Tulsi Gabbard Uses 9/11 Anniversary to Spread Islamophobic Message of Hate

Photograph Source: Gage Skidmore – CC BY 2.0

The former congresswoman, whose sycophants describe as “anti-imperialist,” has a history of anti-Muslim bigotry

Tulsi Gabbard on Saturday used the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks to promote an anti-Muslim message, the latest in a series of moves by the former congresswoman aimed at courting the right-wing.

“Let us #NeverForget that it was the Islamist ideology which inspired the terrorist attacks and declaration of war against America on 9/11,” Gabbard tweeted. “And it is this Islamist ideology that continues to fuel terrorist attacks around the world and is the foundation for so-called ‘Islamic’ countries like Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia’s discriminatory policies against Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists, etc.”

Gabbard’s remarks, which played on Islamophobic tropes, drew anger and condemnation from the left.

“If you support Tulsi, you are no better than the racist/fascists you claim to be against,” tweeted activist Linda Sarsour.

But critiques from progressives may actually boost Gabbard with her real audience. The right has been her home for some time.

Despite the portrayal of Gabbard in some left-adjacent circles as a principled anti-imperialist, the case for the former congresswoman holding those beliefs has never been strong. Supporters point to her opposition to the war in Syria as evidence of her anti-war bona fides, but that only works if you ignore her support for Russia doing the bombing.

The former congresswoman is also a strong supporter of the fascistic Hindutva movement that is ascendant in the Indian government. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has cracked down on Muslims in the country and fostered an ever-more dangerous Hindu supremacist culture throughout the nation.

Gabbard repeatedly criticized former President Barack Obama over the war on terror, but not for his use of drones which killed civilians with impunity. Rather, the then-congresswoman said that Obama’s refusal to label the enemy in strictly religious terms—radical Islam, Islamism, etc.—was incorrect and that the president should make clear that Muslims were the enemy.

Georgetown University’s Islamophobia research center, Bridge, described Gabbard’s views on Islam as “very similar to the claims made by anti-Muslim activists such as Frank Gaffney, Robert Spencer, and David Horowitz.”

At The Nation in 2019, Evan Hill summed up what Gabbard’s positions mean in practice:

Gabbard’s defenders have argued that she rightly seeks to “get out” of the Middle East and focus on greater threats, like terrorism and China. But that’s not where Gabbard’s policies would actually lead. The indefinite war against “extremist Islam” requires the United States to be very much “in” the Middle East, working hand in glove with some of the region’s worst actors. Gabbard’s strategy simply transfers the cost from our citizens to theirs.

Gabbard’s future ambitions do not lie on the left side of the political spectrum. Since her quixotic run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 failed, the former congresswoman’s politics have tilted further and further to the right, and she’s hardly been hesitant about it.

In December 2020, as her term in office approached its end and Congress was about to close session, Gabbard introduced two bills that showed what audience she planned to cultivate in her post-Democratic politics career.

The first, H.R. 8923, would have required that “a health care practitioner exercises the proper degree of care in the case of a child who survives an abortion or attempted abortion,” a protection that already exists. The other, the “Protect Women’s Sports Act of 2020,” would have changed Title IX to bar trans women from participating in women’s sports in schools.


As I wrote at the time, Gabbard’s motivations for this move were likely based in either pursuing a right-wing media career or pivoting to the GOP in a future election, or both. So far I was half right: Gabbard promptly moved to California and signed a lucrative contract with right-wing streaming service Rumble this summer just months after billionaire Peter Thiel invested in the platform.

What she plans to do next politically, if anything, remains to be seen (I’m betting a 2024 GOP presidential nomination is at least under consideration). But assuming Gabbard still has political aspirations, they’re likely on the right.

Today’s grotesque tweets, using 9/11 as an excuse to indulge in some of the uglier parts of her ideology, served another purpose—appealing to the people she relies on for revenue and, potentially, future political support.

This article first appeared at The Flashpoint, Eoin’s newsletter. Sign up here for 20% off.

Eoin Higgins is a journalist based in New England. He writes The Flashpoint newsletter. Reporting for this article was funded by a grant from the ExposeFacts program of the Institute for Public Accuracy.