If the last two elections are any indication, candidates in the 2016 presidential race may be tempted to engage in Muslim-bashing - playing off national security anxieties and fostering racial and religious animus - to win the vote.
But anti-Muslim bigotry comes at a high cost to American Muslims, to America's international stature, and increasingly, to the political careers of those who fuel it.
It was not long ago that American Muslim children watched leaders "accuse" President Obama of being a Muslim, as if there is something inherently wrong with the world's second largest religion or its 1.5 billion adherents.
Since then, a number of U.S. elected officials continue to contribute to the prevailing climate of intolerance and discrimination confronting American Muslims.
Just a few weeks ago, for instance, a South Carolina lawmaker took up an anti-Islam bill in his local legislature, part of a larger trend across our nation. In April, an IdahoGOP newsletter included an article, "Islam in Idaho." It warned that Muslims are "infiltrating" the state and depicted the group as "ready to rise up and kill" non-Muslims. Just one month earlier, a local lawmaker in Maine posted a Facebook comment implying that President Obama's relatives, some of whom happen to be Muslim, are ISIS members and supporters.
Tragically, in the post 9/11 era, Islamophobia has become a defining feature of American politics.
Still, those entering the 2016 race would do well to reflect upon the demise of bigoted colleagues who engaged in such irresponsible political gamesmanship. Increasingly, Americans are rejecting such antics.
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