In places like Oklahoma, residents won’t just be electing representatives on election day, they’ll be voting on a referendum on Islam. More specifically, they will vote on State Question 755, the “Save Our State” constitutional amendment that would prohibit state courts from considering Islamic Sharia law in making rulings.
Let’s be clear here. There is no actual evidence that Oklahoma state courts, or any state courts for that matter, have or would consider Islamic Sharia law in rendering any judicial ruling. But that didn’t stop the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Rex Duncan (R-Sand Springs) from defending the legislation as a means to protect courts from being “hijacked” by the people we are “at war” with.
So what are some of the practices that Rep. Duncan finds threatening enough to want to change the Oklahoma constitution? One the Representative often cites is Sharia law’s unequal treatment of women, a practice he says runs in contrast with American principles.
We can expect Rep. Duncan to then support women’s full access to health care vis-a-vis reproductive health choices, equal pay, and anti-discrimination legislation, right?
Of course not.
Understandably, critics of the measure insist that there is nothing more than xenophobia at the root and question the constitutionality of singling out one religion for the purpose of simply making it ideologically objectionable. That’s led the supporters of the amendment to, predictably, trot out the tired “if you’re against us you’re with them” talking point.
This might not be much of a story if the xenophobia was limited to Oklahoma. But it’s not. Newt Gingrich has come out strongly in favor of a federal law that says Sharia law cannot be recognized by any court in the United States at the Value Voters Summit this month, while other Republican candidates such as Tennessee’s Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R) and Minnesota House candidate Lynne Torgerson (I) have made anti-Sharia fear-mongering an active part of their election campaigns.
What’s especially sad is that the initiative will likely pass, reflecting the success of these kinds of campaigns build not on fact but on fear.
photo courtesy of Bruce via Flickr