Reality Check: There Will Be No Holy Caliphate in Tennessee

As we all know, Muslims everywhere are on a mission to take over the entire world. They are relentless, merciless, and show a total disregard for the rights of Christians to make openly racists remarks at their expense.

It seems the latest battle lines have been drawn in Tennessee — soon to be (cue sarcasm) the next caliphate to fall into the hands of the evil Muslim imperialists. At least if Lee Douglas is to be believed, it is. And why not trust him? He is a dentist after all. What better standing could a person possibly have to pass comment on global politics, religion, or military diplomacy?

Lee Douglas (via The Tennessean)

Douglas has accused the Republican Governor, Bill Haslam, of allowing Islam to infiltrate the government. His evidence for this? The hiring of a Muslim woman to the Tennessee’s economic development office.

I know. Shocking.

Douglas helped draft a resolution criticizing the governor and Islam in general. The resolution has since been signed by a number of Republican executive committees from across the state. Douglas sees this action as an attempt to nip this fantasy problem in the bud:

By stopping this now, we’re going to save ourselves a lot of difficulty in the future.

The poor girl in question was actually born and raised in a small town in Tennessee, and the governor has attempted to diffuse the furor by highlighting her roots. That has fallen of deaf ears.

When he’s not repairing tooth decay and telling you to floss more, Douglas is a member of the middle Tennessee chapter of ACT! for America. The group sums up its mission in four words: “They must be stopped.” While I’m all for direct and to the point mission statements, that one is more than a little creepy and threatening. The group’s members have opposed new mosques and lobbied for laws limiting Islamic influence — including a new state anti-terrorism law that originally referenced Sharia law explicitly.

Just in case you thought this was just the Tea Party end of the crazy scale, one of the group’s members is a guy named Bill French. French was recently listed as a member of “The Anti-Muslim Inner Circle” by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report magazine, along with ACT! founder Brigitte Gabriel and David Yerushalmi, a Phoenix attorney who drafted Tennessee’s anti-Sharia bill. French is a former Tennessee State University physics professor who now runs the Center for the Study of Political Islam. He has no formal training in Islamic studies and doesn’t speak Arabic.

Tennessee’s Muslim population is statisitically tiny. According a Pew Forum poll, just 1% of the state’s population identifies as Muslim. Compare that to over half the population identifying as Evangelical Protestant and you have to wonder why any Muslims would move there at all. The answer, of course, is that often they don’t choose to live there so much as events in their lives transpire to lead them there. Muslims in the state come from all kinds of backgrounds; some are refugees, others are college professors. This isn’t a community moving en masse, just individual family groups moving in for all kinds of reasons. I can’t help but think that the warm and welcoming nature of the local Christians isn’t among those reasons.

Douglas argues that Islam is opposed to his fantasy of choice, and he is absolutely right. Most faiths are opposed to one another because they have conflicting doctrines.

I don’t want anybody to persecute any religion including Islam, but we have a duty as Americans to understand that they intend to take us over and compel us to become Islamic. The government is showing a deference and is accommodating one single religion — Islam, Shariah.

He is right that, ultimately, Islam wants to spread throughout the world. There are countless verses in the Koran detailing how to deal with or live alongside unbelievers. However, his insistence that the hiring of a Muslim staffer constitutes a government deference to Islam is a heinous assault on logic and reason. By his logic, hiring a Christian for any position would be a deference to Christianity. The government would have no employees left if it couldn’t hire religious adherents. (I suppose that would allow atheist candidates to romp home to victory in every elected position… but I doubt Douglas wants that, too.)

Another of the Tennessee anti-Islam brigade, Andy Miller, is a health care investor (I hate him already just for that job title) and bases his concerns on the general Islamic moral system. While I probably agree with most of Miller’s concerns about the Islamic moral code — especially with regards women and unbelievers — I would rather that problem be solved through activism and education, not legislation for problems that do not even exist. Miller has a heroic attempt at re-phrasing the classic “I’m not racist, but” argument:

I am not anti-Muslim at all. I don’t hate anybody. But I do have issues with Shariah law. When you look at Shariah law, it’s so antithetical to the things that we hold dear as Americans.

This year, Miller pumped a couple hundred-thousand dollars into Super PACs supporting a candidate who shares his views. Lou Ann Zelenik made Islam a campaign issue in both of her failed bids for Congress. Zelenik lost to another Republican, Diane Black, in this month’s Republican primary. This has led to accusations that Black is not tough enough on Sharia. More than 20 states have considered bills banning the use of Sharia law. All of these bills are solutions looking for problems that just do not exist. All they do is foster a climate of extreme fear that will only lead to a climate of extreme hatred.

About Mark Turner

Mark Turner was born and raised as a Catholic in the North East of England, UK. He attended two Catholic schools between the ages of five and sixteen. A product of a moderate Catholic upbringing and an early passion for science first resulted in religious apathy and by mid-teens outright disbelief.