GOP Presidential candidate Herman Cain has revealed himself to be, for various reasons, the biggest bigot and buffoon in the race. He kicked up a firestorm with his recent comments on Fox News Sunday in support of the “right” to ban American mosques. Apparently, Cain thinks that freedom of religion means freedom to ban religions:
CAIN: They could say that. Chris, lets go back to the fundamental issue that the people are basically saying they’re objecting to. They’re objecting to the fact Islam is both a religion and a set of laws, Sharia law. That’s the difference between any one of our other traditional religions where it’s just about religious purposes. The people in the community know best, and I happen to side with the people in Murfreesboro.
WALLACE: You’re saying any community, if they want to ban a mosque?
CAIN: Yes. They have a right to do that. That’s not discriminating based upon religion.
Discriminating against Muslims is not discrimination because they’re Muslims! Kind of like the argument we hear from racists that discrimination against black people is not discrimination because black people are more likely to be criminals.
Many religious leaders took Cain to task for his comments, but not everyone. In fact, more than enough far right wingers are gleefully embracing his call to deny American Muslims their fundamental American rights.
Bryan Fischer is a Christian fundamentalist who is one of the loudest voices of intolerance on the right wing. For example, he has argued that Muslims should not serve in the military, law-abiding Muslim immigrants should be “sent back home,” and all American mosques should be banned:
Permits, in my judgment, should not be granted to build even one more mosque in the United States of America. This is for one simple reason: each Islamic mosque is dedicated to the overthrow of the American government.
Did you get that? Each Islamic mosque is “dedicated” not to the pillars of Islam (faith, prayer, charity, and fasting) but to the “overthrow of the American government.” As if all the Muslims of every denomination (Sunni, Shi’ite, Sufi, liberal, conservative, etc.) are acting with one will, one goal, like the Borg (resistance is futile, you will be assimilated). He must have read that somewhere in the Protocols of the Elders of Mecca.
Anyway, it is this last point that has Bryan Fischer super excited: he is no longer alone in his Bigotry now that a big shot GOP candidate has legitimated his effort to ban all mosques. On what grounds can they so brazenly defy the First Amendment? The bogus talking point about Islam being a political ideology, not a religion:
In point of fact, in Islam the church IS the state. And since Islam allows no room for freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of conscience and equal rights for women, it’s view of culture is so bizarrely un-American as to be dangerous and destructive to civilized society in all its forms.
This is quite ironic coming from a man whose goal in life is to impose his backward religious opinions on an unwilling society. Don’t mind our homegrown Christian fundamentalists who reject separation of church and state. They don’t count.
In reality, the Gallup polls of the Muslim world reveal the exact opposite of Fischer and Cain’s claims:
•Large majorities cite the equal importance of democracy and Islam to the quality of life and progress of the Muslim world. They see no contradiction between democratic values and religious principles.
•Political freedoms are among the things they admire most about the West.
•Substantial majorities in nearly all nations say that if drafting a new constitution, they would guarantee freedom of speech.
•Most want neither theocracy nor secular democracy but a third model in which religious principles and democratic values coexist. They want their own democratic model that draws on Islamic law as a source.
•Significant majorities say religious leaders should play no direct role in drafting a constitution, writing legislation, determining foreign policy, or deciding how women dress in public.
Another poll reports that less than 1% of Egyptians want the radical fusion of religion and state like Iran:
Egyptians… express little interest in recreating their country in the image of Iran, as has been the fear among some Western commentators. Less than 1% say the Islamic Republic should be Egypt’s political model, and most Egyptians think religious leaders should provide advice to government authorities, as opposed to having full authority for determining the nation’s laws. The majority of residents in the Arab world’s most populous nation desire a democracy informed by religious values, not a theocracy.
The numbers concerning Muslim attitudes toward women are equally destructive to Fischer’s arguments:
•Majorities in most countries believe that women should have the same legal rights as men: They should have the right to vote, to hold any job outside the home that they qualify for, and to hold leadership positions at the cabinet and national council levels
•Majorities of men in virtually every country (including 62 percent in Saudi Arabia, 73 percent in Iran, and 81 percent in Indonesia) agree that women should be able to work at any job they qualify for.
•In Saudi Arabia, where women cannot vote, 58 percent of men say women should be able to vote.
•While Muslim women favor gender parity, they do not endorse wholesale adoption of Western values.
So, while scientific polling of the Muslim world (not to mention American Muslims) reveals broad support for democratic principles, a rejection of theocracy, and support for women’s rights, that won’t stop the far right from parroting the thoroughly debunked but politically potent talking point that Islam is somehow uniquely anti-democratic, oppressive to women, and dangerous.
Bryan Fischer is the face of the grassroots prejudice to which Herman Cain is appealing and which will not likely be criticized by the rest of the GOP candidates. American right-wing politics has sunk to a new low. No longer is shredding the First Amendment considered fringe, crazy talk.
Fischer is not a lone anti-freedom bigot anymore. The GOP is right there with him.