Stephen shows Tennesseeans how to channel their Islamophobia
Cloned from the same pod that spawned noted Islamophobes Pam Geller, Frank Gaffney, and Louis Gomert, the Tennessee State Senate is jumping on the anti-Sharia bandwagon with legislation to protect its citizens from beards and burkas.
The Guardian reports:
The bill simplistically equates sharia with terrorism without any proof and declares that it is “treasonous” and incompatible with the US constitution. It incorrectly identifies sharia as a political doctrine that “requires all its adherents to actively support the establishment of a political society based upon sharia as foundational or supreme law and the replacement of any political entity not governed by sharia with a sharia political order.” The bill goes on to state: “Sharia requires all its adherents to actively and passively support the replacement of American constitutional republic, including the representative government of this state with a political system based upon sharia.”
The very start of the language of the bill is profoundly disturbing. Sharia is falsely equated with Islamic law. Sharia refers to God’s will, laws, principles and values, found in the Qur’an and the traditions of the prophet Muhammad. Islamic law is the product of early jurists who interpreted and developed during it in the early Islamic centuries.
The hysteria continues with unsubstantiated accusations: “The knowing adherence to sharia and to foreign sharia authorities is prima facie evidence of an act in support of the overthrow of the United States government and the government of this state through the abrogation, destruction, or violation of the United States and Tennessee Constitutions by the likely use of imminent criminal violence and terrorism with the aim of imposing sharia on the people of this state.”
The bill states that its goal is not to outlaw freedom of religion or the practice of Islam. However, though breathtakingly devoid of evidence of any call to impose sharia in Tennessee or anywhere else in the US, it uncritically condemns sharia and asserts that it represents a major threat to Tennessee, brush-stroking the vast majority of mainstream Muslims and Islam in America.
Tennessee is no stranger to bigotry. Last year, TPM Muckraker reported that:
In a free training session on Monday, John Guandolo, a former FBI agent and the vice president of the Virginia-based Strategic Engagement Group (SEG), spoke to law enforcement officers in Rutherford County, Tennessee, at the World Outreach Church. The seminar was part of a three-day training course about Islam and the threat of terrorism, and was attended by roughly 100 law enforcement officers in the area, according to Middle Tennessee Public Radio. The Sheriff’s Department in Rutherford County confirmed that 25 of its officers had attended the training course. WSMV-TV attempted to film the event, and their camera was pushed away by Guandolo. But, according to reporter Nancy Amons, “Guandolo talked about Hamas and its plan to destroy Western civilization from within, and spoke of Islamic centers as potential military compounds.”
One of those terrorist compounds presumably includes the newly constructed Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Permits didn’t come easy, necessitating intervention from a U.S. attorneys and a federal judge. During construction there was vandalism, a bomb threat, and an arson fire that destroyed construction equipment. Members of the congregation received various threats via phone calls, letters, and email..
Alleged Islamic terrorism compound at Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Bigotry by Tennessee officials isn’t limited to just Muslims, though. Earlier this month, U.S. Congressman Rep. Marsha Blackburn (yes, she insists on using the man suffix) voted against reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act signed into law by President Obama, explaining:
“I didn’t like the way it was expanded to include other different groups.”
By “other different groups”, Marsha of course means people that don’t look and act like her. The enhanced VAWA extends coverage for women in the LGBTQ, Native American, and immigrant communities. (As a paralegal working in Alaska in the mid ’90s, I can testify that violence against native Alaskan women is endemic. Too bad for them, in Martha’s World.)
Stephanie Northwood comments:
This law is important, and for the women it protected during its previous tenure, it was successful. Between 1993 and 2010 the rate of violence between intimate partners declined 67%. That is huge! Additionally, more instances of domestic violence are being reported to the police and are dealt with through arrests. The expansion of the law to cover the “different groups,” as Blackburn calls them, is absolutely necessary considering that three out of every five Native American women will endure violence by an intimate partner. Similarly, one out of every three to one out of every four same-sex relationships has endured domestic violence. The rate for heterosexual relationships is one out of four, thus showing women in same-sex relationships are fighting a very similar battle to that of heterosexual women. They deserve protection, too.
Everyone deserves protection from hypocritical, self-righteous, paranoid bigots. Do unto others, and all that.
NB: Concerned that I sound like I’m dumpin’ on Tennessee. Never been there and I’m sure it has its share of lovely people. My only connection to the state is that it is the birthplace of my treasured 12 string guitar that I’ve had and played for forty years. A shoutout to J.W. Gallagher & Son in Wartrace, Tenn.