s how I picture the strategy meeting:

STAFFER 1: Okay, it looks like Obama is going to war against Syria. We’re tying Booker to Obama, so we need to come out against the war.

STAFFER 2: But we have to be careful. Killing Muslims is still polling very strong with our base.

STAFFER 1: I’ve got it! We refer to Syrian Muslims as “Others”.  That way we avoid appearing sympathetic to them, and in fact, contributes literally to the “Othering” of Muslims, sensu De Beauvior.

STAFFER 2: We’ve got a mole!

Sadly, STAFFER 1’s body was never found.

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