Republicans And Sharia Law

Showing the on-going vigilance of Republicans to defend against imaginary threats, from ACORN to NPR, Ben Smith reports that the potential candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination are staking out their positions on sharia law. While “the exact mechanics of how sharia, or Islamic jurisprudence, is threatening the United States are unclear” he notes that “the issue resonates with many GOP primary voters.” Republicans gave the following positions:

Tim Pawlenty, facing questions about a sharia compliant mortgage program: “The United States should be governed by the U.S. Constitution, not religious laws.”

A spokesman: “As soon as Gov. Pawlenty became aware of the issue, he personally ordered it shut it down. Fortunately, only about three people actually used the program before it was terminated at the Governor’s direction.”

Sarah Palin, on sharia: “Whether it be just affecting a segment of the population, a demographic, certainly not in its entirety all over our country, Americans will not stand for this because Americans are smart enough to know Sharia law, if that were to be adopted — allowed to govern in our country, it will be the downfall of America. And too many Americans are onto this already and are starting to rise up and send that message to our federal officials and say, no, we will not put up with any hint of Sharia law being any sort of law of the land.”

Newt Gingrich, on sharia: “We should have a federal law that says sharia law cannot be recognized by any court in the United States,” Gingrich said to a standing ovation from the audience. The law will let judges know, Gingrich said, that “no judge will remain in office that tried to use sharia law.”

Rick Santorum, on sharia: “We need to define it and say what it is. And it is evil. Sharia law is incompatible with American jurisprudence and our Constitution.”

Herman Cain, on Muslims and sharia: “Asked whether there would be a place for a Muslim appointee in Cain’s administration, Cain flatly said “No.””

“There is this creeping attempt to gradually ease Sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government. It does not belong in our government,” he told a Think Progress blogger.

Gary Johnson, on sharia: He told a gathering of supporters in December that he had his “ear to the ground” on the sharia issue when asked by a voter.

Rather than discuss sharia I wish that Republicans would more openly discuss real problems such as  fundamentalist Christian beliefs infringing upon the civil liberties of Americans and the widespread promotion of a revisionist history which denies our heritage of separation of church and state by many on the right.


If It’s Sunday…

With everyone looking somewhat moderate compared to Fox, and with all the fake cries of media bias from the right, it is often easy to forget the degree to which conservatives dominate broadcast and cable news.  (This includes CNN, which continues to hire far more conservatives than liberals, including one from the Andrew Beitbart school of faking the news). Just one example can be seen most weeks on the Sunday interview shows. Here’s Steve Benen’s count on today’s shows:

Looking over the guest lists for all of the Sunday shows, viewers will see two Republican senators (McCain, Graham), three Republican House members (Boehner, Ryan, Schilling), three likely Republican presidential candidates (Barbour, Gingrich, Pawlenty) … and zero Democrats from Congress or the Obama administration.

It’s a little worse than usual as generally there is at least one token Democrat. In general, if it’s Sunday, its meet the Republicans.

Shorter Sarah Palin on Hannity And A Rational Conservative Response

Sarah (Reload) Palin’s appearance on Sean Hannity did nothing to satisfy those of us who remained shocked by the recent shootings in Tucson, along with many other acts of politically-motivated violence. Here’s Shorter Palin on Hannity:

“I will continue to speak out to promote hatred and division. I stand by my anti-Semitic slur. I was the real victim. My words never cause harm; words critical of me do.”

That, of course, was not Palin’s actual words, but is the message she conveyed to those beyond the fringe element who supports her. Most conservatives are unable or unwilling to understand what liberals have been saying in the aftermath of the shootings. Rather than responding to what we are saying, they falsely claim that liberals are placing the blame for the shooting on Palin and then respond to this instead of what is actually being said.

One exception is Joe Scarborough who has this message for conservatives:

We get it, Sarah Palin. You’re not morally culpable for the tragic shooting in Tucson, Ariz. All of us around the “Morning Joe” table agree, even if we were stunned that you would whine about yourself on Facebook as a shattered family prepared to bury their 9-year-old girl.

The same goes for you, Glenn Beck. You’ve attacked your political opponents with words designed to inspire hatred and mind-bending conspiracy theories from fans. Calling the president a racist, Marxist and fascist may be reprehensible, but it did not lead a mentally disturbed man to take a Glock to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s “Congress on Your Corner” event.

Good on ya, buddy. You weren’t personally responsible for the slaughter at the Safeway. Maybe you can put it on a poster at the next “Talkers” convention.

But before you and the pack of right-wing polemicists who make big bucks spewing rage on a daily basis congratulate yourselves for not being responsible for Jared Lee Loughner’s rampage, I recommend taking a deep breath. Just because the dots between violent rhetoric and violent actions don’t connect in this case doesn’t mean you can afford to ignore the possibility — or, as many fear, the inevitability — that someone else will soon draw the line between them.

