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.

@markdturner

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.riley.35 Tim Riley

    Is it me? or is this guy monkey-shit nutz?…I thought so.
    I guess Joe McCarthy’s spirit lives on…and on.

  • Conspirator

    What’s the deal with dentists and the mixing of religion and politics?  Isn’t the head of the Texas board of education who wants to rewrite all history and science a dentist also?

    • RobMcCune

      Apparently frequent abuse of novocain makes one delusional.

    • Artor

      It comes from huffing all the leftover nitrous oxide.

    • http://chaoskeptic.blogspot.com Rev. Ouabache

       Orly Taitz, Queen of the Birthers, was a dentist too. Someone should really look into this trend.

      • Conspirator

        I forgot about her.  I’m beginning to fear going to the dentist.  

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Don McLeroy.  Previous.  His term ended Jan 2011.

      I quit a dentist recently, partially because of their YEC material in the waiting room.  There was enough of it there I was pretty sure it wasn’t just left by someone.  And no, I didn’t ask.  I had enough other reasons to be creeped out by the place.

  • http://www.facebook.com/BarryClivePearson Barry Pearson

    An interesting question is “at what point (if any) should governments act to stem the increasing use of Sharia?” (Adding the word “law” is redundant).

    I would agree that 1% Muslims dispersed across an area is probably too small a concentration to run much risk of Sharia courts arising. But the UK has about 5% Muslims, often clustered, and Sharia courts are up and running in some of those areas. There is a Muslim Law (Shariah) Council UK. Surveys suggest that 40% of UK Muslims want Sharia. (For example, start with “Islam in the United Kingdom” in Wikipedia, but there is lots more).

    Sharia is not an existential threat to the UK or the USA. But it is incompatible with Universal Human Rights and with UK Law. It especially puts Muslim women at a disadvantage. (Most of the victims of Islam are Muslims). It is best not to let it get started.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/A37GL7VKR3W6ACSIZPH7EID3LI rlrose63

      I was thinking the same thing.  It is not a bad thing to think ahead in these matters and nip it in the bud if we can.  We know Sharia law is not good and that won’t change.  They need to know that US law trumps any other group of “laws” they feel they need with regard to their religion.

    • Conspirator

      The thing is this is not just limited to Sharia law. Other religions have similar systems and people choose to live under them, and it rarely enters the news.  They are treated like arbitration, for instance some Jewish people reach their divorce settlement in a special Jewish court, then it’s taken to the state court to be officially resolved.  

      Now maybe there’s more to this than I know.  But it seems to me if Muslims wish to set up Sharia “courts” to settle disputes among themselves, why is that an issue?  So long as they don’t try to enforce this on others, or make Sharia court rulings legally binding or have an actual influence on the law, what’s the big deal.

      Now you can argue this is bad for Muslim women, which I believe is what you meant about victims, but this is the same for almost all religions.  Many people choose to live by stricter standards than our laws require.  But that’s a choice, and should not be governed. 

      • Glasofruix

        What if some sharia court rulings are plain and simply illegal under the US law? I mean, wouldn’t “stone her to death” pose certain problems?

        • Conspirator

          And is anyone actually trying to do that?  In countries that aren’t ruled by Muslims but where they are trying to institute Sharia courts what are they aiming for?  Has anyone in the UK tried to say “My Muslim court said I could kill this person so it should be legal.”?  

          A story came up here a while back about a US court ruling that a Jewish man who was divorcing his wife had to give her some Jewish document saying their marriage was over.  Under their branch of Judiasm only if the man agrees can a couple divorce.  Obviously in the US that is not allowed.  So if this guy withheld the document while they would be legally divorced, their religion would still see them as married, and she would be forbidden from remarrying.  

          So should that Jewish legal system be allowed in the US?  It violates the spirit of our laws, but if someone chooses to allow such a thing to rule their life, and it does no harm to anyone else, is it wrong to tell them not to that?  

      • http://www.facebook.com/BarryClivePearson Barry Pearson

        Yes, it tends to be bad for Muslim women. The point is that for social reasons they tend not to have the sort of choice you imply. 

        We should not say “it is their culture to bring up women as second class people and for women to be discriminated against in their local courts, so let them behave like that”. How do we choose which cultures should be able to discriminate against their women? What about Bankers? Police officers? Or is it just religious-based cultures? And why should we let the latter get away with it? If we are serious about Universal Human Rights, let’s make them Universal!

        It is misleading to say things like “… if Muslims wish to set up Sharia courts …”. It implies that there is a consensus among all Muslims. But it really means “… if male Islamic authorities wish to set up Sharia courts for Muslim men to settle things with Muslim women in a way that suits the men …”.

        It is interesting that some of the most outspoken anti-Sharia people are Muslim (or ex-Muslim) women. (A useful perspective is provided by the UK’s “One Law for All” organisation and website).

        (An analogy is with FGM. It is illegal in the UK, even if the woman wants it done. That is because it is recognised that she is unlikely to be able to make a free informed decision).

        • Conspirator

          I’m completely against any religion that treats women as second class citizens.  However the fact remains most do, and most operate freely here in the US and the women subject themselves to that.  Look at the Quiver Full movement.  

          If a Sharia court were set up in this country it would essentially be voluntary.  If a woman tells a US court that she disagrees with a Sharia court decision and that she doesn’t want to be held to it then the US court will throw it out.  They would not handle criminal matters and would only be involved in civil matters. 

          In this country people are allowed to throw away their rights and subjugate themselves to others if they want.  Catholics do it, Jewish people do it, many conservative Christians do it.  

          In the last year or so there was a case of a kid attending a strict Christian school that did not allow dancing that got in trouble for going to a dance at another school.  Many people here thought that was wrong, but he agreed to the school’s rules when he signed up, and knew what the consequences were.  He could have gone to public schools if he wanted to.  As I see it that kind of nonsense is no different than Sharia courts.  

          Now if you can show me a situation where in a civilized country Muslims are insisting on Sharia courts handling criminal matters or their decisions being binding in legal courts or non-Muslims being bound by Sharia court decisions well then I will change my stance.  In the mean time it appears as if it’s nothing more than at worse waiving your rights to a civil trial and agreeing to arbitration.  And people do that all the time in this country, hell I just did that on Sunday when signing a contract to build a new house.  

          • sailor

             They are welcome to Sharia law as long as the only outcome is that if they break it, they get removed from the church (as in your example of a school). But that is not the way it is, it can decide on property and divorce and women can get coerced into it by family pressure.

            • Conspirator

              Again, this could happen with any of these types of situations, it’s not unique to Islam.  And I do believe it does occur with some Orthodox Jews.  Apparently some of the men will use their power in the religious court to push for custody in the civil court.  

              Again, this is about people willingly submitting themselves to church authority.  The only reason it is an issue with these people is because it’s Islam.  

              • http://www.facebook.com/BarryClivePearson Barry Pearson

                “willingly submitting” is the key. When family and social pressures and perhaps ignorance deter or hide the existence of alternatives, are the people truly willing? 

                The pressure on Muslim women (and often men too) to conform to the local culture can be considerable. (Sometimes it spills over into violence, for example so-called “honour killings”. They appear to be rare, but are the tip of an iceberg of lesser acts which shouldn’t occur in an enlightened society).

                The reason this is a problem mainly (but not only) with Islam is that Islam has not undergone the amount of (partial) modernisation that other religions typically have. The Koran, the final and eternal word of god, freezes the status of women as second class. (2:282, 4:11, 4:34, 4:176, etc). And departing from Islam is considered to be a betrayal of the Umma, in effect a traitorous act. 

                Faced with that, (plus ignorance), submission is not “willing” in the sense that most of us think of our abilities to choose.

                • Conspirator

                  Same things happen with Christian churches in the US all the time.  And the Catholic church codified protecting child rapists.  The only way to eliminate this stuff is to eliminate conservative churches of any type that treat some people worse than others.  

          • Geiorgina

             ” a civilized country Muslims are insisting on Sharia courts handling criminal matters”

            France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Uk, Greece, ….
            Actually, all of them. They might not (yet) get away with cutting off hands – but the blood money trade is doing well.

            A stabs B; the court decides that A (A’s family) must pay B a sum of money. The police are informed that there are no witnesses and B claims that it was an accident.

            Sometimes, B is A’s wife and the court decides that the police will not even be informed. In my book: rape, assault, burglary and child murder are all criminal matters. These are dealt with by muslim courts, as well as divorce (simple cases: she gets nothing – no kids, no share of the house, no choice).

            • Conspirator

              So would this be like a Christian pastor making a girl apologize to her church for being raped then having her shipped off to Colorado?  Because that shit already happens here, it just doesn’t have a scary Muslim name.  It’s illegal, but what can be done about it?  

              What you are describing is backhanded dealings that from the sound of it are illegal.  The Sharia courts are not part of the law.  You don’t have to specifically outlaw those, because covering up a crime is often illegal, no matter who does it or why.

          • Georgina

             Forgot to add:
            “non-Muslims being bound by Sharia” , Austria and Germany – women were fined by the official courts for the crime of “insulting islam’s prophet” – this being shari’ah blasphemy law too.

            Not state law, as “insulting Buddhism”  of “insulting Buddha”  is not illegal.

    • sailor

      “Sharia is not an existential threat to the UK or the USA”
      Not true, the UK stupidly allows Sharia law to operate as a second branch of law between consenting parties. As a result they can discriminate against women, and women can be coerced into accepting Sharia law with different outcomes than if they were using British law.
      A country should only have one form of law for all, I hope the USA sticks to that. I don’t think any bills need to be passed because I cannot see the US allowing a two tier law. But if they ever thought of it, the UK would be a good example of why not to do it. There should only be one law for all. The UK also allows for some kind of Jewish law, possibly equally aweful.

    • sailor

      “Sharia is not an existential threat to the UK or the USA”
      Not true, the UK stupidly allows Sharia law to operate as a second branch of law between consenting parties. As a result they can discriminate against women, and women can be coerced into accepting Sharia law with different outcomes than if they were using British law.
      A country should only have one form of law for all, I hope the USA sticks to that. I don’t think any bills need to be passed because I cannot see the US allowing a two tier law. But if they ever thought of it, the UK would be a good example of why not to do it. There should only be one law for all. The UK also allows for some kind of Jewish law, possibly equally aweful.

      • http://www.facebook.com/BarryClivePearson Barry Pearson

        I didn’t say Sharia didn’t exist in the UK. In fact I emphasised that it certainly did, and it causes problems. But it isn’t a significant threat to the existence of the UK or the way of life of the rest of us; sorry if I wasn’t clear.

        The reasons to oppose it are not to do with national security, but the human rights of citizens. We shouldn’t have enclaves where pre-enlightenment rules apply.

        I’m not sure that the UK is actually different in law from the USA in this respect. The UK didn’t say “we should allow Sharia to operate”. It largely ignored the increasing use of such courts until they were becoming more obvious. If a group of people operates such courts, there may be an unwillingness to inquire whether all participants are truly free to give consent to the rulings, or whether family and social pressures (and ignorance of national values) make the courts appear to be the “proper” way of doing things.

    • http://twitter.com/markdturner Mark Turner

      My two cents on the use and existence of such courts is that they shouldn’t be allowed under the strictest definition of the word ‘court’. I’m all for mediation in instances such as marriage disputes or perhaps even property disputes, but they should not be legally binding. Even that would be stretching it as I would have doubts about the safety of any rulings simply because of Islam’s record of gender inequality. 
      Even if you agree to go to a Sharia court, it should not be possible to sign away your right of appeal to a civil court if the ruling doesn’t go your way. Of course it is easy to say that, but pressure from family etc would prevent such appeals.

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    Does this mean that the 11th commandment “Thou shalt not criticize a fellow Republican” is no longer being followed by all Republicans?

    • dearestlouise

      Regular Republicans aren’t extreme enough anymore for the right-wing in Tennessee; they want Tea Party members in office. 

    • ganner918

      It has been amended: Thou shalt only criticize another Republican for not being conservative enough

  • Nakedanthropologist

    I’m so ashamed that I live in Tennessee right now (Knoxville). These are crazy fanatics…especially the evangelicals. BTW, if there is an anti-terrorism law, it Should apply to the gay-hating, gun loving, and extremely fanatic evangelicals that seem to infest TN like a plague. Where are the anti-Mosaic law laws?

  • Alex

    FWIW, I also have issues with Sharia in US. However, its establishment has less to do with reality than massive voter fraud in Florida and Texas.

    • unclemike

       Define “massive,” cuz as far as I can see there have only been 10 convicted cases of in-person voter fraud since the year 2000. En toto.

      • Alex

        That’s exactly my point.

  • Octoberfurst

     Ahh don’t ya just love right-wing fundie types? They get into a tizzy over the dumbest things.  Senator Whoever just hired a Muslim on his staff! >GASP!!GASP!!sigh<
      Seriously these people are idiots. I really have to laugh at how they get all worked up over the idea of Sharia taking over America. This country only is about 1% Muslim. How, pray tell, are the big, bad Muslims supposed to take over the county when 99% of the population is not Muslim? Please, someone explain that to me. You may as well worry about Eskimos coming down and taking over the lower 48 States.  It's just as likely.  These fanatics need to be laughed at by all sane people everywhere.

    • Alex

      I know. The vast 1% of Muslims are taking over the poor, oppressed 85% Christian minority. Or should I say, overwhelming minority.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    What is the GOP and trying to fix problems that don’t exist? First it was voter fraud and now this. 

  • Jesus

    Read this on npr. Very disgusted.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    “The poor girl in question ”

    If you would not write “The poor boy in question”, then don’t write “The poor girl in question”.

    • http://twitter.com/markdturner Mark Turner

      I would write 
      “The poor boy in question”. The sentence is alluding to her being swept up in all this through no fault of her own. Her gender is irrelevant.

  • pagansister

    I’m sure the woman applied for the job just so she could “infiltrate” the government—no other reason–like being qualified for the position!   Would she have been hired if she wasn’t qualified?  I would hope not.  Douglas needs to get over his not so important self! 

  • TheG

    I wonder if they would accept my support? I’m all for limiting the influence of Islam in government. So, I would draft a bill preventing the government from being influenced by a particular religion. Maybe an amendment to the Constitution. I’m working on the wording, but right now it says something about any government “respecting the establishment of religion…”

  • chanceofrainne

    I have GOT to get out of this state.  It is EMBARRASSING to say that I live in Tennessee.  Thank FSM I’m not FROM here.


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