How unbelievably pathetic.

(Salon) — A decade after 9/11, Muslim-baiting has become de rigueur for Republican politicians — especially those who aspire to the party’s 2012 presidential nomination.

Fear of Islam among the Republican Party’s base — the very voters GOP White House candidates will be wooing during the 2012 primary season — has been primed for years by the so-called anti-jihad industry. It was further inflamed by 2010’s “ground zero mosque” controversy, and the subsequent wave of anti-sharia legislation. Also lurking in the background, crucially, is the false rumor that President Obama is a Muslim — a rumor that, according to one August 2010 poll, 46 percent of Republicans believe.

All of this is forcing Republican presidential hopefuls into a game of Islamophobic one-upmanship in which crossing the line is inevitable. As the primary field takes shape and the race unfolds, we’ll be keeping tabs on how the candidates try to differentiate themselves from each other — and stand out in the eyes of their target voters — on this issue with a regularly updated list that ranks the most extreme instances of campaign trail Muslim-baiting. So make sure to bookmark this page and check back frequently. (And if you see an example that belongs on the list, send an email to [email protected].)

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