Actually, someone already has. When you get a minute, Google “Byron Williams” and “Tides Foundation” to see just how thin a layer of ice Beck skates on every day…

Who, other than Palin’s most strident supporters, was not troubled by the bull’s-eye target over Giffords’s district? Or the political advertisement promoting the removal of Giffords from office with the firing of a “fully automatic M16” with her opponent? Or the gunned-down congresswoman’s own warning to NBC’s Chuck Todd that violent words have consequences?

And who on the right is really stupid enough to not understand that the political movement that has a near monopoly on gun imagery may be the first focus of an act associated with gun violence? As a conservative who had a 100 percent rating with the National Rifle Association and the Gun Owners of America over my four terms in Congress, I wonder why some on the right can’t defend the Second Amendment without acting like jackasses. While these types regularly attack my calls for civility, it is their reckless rhetoric that does the most to hurt the cause.

Which brings us back to Palin and the GOP’s field of 2012 candidates.

In Palin’s Facebook manifesto last Wednesday, she didn’t condemn extreme speech and its potential for violence. Instead, she seemed to say, “Deal with it.” Then she proved it, ineptly and offensively naming herself the victim of a “blood libel,” which generations of persecuted Jews know carries connotations much more serious than a drop in the polls.

We know Palin won’t call out irresponsible language or lead the discussion back to civility, but who will?

Where was former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who covets the moral authority to lead his party in 2012? Is there anything — anything at all — a member of his own party can say that offends this man?

Or former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who refused to call out his state’s best-known congresswoman, Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, for saying that the best way to oppose energy legislation is to be “armed and dangerous.”

Or former House Speaker Newt Gingrich? Oh, wait. Never mind.

From their defensive crouch, these candidates are clearly scared to do the right thing by calling out reckless rhetoric.

The Blurred Line Between Mainstream Conservatism and Far Right Wing Extremism

Some in the media are trying to minimize the significance of right wing hate speech, either by denying its significance or claiming both sides do it.  Andrew Sullivan has pointed out the key difference between left and right:

The right and the left both have intemperate voices. But here’s the key: only the conservative movement counts the most vile blowhards as leading lights, embraced by the leadership. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Sarah Palin: these are among the most popular conservatives in America. Who are the folks on the left with equivalent popularity and influence?

Steven Benen had a similar response to the claim that both sides do it:

In Democratic circles, liberal extremists can’t get any establishment attention at all. Members of Congress won’t return their phone calls or even be seen in public with them. On the right, however, there’s practically nothing a right-wing extremist can say or do to be exiled from polite company.

There’s a clear and impermeable line between the progressive mainstream and the left fringe. The line between the Republican Party/conservative movement and the far-right fringe barely exists. Whereas Dems kept the fringe at arm’s length, Republicans embrace the fringe with both arms.

Both sides have nutjobs; only one side thinks their nutjobs are sane.

Conservatives try to equate old graphics with targets to Sarah Palin’s graphic of crosshairs but there is a huge difference here. Targets do not suggest the shooting of an individual they way that crosshairs do. Palin’s crosshairs were made even worse when accompanied by her calls to “reload” and her constant hate speech. The significance of Palin’s crosshairs were demonstrated when Giffords herself expressed fear of the consequences of Palin’s actions:

I mean, this is a situation where — I mean, people don’t — they really need to realize that the rhetoric and firing people up and, you know, even things, for example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list. But the thing is that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gunsight over our district.

When people do that, they’ve gotta realize there’s consequences to that action.

Conservatives have even tried to draw false equivalencies between the statements from Republican leaders such as Palin and Beck and mere blog comments made by liberals. They have been making a big fuss about a diary at Daily Kos in which an individual stated that Giffords was dead to him in expressing disapproval over a vote she made. These are hardly equivalent. Nor is it equivalent to quote Barack Obama for saying, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” especially when Obama’s career has generally been based upon attempts at reconciliation with his political opponents as compared to conservatives who thrive on creating hatred.

As Steve pointed out, if someone on the left were to engage in the type of hate speech common on the right it is likely they would be repudiated by most of the left. When possible connections were drawn between right wing hate speech and the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, conservatives had two possible strategies to dissociate themselves. They could have done what liberals would have done and condemned the hate speech. Most have chosen a different path and put themselves in a position of defending the hate speech. It is so bad that when one Republican, Tim Pawlenty, stated he would not have used Sarah (Reload) Palin’s graphic of politicians in the crosshairs of a rifle, a prominent conservative blogger responded by arguing  he’s not man enough to be president.

Related Posts:

Right Wingers Defend Hate Speech While Tea Party Takes Advantage of Arizona Shooting To Raise Money

Sarah (Reload) Palin and Rush Limbaugh Condemned For Their Hate Speech; Beck Takes Stand Against Violence By Holding Gun

John Kerry on Civility

Palin, Like Most Conservatives, Fails To Understand The Controversy