Tea Parties and Muslims

Last night I went to a candidate forum hosted by the Roane County Tea Party. Also attending were Allan Levene, Michael Friedman, George Ryan Love, and Rick Tyler.

Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, the audience seemed to relate best to Tyler’s message.

I did spar with Tyler a bit–his comeback when I brought up the Jefferson Bible and told him to look it up was “You look it up!”–and had some good discussions with the audience, particularly on gun control. I’m not so naïve as to think that any minds were changed. I’m not even sure anything I said actually caused anyone to actually think.

One audience member asked the candidates how many enumerated powers were in the Constitution. None of us knew, but neither did the questioner. She claimed the answer was eighteen, which is, in fact, the number of enumerated powers listed in Article I, Section 8. However, amendments have given Congress additional enumerated powers, such as

  • The power to free slaves (Amendment XIII)
  • The power to make sure all citizens have due process under the law (Amendment XIV)
  • The power to enforce the validity of the public debt (Amendment XIV)
  • The power to enforce the right to vote on the basis of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude” (Amendment XV)
  • The power to collect income taxes (Amendment XVI)
  • The power to enforce the right of women to vote (Amendment XIX)
  • The power to ban poll taxes (Amendment XXIV)
  • The power to enforce the right to vote on the basis of being eighteen years of age (Amendment XXVI)

So that brings us to at least twenty-six, although I’m quite certain many Tea Party members would be fine with dumping a few of those created by amendments.

The biggest applause for the night came when one audience member suggested that all Muslims should be deported–going even beyond Trump’s desire to keep Muslims from entering the U.S. This is problematic on so many different levels. First, in deference to Mr. Tyler, I’ll go back to “What Would The Founding Fathers Do?” That’s pretty simple: The first country to recognize the United States, in 1777, was Morocco, a Muslim nation. The Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship, signed in 1876, is the longest unbroken treaty in the U.S., and it was signed by Thomas Barclay, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and King Mohammed III. Muslims are, quite literally, the oldest friends of the United States.

Letter from George Washington to Mohammed III: "Great and magnanimous friend"

Letter from George Washington to Mohammed III: “Great and magnanimous friend”

Second, the human brain has a desire to simplify things. People want to believe that the Muslim world is a monolith standing against Christianity and Western civilization, but that is just not so. First, just as Christianity is fragmented into Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Mormons, and many others, Islam is split into Shi’a, Sunni, Sufi, Khawarij, Baha’i, and others. Much of the conflict with ISIS is between Salafism (a Sunni sect) and almost all other sects of Islam. The vast majority of ground troops fighting ISIS are Muslim, whether Sunni Kurds, the Free Syrian Army, and the Iraqi Ground Forces. Almost everyone leaving Syria is running because of ISIS: they are Muslims who hate ISIS more than any American.

Finally, many Americans fear Sharia. Well, guess what: So do many Muslims. One does not have to support Sharia to be a Muslim. It is not one of the Five Pillars of Islam. But even in most countries with Sharia, it is usually only applied to family law: things like marriage, divorce, and inheritance. It is only in a few countries, like Saudi Arabia, where it is also applied to the criminal justice system. Frankly, given the severity of criminal punishments under Sharia, I am surprised more Tea Party members haven’t embraced it.

Listen – especially to those who disagree with you. (I met with a Tea Party, knowing they would disagree with me on many issues.)

Read – especially from sources that challenge your ideals. (I read the blogs and websites of all of my opponents.)

Think – for yourself. Don’t let other people tell you what you should believe (Even me!). No one represents you unless you choose them to represent you.

Then Vote.


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Filed under Listening, Religion, Tea Party, Tennessee 3rd District

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