THE BLOG

Jeff Greene's McCain Moment

06/30/2010 02:18 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Florida Democratic Senate candidate Jeff Greene was quoted in a Washington Post feature article saying that the Quran contains, "all kinds of crazy stuff. And unfortunately that's motivating a lot of these extremists." Greene's campaign responded quickly, insisting that he was quoted out of context. However, highlighting Greene's complete remarks only further puts his ignorance on display, particularly when one considers the question posed to him.

Question:

I don't know what's going on in the Muslim world. They are scaring me very much. Over in Europe, there are Muslims taking over the population. Here in America, they talk about building a mosque at the scene of the Twin Towers. What is your take on what's going on, really, and what can be done if there is a bigger problem?

Greene's answer:

I'm not an expert on Muslims. It is my understanding that there are 1.2 billion Muslims, and that about 200 million of them are pretty devout followers of parts of the Quran. Parts of it that say something like, everyone has a chance to accept Allah and Muhammad's teachings, and if they don't the infidels must be killed, there's all kinds of this crazy stuff. I think, unfortunately, that's motivating extremists. Most Muslims are like everyone else in the world -- they want peace. But there are people that follow some of those crazy teachings, you know, the suicide bombers.

It's a scary world out there. I believe what I read in the media, and I'm scared, and I'm scared for the world, and I'm scared for America, and that's why I'm running for office. Like I said earlier, we have to make our enemies tremble. We have to stand by our friends, be they Europeans or Israel or anywhere, and not let these extremists do anything to destroy the wonderful lives we've created for ourselves.

The only part that is correct is Greene's acknowledgment that "I'm not an expert on Muslims." The rest is a gross caricature of the Quran and the faith of more than a billion people -- and a missed opportunity to educate a prejudicial questioner.

With America engaged in two wars in the Muslim world and with critical national security interests at stake, the last thing we need is for candidates like Greene to deepen the divide and put us all at greater risk by displays of ignorance. Greene just had his McCain moment (when a voter accused President Obama of being an "Arab" during a campaign rally in the 2008 presidential race, McCain responded by saying "No, ma'am. He is a decent family man." McCain failed to respond to the bigotry of the question then as Greene did now). That is truly unfortunate for all Floridians, and especially hurtful to Muslim Americans in the Sunshine State.