In a classic case of not knowing one’s audience, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Tea Party leader and potential 2016 Presidential candidate, was soundly booed off stage while delivering a speech at an Arab Christian conference in Washington, D.C. Wednesday night. Cruz was the keynote speaker at the event, hosted by the non-profit organization In Defense of Christians. The Texas senator began his speech discussing the need to defend Christians in the Middle East from terrorism. However, he quickly switched gears and essentially lectured Arab Christians to accept and embrace Israel and that Christians and Jews in the region need to form an alliance.
“Tonight, we are all united in defense of Christians. Tonight, we are all united in defense of Jews. Together, against those who would persecute and murder those who dare disagree with their religious teachings.”
At that point, jeers started emanating from the crowd. Sensing the crowd was turning on him, Cruz claimed that those booing him were anti-Semitic.
“Those who hate Israel hate America. Those who hate Jews hate Christians. If those in this room will not recognize that, then my heart weeps…If you hate the Jewish people you are not reflecting the teachings of Christ.”
That statement certainly didn’t make things better for Cruz. It also wasn’t helpful when he lumped Hamas and Hezbollah with ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Considering the number of Lebanese in the audience, along with people who support Palestine, the following comment was just plain stupid.
“Religious bigotry is a cancer with many manifestations. ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, state sponsors like Syria and Iran, are all engaged in a vicious genocidal campaign to destroy religious minorities in the Middle East…Sometimes we are told not to loop these groups together…that we have to understand their so called nuances and differences. But hate is hate, and murder is murder. Our purpose here tonight is to highlight a terrible injustice, a humanitarian crisis.”
At that moment, the hatred for Cruz was palpable, and members of the crowd were openly yelling for him to leave the stage. The hosting organization’s president, Toufic Baaklini, took to the stage and asked the audience to let Cruz finish his speech. However, the crowd was having none of it, and they continued to shower Cruz with their disapproval. Finally, Cruz wrapped up his speech with the following remarks:
“I will say this. If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you. Thank you and God bless you.”
Below is video of the tail end of Cruz’s speech:
It appears that Cruz’s Dominionist roots got the best of him with this speech and he decided to push his beliefs, even when it was apparent that his remarks were not going to be even remotely accepted. Of course, this is a man whose father, and other pastors, anointed him as a messiah. It is quite possible that Cruz thinks that the end-times are near and that he will be the man who joins and leads the believers against the non-believers when God comes down to Earth to reign. Therefore, in his mind, Cruz thinks that he can waltz into a conference filled with people who have vastly different philosophical beliefs and political worldviews and unite them with his amazing oratory.
After the speech, Cruz released a statement blaming the reception on, you guessed it, anti-Semitism.
“When I spoke in strong support of Israel and the Jewish people, who are being persecuted and murdered by the same vicious terrorists who are also slaughtering Christians, many Christians in the audience applauded. But, sadly, a vocal and angry minority of attendees at the conference tried to shout down my expression of solidarity with Israel. They cannot shout down the truth. And we should not shy away from expressing the truth, even in the face of — especially in the face of — ignorance and bigotry.
I came to this event tonight to help shine a light on the tragic persecution and slaughter of Christians by ISIS and Islamic radicals throughout the Middle East. American leaders have been far too silent as to this horrific evil. But bigotry and hatred have no place in this discussion. Anti-Semitism is a corrosive evil, and it reared its ugly head tonight.”
Cruz’s daddy might have told him he was the messiah, but my guess is we are going to see more and more instances like this one in the future if Cruz is really serious about running in 2016. It is one thing to make speeches in front of ‘safe’ crowds like the ones Cruz is used to. It is another to have to campaign on a national scale and appeal to a wide range of people.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).