- I asked Mr. Romney whether he would consider including qualified Americans of the Islamic faith in his cabinet as advisers on national security matters, given his position that "jihadism" is the principal foreign policy threat facing America today. He answered, "…based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration."
Gov. Romney's response, if it has been accurately reported, is disquieting in several ways. First, he seems to be ruling out an entire class of potentially qualified and relevant advisors for cabinet-level service on the basis of religion. This smacks of discrimination against a particular religious group--an odd stance given that the Governor himself is arguing elsewhere that people shouldn't discriminate against his own religious views.
Second, Gov. Romney's statement further suggests that certain types of representation will be a factor in making cabinet-level appointments. Were a Democratic candidate to express the same views, he or she would immediately be accused of establishing quotas. In the Governor's mindset, some groups are justified in getting cabinet positions based on their population numbers, and other groups aren't.
Finally and most importantly, the statement undermines Gov. Romney's claim that "defeating the jihadists" is his primary policy goal. For example, Gov. Romney has previously stated that, "as we stare at the face of radical violent Jihad and at the prospect of nuclear epidemic, our military might should not be subject to the whims of ever-changing political agendas." However, his response to Mr. Ijaz indicates that qualifications for contributing to national security concerns are trumped by another agenda, religious belief.
P.S. Governor Romney has made a similar statement against Muslims serving in the cabinet before.