Far-right Republican Ted Cruz has said some pretty ridiculous things in the past few years, but his latest rant, in which he discusses a "jihad" by LGBT people might be one of his weirdest ever.
On Friday, Right Wing Watch released a video of Cruz — who has raised a stunning $31 million in super PAC funding in the past week — telling a group of Iowa home-school educators that the backlash to controversial "religious freedom" bills in Indiana and Arkansas was part of a "jihad" against "people of faith who respect the biblical teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman."
According to Mediaite, the video was recorded at a meeting of the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators. Right Wing Watch notes the panel was "moderated by conservative talk show host Steve Deace, who regularly castigates what he calls the "Rainbow Jihad." (Deace, for what it's worth, describes the gay rights battle as being about a "'right' to sexual perversion" backed by "cultural Marxists.")
While every other likely or announced Republican presidential candidate has expressed support for Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and his state's law, Cruz appears to be the first to suggest that opponents of the bill resemble the Islamic State. It's a patently silly comparison: Boycotts, angry calls to legislators and concern over the rights of LGBT people are completely incomparable to terrorist attacks and human rights violations committed by the Muslim extremists Cruz evokes.
It's even more fanciful when you consider that neither gay rights nor Muslim extremism pose much actual threat to Americans. A U.S. citizen is more likely to die from a lightning strike than in a terrorist attack of any variety. The anti-gay owners of Memories Pizza in Indiana, who supposedly were terrified into closing their restaurant by a stream of vitriolic threats, received over $840,000 from right-wing donors for their trouble. If some Christians feel threatened by surging support for a vision of marriage they disagree with, then too bad — no one is discussing taking their rights away. In fact, the opposite is true.
Cruz is tilting at windmills, and it's disturbing to watch. If he truly believes in a "gay jihad," then that alone should be enough to disqualify him from presidency. And if he's just pandering to the most ignorant wings of the GOP, well, that shameless cynicism and willingness to please should do the same. Even if this kind of extreme rhetoric somehow manages to carry Cruz through the brutal primary season, it will ensure he loses by huge margins in the general election.
Small wonder no one takes his campaign seriously. The brightest stars burn out the fastest, right?