It’s hot outside. That, however, can’t stop Rep. John Bennett, R-Sallisaw, from building a snowman based on fabrication and fear and then beating it up. Beating up a snowman. Not such a tough assignment.
Bennett, you might remember — unless like most rational people, you try to cleanse your brain of such memories — once declared Islam “a cancer in our nation that needs to be cut out.” He also once mused that there is no difference between Islam and extreme Islam. Then he warned us to be wary of those who call themselves Muslim-Americans.
Just to make sure that xenophobic pot remains stirred, he has now requested that the state House convene an interim study to cover Shariah law, the Muslim Brotherhood and the radicalization process.
This request came a few days before the terrible attack on a nightclub in Orlando June 12. The club is a haven for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. A man, pledging, at different times, his allegiance to several radical groups, including ISIS, Hezbolah and al-Qaida killed 49 and left at least 53 patrons of the club injured.
The man’s true motives have yet to be determined, but that likely won’t stop people such as Bennett from using the attack to stoke the fires against Islam and anyone who follows it or is sympathetic.
In his written request, Bennett said that it “will be a study of the current threat posed by radical Islam and the effect that Shariah law, the Muslim Brotherhood and jihadist indoctrination have in the radicalization process in Oklahoma and America.”
That will take care of it. Get an Oklahoma House panel on it and all of the country’s terrorist problems can be solved. I’d bet they would even come up with some spot-on solutions such as the one in 2010. That was the “Save Our State” state question to ban Shariah law from our courts.
The question passed overwhelmingly. How could it not with a title like that — “SOS?” It was, of course, struck down by a federal judge in 2013. The judge in Oklahoma City agreed with the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which had earlier issued a temporary injunction against the amendment. The judge noted that attorneys for the state “admitted at the preliminary injunction hearing that they did not know of any instance where an Oklahoma court had applied Shariah law or used the legal precepts of other nations or cultures.”
Bennett, who didn’t respond to the Tulsa World for comment, wrote in his study request that “with the potential threat of terrorists infiltrating America from the southern border and from undocumented refugees from foreign, war-torn countries, it is time for our leaders to understand radical Islam and how American citizens are being radicalized here in Oklahoma as well as the rest of America.”
I’m not going to minimize or ignore the danger that terrorists present to this country. I won’t deny that terrorist groups are encouraging attacks on America by American citizens. And there is a preponderance of evidence about self-radicalization and the damage those who succumb to it can cause.
But neither will I nor most rational human beings fall victim to the rantings of people who look to make political or personal gain by overstating the danger and using bigotry and lies to inflame hatred and suspicion, too often against our fellow citizens.
But, back to that snowman. Bennett is accomplishing nothing other than drawing attention to himself. It’s easy to blame all Muslims or Islam for all things that endanger us. It’s simple to convince gullible people that there is a terrorist behind every tree, ready to break down doors or to forcibly take over the country and destroy the Constitution, replacing it with some mysterious foreign law.
That, however, is dangerous rhetoric — and, well, baloney.
Do most Muslim countries have some form of Shariah law? Yes. Are there radical forms practiced? Yes. The most common systems, however, are a mixture of family law and secular law. Is corporal punishment, some often harsh, such as floggings, and capital punishment, including beheadings, practiced? Unfortunately, yes. That is wrong, and the United States and its citizens ought to loudly condemn it.
But it’s not going to infiltrate the U.S. legal system. Even if some Muslims here rely on Shariah rulings in personal matters, the Constitution is the law of the land and cannot be overruled by a foreign law or custom.
Bennett and his ilk want you to believe that all Muslims are either terrorists or are abiding or abetting terrorists. That is not true. There are more than 1 billion Muslims in the world. If, indeed, they were all terrorists, we would all know it by now.
The fact is that the great majority of Muslims are peace-loving people. Most Muslims in the U.S. are outraged by the attacks. And, don’t fall for that anti-Muslim talk about the government getting no help from the Muslim community or that Muslim leaders never condemn terrorist attacks.
Simply a little bit of unbiased research will prove that many, many planned or suspected attacks in the U.S. have been discovered by information gleaned from the Muslim community. Just a quick check will show that imams and mosques across the country have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with their fellow citizens in protest of terrorism.
But that would be too easy for Bennett and those who seem unwilling to accept anyone of a different religion, culture or color.
The civilized world has a problem. These thugs are trying to take over a religion. They want more than anything for the Bennetts of this world to help them turn this into a religious war.
We need to seek reasonable, workable solutions. We must not tar an entire group of people for the actions of a few.
Let’s seek a solution, fairly, without the rhetoric. And let’s hope John Bennett’s snowman melts before he can beat it up publicly.
Original Print Headline: Bennett ready to beat up another snowman