By Clay Parlette
Since our country’s founding, we have always been guilty of treating one or more groups of people unfairly for a multitude of sometimes compelling, yet always insignificant reasoning. In the earliest days and up until very recent times, African Americans were the victims of America’s mistreatment. Native Americans, Irish, Polish, Jews, Roman Catholics, Chinese, Japanese, and Mexicans have also all experienced harsh treatment by the government and their fellow citizens. For many of these shady times in our history, America has owned up to our misdeeds, acknowledging them in textbooks, evolving our laws, and even trying to compensate for years of damages. Yet, even as we progress into a better society, America has picked up yet another piece of baggage that matches our historic trend toward iniquity. In 2015, this blemish can be reasonably referred to as Islamophobia.
Just a few weeks ago, a major candidate for president made the suggestion that the “US shouldn’t elect a Muslim president.” And why, Dr. Carson? Does the First Amendment not apply to Muslims in this country? Meanwhile, talking heads in the news media and social media are freely throwing around conspiracy theories for what they see as an imminent threat to our freedom. To these uneducated dunderheads, Muslims are an enemy that threatens our country with everything from terrorist attacks to “Sharia Law.” Perhaps it’s human nature to have irrational fears like this, but when the facts are examined, it’s clear that most of our fears are quite unsubstantiated.
The United States is and always has been a secular nation—at least constitutionally. Yet, the basic definition of Sharia Law, “God’s Law” as prescribed in the Quran, can be widely found as actual American law, only in Christian form. For our purposes, we’ll call it “Christian Sharia Law.” Look no further than the issue of Sunday liquor sales; the basis of laws like this are found in the Bible’s proclamation of Sunday as the “holy day.” Lawmakers, in turn, found it to be blasphemous to allow Sunday sales of liquor and made it, in many states, illegal. Not quite a separation of church and state, is it? And then we look to the Right’s newly championed celebrity, the long-haired, blubbering ignoramus county clerk, Kim Davis, who, when asked by reporters under who’s authority she was acting as she violated Federal Court orders, sternly responded, “Under God’s authority.” Gee, sounds a lot like something similar to be found in Sharia law.
The examples of religious laws in the United States are endless, yet significant portions of people find no issue with them. Even with the clarity of the First Amendment, we conveniently look over these discrepancies, unless they happen to relate to Islam. In fact, recent polls indicate that 33 percent of Iowa Republicans and 40 percent of North Carolina Republicans believe that Islam should actually be illegal. What the segment fails to recognize is that the problem is not Islam, it is extremism within Islam. No matter how much you want to argue your case that Muslims are a threat to this country, you are simply wrong. Extremists exist in all facets of religion. Keep in mind that the KKK, the Westboro Baptist Church, and the “Army of God” are all prime examples of “Christians” that have done terrible things in the name of God. Just as these extremists don’t speak for the majority of Christians, Islamic extremists don’t speak for the majority of Muslims.
One last statistic to mull over would be a quote from a recent study by the New America Foundation—the study quoted by The New York Times, Time magazine, NBC, and others—that “Almost twice as many people have died in attacks by right-wing groups in America than have died in attacks by Muslim extremists.” Are Muslim extremists a problem? Yes, but so are extremists on any level. Islam is not the problem. Evil is.
It would be interesting to see how hard Mike Huckabee would’ve fought for Ms. Davis if she would’ve been a Muslim woman who refused to issue marriage licenses to previously divorced couples or women who refused to wear a head covering. After all, the argument Huckabee so haughtily tries to assert would have to apply to all religions. Let’s stop the accusations and the stereotypes and instead focus on the things that really matter. And tread lightly, America, lest history call our blunder once again.