Sunday, February 1, 2015

Texas Lawmaker Decides Muslim Americans Must Now Swear Allegiance to United States

 by Nomad

One legislator's policy discriminating against Muslim Americans raises questions about what religious liberty actually means in Texas. 

A couple of days ago The Dallas Morning News reported about Texas state Representative Molly White and a new policy she adopted.  From now on, she decided, all Muslim visitors to her government offices will be required to renounce terrorism and to swear an oath of allegiance to the United States. If not, she has stated that she would not meet with them.

"We Don't Want You Here"
White's policy came in response to the seventh annual Texas Muslim Capitol Day in which some 200 Texas Muslims attended. They were  to speak with legislators about their goals for the session. 

The events were hosted by the Texas chapter of the Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR). The meeting was supposed to be “an opportunity for community members to learn about the democratic political process and how to be an advocate for important issues.” 
Like any other lobbying organization,

Before the rally, Mustafaa Carroll, the executive director for the  CAIR,  explained to reporters the main problem was a lack of contact between Muslim Americans and the lawmakers  Carroll explained:
“The problem that even the lawmakers have—they don’t know Muslims. They’ve never been to a mosque, they’ve never talked to any Muslims more than likely and all they see is what they see on TV.
Instead the were greeted with an example of the democratic political process at its worst and in disarray. The Muslim Americans (which included dozens of middle and high school students) were met by roughly 30 self-identified Christian protesters. The protesters who heckled " shouting “we don’t want you here,” and holding signs that said “no Sharia.” They also held flags and signs like ”One God,” and “Remember 9/11.”

Apparently there was a scuffle when a spokeswoman for the Houston office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations,  Ruth Nasrullah was shoved away from the microphone by a protester who shouted “Islam will never dominate the United States and by the grace of God it will not dominate Texas.” 
The protester, according to some reports, was 50-year old Christine Weick, who was actually from Michigan.

Eventually order was resumed with the help of a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper. Nasullah explained:
“Muslims are here by the hundreds with no agenda but to share our concerns with the elected officials of our state,”
Despite the fact that the event had been held every year since 2003, it had never drew opposition before. This year online threats, according to organizers, prompted the council to contact the FBI.
 *   *   *
Playing to the crowd, Freshman Tea party Republican Rep. Molly White had earlier posted a notice on her Facebook page:

Her decision naturally sparked outrage among Muslim groups. Why would citizens (and taxpayers) from one religion be singled out?

The Limits of Religious Freedom
Many on the other side of the issue expressed fear that intolerant religious extremists would take over the country and impose Islamic law. (I know, I know.)
The article reported:
Anti-Sharia law protester Darcy Savage from Leesburg, Florida said the founding fathers did not intend freedom of religion to extend beyond Christianity.
Say what? Religious liberty is reserved only for Christianity?  Liberty when it is limited a certain group is actually nothing more than privilege.

Mr. Savage is something of a vagabond crusader on the subject of religious freedom for Christians. 
He and his wife have recently begun traveling to different states to protest Sharia law.
Savage (who is apparently not even a legal resident of Texas) appears to feel no shame about roaming the heartland, promoting the fears of the majority against the minority.
Before the rally, Savage said,
“Muslims are counter-Christian. They will kill you for being a Christian. I don’t trust any Muslims. They want to impose Sharia on us.”
How 200 Muslim Americans plan to impose Sharia on the state of Texas isn't clear. If Savage knows their stragety, he isn't revealing anything.

CAIR director Carroll said their argument made no sense.
“Obviously these people that are protesting don’t know the Constitution, and don’t know what the first amendment says..We live in a pluralistic society. We support it 100 percent.”
That's the reason they are in Austin in the first place.

Selective Texas
An official from the group contacted the Texas  House Speaker JoeStraus’ office, requesting an ethics ruling over White's actions and remarks.
CAIR charged that White was “creating such an internal office policy that is selectively being enforced to discriminate against certain religious minorities trying to meet with her or her staff.”

That afternoon Straus responded that all state lawmaker were required to treat all constituents with the same respect.  He said that the Texas Capitol belonged to all Texans and so legislators had a responsibility to offer each and every visitor and voter "dignity and respect."
“Anything else reflects poorly on the entire body and distracts from the very important work in front of us.”
What kind of important work? Well, work like Senate Joint Resolution 10  which is a draft amendment to the state constitution that declares that "no human authority ought, in any case whatever, to control or interfere with the rights of conscience in matters of religion, and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious society or mode of worship.

Other work the Texas legislators have to decide on in 2015 include House Bill 138, which would allow the 10 Commandments to be posted in classrooms.
*   *   *
White offered no apology and, at least on Facebook, didn't seem too worried about ethics complaints. Later, in typical non-apology tradition, she claimed that her remarks were "blown out of proportion."  (Meaning, people didn't respond in the way she had intended.)

Clearly some legislators in Texas still have a long way to go when it comes to understanding the concept of equal representation and of equal rights for both the majority and minorities.
The privilege of citizenship mandates impartial representation from legislators. It's a pretty basic idea, actually.

Devil in the Details
For the detail-minded readers like me, this Tea Party representative's policy does present a few problems. If Muslims are supposed to swear an allegiance to the US, then which Holy Book would guarantee compliance? It's really not such a minor detail, of course.
To swear on the Koran sort of makes a mockery of anti-Sharia fears. On the other hand, does an oath count if a Muslim swears on a Bible?

Also, why aren't Jewish Americans also required to renounce terrorism and swear an oath? If as the protester said, religious liberty was reserved for Christians, then where does that leave the Jews?
(In fact, unbeknownst to Texas Christians, Muslims revere Jesus, Moses and Abraham and even Mary, they just bestow them any special divinity.)

Will Catholic Americans have to swear an oath of allegiance too? Not so long ago, the Catholics had a long history of imposing religious laws- very much like Sharia law, after all.   Back in the 1960s, the grandparents of these protesters were protesting against Catholic Jack Kennedy and demanding he too take a loyalty oath.

Above all those questions, there's another thing. Isn't it more than a little ironic that a lawmaker from the Tea Party -which has tirelessly called for the overthrow of the US government- should question anybody else's loyalty to America?  The German American Bund Party was charged with treason for doing exactly the same thing back in 1944. 

That's the problem with policies Ms. White has adopted. In the end, you have excluded everybody from your offices. But then that leaves you a lot more free time to work on bills protecting religious liberty.. of Christians, I suppose.