Dear Representative John Bennett,
My name is Omar Alam Rana. I am a Muslim and an Oklahoman. I have a few questions for you about your proposed interim study about Radical Islam and statements you have made on the matter.
You have made many comments on Islam. Once even going as far as to state there being “[no] difference between moderate and radical Islam”. Do you believe that all Muslims are radical? If so, I think it would be highly improbable that all 1.6 billion Muslims in the world adhere to radical principals.
I’ll use myself as an example. I was born in Tulsa, not too far from your district. At Riverfield High School I was on Student Council and I won a state championship in Speech and Debate. While attending The University of Kansas during my undergrad, I was in many leadership positions in organizations including president of my fraternity, an Executive staff member of Student Government and a committee leader on the Student Activities Board. When I graduated I won a University Award awarded to only 10 graduating seniors. I am now enrolled in law school for the fall. Do you think I am a radical? I pay my taxes on time and I vote regularly. By most accounts, I think many people would consider me a model citizen. Does my name and religion cancel all of that out?
In the bill you cited San Bernardino and Moore as reasons why Radical Islam is a threat in the United States. These events were tragic, and I mourned these events like every other American. However, after thorough investigations it was concluded that Islamic Extremist groups were not directly involved in either of these events. It would seem that your logic is that because people who claim to be Muslim perpetrated them, they automatically representative of all Muslims. Using that logic, can I hold all Christian or White Americans accountable for the actions of the extremists who perpetrated Newtown, Aurora, or Charleston shootings?
You state at the end of your bill that the purpose of the study will be to have “experts” create a study that will then lead to solutions that are solicited by the public and will result in legislation. If you are having “experts” develop a study then what is the point of soliciting solutions from the general public who are not “experts” in this area? I am skeptical about what “experts” you will choose to conduct the study and, I am even more even more skeptical about having solutions referring to an identity I hold be solicited to the general Oklahoma public?
I wonder, why is this so important to you? Is this really the most important use of your time as a public servant? In 2011 and 2012 taxpayers paid more than $300,000 on an unconstitutional state question and subsequent federal lawsuit. A lawsuit which resulted in said law being struck down as unconstitutional by the 10th US Circuit Court. Is the chip on your shoulder towards Islam really worth your constituent’s time and money?
Tom Stites, your Democratic challenger, has said that he would rather use the time proposed for this bill to find solutions to fixing the budget crisis or funding education. Quite frankly I agree, even though I am not directly your constituent. After studying your politics and this proposed interim study, I feel personally victimized by the simple fear mongering political tactics. Politics which are concerned with disenfranchising me.
So, Representative John Bennett, my last question is simply; why do you hate me?
Omar A. Rana is the Summer 2016 intern at the Oklahoma City office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Oklahoma (CAIR-OK). Omar is from Tulsa.