"Do you really want a two-pirate ticket," Newt Gingrich rhetorically asked Donald Trump during an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity on Wednesday, essentially arguing against himself as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's running mate 36 hours before Trump was set to announce his pick.
But after an apparent terror attack thousands of miles away in Nice, France, caused Trump to postpone his vice presidential announcement on Thursday, the former speaker of the House doubled down on his reckless style of politics in either a last-ditch appeal to Trump or a craven elevation of his longstanding attacks on Islam.
Appearing on his show for the second time in as many days, Gingrich said Thursday that calling Islam a "religion of peace" is "bologna."
"It's not that Islamists are necessarily evil, but they're not necessarily a religion of peace."
Gingrich, whose favorite past time is targeting Muslims for ridicule and condemnation, then took his anti-Muslim rhetoric to the next level -- outdoing even the demagogue at the top of the GOP ticket.
"Let me be as blunt and direct as I can be. Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background, and if they believe in Sharia, they should be deported," Gingrich told Hannity, a suggestion so ridicules it elicited rare curiosity from the Fox News host.
"How do we ascertain -- how do you possibly ascertain whether or not that person really wants assimilation, really wants a new life, or whether or not they want to expand that caliphate, which is what we're at war against?" Hannity asked Gingrich.
"The first step is you have to ask them the questions," Gingrich responded. "The second step is you have to monitor what they're doing on the Internet. The third step is, let me be very clear, you have to monitor the mosques. I mean, if you're not prepared to monitor the mosques, this whole thing is a joke. Where do you think the primary source of recruitment is? Where do you think the primary place of indoctrination is? You've got to look at the madrassas -- if you're a school which is teaching Sharia, you want to expel it from the country."
"Sharia is incompatible with Western civilization," Gingrich ignorantly argued. Sharia, of course, is merely a code of conduct based on the Quran and other Islamic scriptures. Just like with many religious laws, observance of sharia ranges from fundamentalist to liberal in approach, but nearly ever practicing Muslim believes in sharia as laws like the call to fast during Ramadan is sharia.
"To suggest that Muslims are acceptable as long as they don’t believe in sharia is a little like saying Christians are OK as long as they don’t believe the Gospel," David A. Graham at the Atlantic writes. His colleague, Jeffrey Goldberg also points out that Gingrich's basic assertion that "Sharia is incompatible with Western civilization" is not borne out by the facts:
Israel, which is, by his lights—and mine—a crucial component of Western civilization. Israel’s sharia courts, which are supervised by the Ministry of Justice, allow the more than 15 percent of Israel’s population that is Muslim to seek religious recourse for their personal dilemmas. These courts have been in operation since Israel’s founding, and yet the country does not seem to have been fatally undermined by their existence.
Gingrich's proposal to violate the First Amendment right to freedom of religion for those U.S. citizens “of a Muslim background” and apparent call for mass deportation makes Trump's call to spy on mosques and temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the country looks moderate.
While many rightfully blame Trump's dangerous rhetoric for creating such an environment where open bigotry is tolerated, in reality, anti-Muslim bigotry in America for far too long has gone on unabated, often by the very same people who whine about a war against Christians. Gingrich has long been the leader of this brigade.
Despite his most disgusting pandering, however, Gingrich's last-ditch bid to move up in the Veepstakes consideration failed. Trump made his expected, and rather anti-climatic, running mate pick on Friday via his favorite social media platform. Indiana Governor Mike Pence is, indeed, his choice. Sorry Newt:
It's got to particularly sting for Gingrich considering Pence's public disapproval of Trump's anti-Muslim proposals: