16 September 2010

Don't Burn Qur'ans, Just 'Defeat' Islam (and the Constitution while you're at it)

If Rev. Terry Jones, the would-be Qur'an burner of Gainseville FL, had not gotten his fifteen minutes or so of fame last week, reactionary Islamophobes like Cal Thomas would have had to invent him. Thomas takes a parting swipe at Jones in his latest column, questioning the man's ministry by putting the word "minister" in scare quotes. Jones serves the same purpose for Thomas's kind that Fred Phelps does. By denouncing the offensive acts of marginal characters, Thomas hopes to mainstream his own bigotry. Thus, after dismissing Jones as a "distraction," Thomas proposes an Islamophobic program so thoroughly unconstitutional that it'd probably makes Jones himself flinch. It may even make Jones look like a moderate.

Thomas inadvertantly inflates Jones's historical significance by equating him with Joe McCarthy, whom Thomas sees in retrospect as a distraction from the serious work of anticommunism. Jones, Thomas writes, likewise distracts Americans from the necessary work of purging, defeating and conquering "radical Islam." It doesn't take long, however, before Thomas loses track of the adjective. Taking his mandate from the wonderfully vague Deuteronomy 22:21 ("You must purge the evil from among you"), the columnist tells us how to stop radical Islam from spreading in the U.S.

We are doing a poor job of fighting the terrorists at home if we continue to allow Muslim immigrants, especially from Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, into America. We won't win this war if we permit the uncontrolled construction of mosques, as well as Islamic schools, some of which already have sown the seeds from which future terrorists will be cultivated. We won't win this war if we continue to permit the large-scale conversion to Islam of prison inmates, many of whom become radicalized and upon release enlist in al-Qaida's army.

Thomas goes so far as to commend the government of Syria, a tyrannical regime otherwise demonized in his writings, for "understand[ing] the threat better than our own government." He applauds the Assad dictatorship for subjecting imams to government scrutiny of their Friday sermons and monitoring curricula in religious schools. The Syrian government, in Thomas's view, is happily unburdened by "fear of offending 'sensibilities'" when dealing with the Islamic threat. The sensibilities Thomas should worry about offending are those of Americans who revere the Constitution.

While immigration restriction is within the government's power, Thomas's proposals for "controlling" the construction of mosques and Islamic schools or forbidding prison conversions to Islam run right into the concrete wall of the First Amendment. If Congress shall pass no law respecting religion, then it can't pass special laws regulating Islam, no matter how Thomas tries to construct them. Presuming Thomas to be one of those homophobes who claim a religious right to discriminate against gays and lesbian, he shows a lack of respect for our blueprint of liberty that was regrettably all too predictable.

"We are tolerating, even welcoming evil under the false assumption that evil can be neutered when it is in the midst of good," Thomas writes. I guess that's why he gets to publish his column. "We must purge the evil from among us, or else," he concludes. Physician heal thyself.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And this coming from the same sort of intolerant right-wing idiot who continually whine about how liberals are supposedly trying to "stomp all over the Constitution." If anyone should be shown the borders, it is Cal Thomas and his intolerant ilk. After having the First Amendment branded on his forehead.