Patrick Colbeck is a two-term Republican state senator from western Wayne County who is also running for governor in Michigan.
Last week, Buzzfeed published a video of Colbeck discussing what he perceived to be the threat of Islam to American politics. He was reportedly presenting a slideshow before a group called United West, which is considered an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In his presentation, Colbeck cited three examples of Muslim threats to state government: the city council of Hamtramck, Muslim lawmakers sitting in the state Capitol, and Abdul El-Sayed, a Muslim who is one of the Democratic candidates for governor.
Colbeck has said his comments were about protecting America, and American democracy, from an invasion of sorts - an effort by Muslims to infiltrate our political system and somehow replace democracy with Sharia law.
But to many people, Colbeck’s words were a frontal assault on the idea of being Muslim and American. They were in lock-step with the longtime Republican narrative that seeks to prey on white American fears of people who are different, and to scapegoat ethnic minority groups for the country’s problems.
In response to Colbeck’s original comments regarding El-Sayed,a spokeswoman for the Michigan Republican Party, told Detroit media outlets:
“The party isn’t interested in peddling any conspiracy theories and anything he said was not on behalf of the party… We categorically condemn any sort of hate speech, regardless of the source.”
To hear an interview with Colbeck on Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.
You can also listen here to an interview from June 6, 2018 with Abdul El-Sayed, wherein the candidate discusses his faith, and the role Islam plays in his political and personal life: