Monday, November 29, 2010

Hot air's a coming: and they call that wind Sharia

(The following is my column for the Newton County News, KY3, and KSPR.)

A wave of hot air will pass through Missouri later this week, and if right wing talking points are any indication, we can call the wind Sharia.

State legislators begin pre-filing bills for the 2011 session on December 1, and we can expect some of the favorite hits of yesteryear to climb the charts again.

We will undoubtedly have legislation designed to protect gun rights that no one is trying to take away in the first place. Most likely there will be a bill or two that would increase the penalties for drunk driving and of course, Sen. Jane Cunningham will launch her annual attack on public schools and schoolteachers.

Everyone will be talking jobs, as well they should be, and that should result in shortsighted bills that would make Missouri a right-to-work state and others that will offer all kinds of tax benefits to those who will bring poverty level jobs to the state and make it look as if the legislators have done their jobs.

And then there’s Sharia.

If there is any hot button issue that has the right wing salivating these days it is the idea that there are armies of Muslims who plan on attacking our system from within through the use of Sharia laws.

Two of those who have been beating the drum about Sharia, representatives Cynthia Davis, R-O’Fallon, and Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, are term limited (though Mrs. Ruestman can perhaps save Newton County from Sharia laws in her new post as presiding commissioner).

In a recent column, Mrs. Ruestman warned of the dangers of Muslims spreading their laws into the American system, despite a complete lack of evidence that anything like this is happening, except, of course, for the scare-mongering tactics of those who see conspiracies around every corner.

Mrs. Davis also wrote a column about this so-called danger, explaining it in this fashion:

Last week, Oklahoma voters passed an amendment that prevents judges from relying on Sharia Law or international laws when deciding court cases. This was important because there are places where Sharia Law conflicts with our laws and standards of decency. For example, under Sharia law, it is acceptable to punish people by amputating limbs, beating your wife and stoning people to death. Our country already has laws that deal with crimes and domestic abuse. If our local or national legal system starts relying on what courts say in countries with opposing ethical standards, it will create confusion and allow some of our citizens to be treated differently than the rest of us.

It would be nice if the absence of Mrs. Ruestman and Mrs. Davis could prevent us from wasting taxpayer money on deliberation of a problem that does not exist. Sadly, even those two are no longer with us, there are others who are happy to carry this noble cause forward, especially since it has been a popular topic on conservative radio talk shows.

At first glance, this push against Sharia laws, which have no more chance of taking root in Missouri or Oklahoma than a franchise of Liberace theme restaurants. It looks like another chance for our elected officials to appeal to their base with feel good, accomplish nothing legislation.

If you look more closely, however, you will see this wave of Sharia law paranoia as exactly what it is- religious intolerance. Our country is still so close to September 11, that any shot at Islam is a winner at the ballot box.

So those who are expecting the state legislature to immediately work on jobs bills may have to be patient. After all, somebody has to save our judicial system from those imaginary Muslim infidels.


Applecart T. said...

I don't understand how or why our US Constitution judges would use laws from another country within the USA to decide a case. Guess I should go read some National Review, NewsMax, etc. (did, they are not talking about any threats or use of these laws, either). Oh, local legislators, you have lost me yet again. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

When we send hot air to Jeff City, what should we expect in return.

Take a look at this year's crop. Bob Dixon and Ron Richard who will spend the next 8 years positioning themselves to be the next Congressman. Remember, Jack Goodman is not a threat in any public office.

On the House side, in Greene County we've got Schoeller, Hough, Burlison and Leach and who knows what out of Jasper and Newton Counties. Not much sensible leadership in any of them.

Let's not for Pete 'Bicycle' Kinder. He'll do anything, say anything and be whatever it takes to run for Governor. Expect a constant warm breeze from him.

So, get your hot air balloon out and get ready for a long, long, Long (I almost forgot Colonel Billy) journey.