At a recent conservative conference, where he increasingly sounded like a 2012 presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich sternly warned Americans that Islamic Sharia Law is taking over American law and poses a lethal threat to this country. He called for seven battlefronts against worldwide Islam. The former Speaker of the House also viewed the building of an Islamic community center two blocks from Ground Zero in New York as a bit of Islamic “triumphalism.” In Florida, a fundamentalist Christian church is planning a “burn the Quran day”. Is this what Jesus would do? And how many votes from Americans of the Islamic faith does Mr. Gingrich plan on garnering in two years?
Meanwhile, down in Arizona, paranoia over the state of the United States border with Mexico continues. John Kyl, Lindsay Graham, and Mitch McConnel, all purported members of the United States Congress, but in statements calculated to further discredit that body, called for amending the 14th Amendment to the Constitution to prohibit anyone born in the United States of immigrant parents be denied automatic American citizenship.
These are mean-spirited policy suggestions that appeal to the worst in the American people. There is no threat of Sharia Law superseding the United States Constitution and the laws made pursuant thereto. An Islamic community center in New York, a distinctly international city with Americans from all corners of the globe, is hardly the place to display the xenophobic madness of conservatives. This nation has been changing over the past quarter century and the most conservative, white, Republican-leaning amongst us don’t like that. The world is crowding in on them. No little Tommy we cannot return to America as it was in the supposedly placid 1950’s. The world has moved on. This is no longer a lily-white America with people of color and of foreign origins relegated to second class citizenship status.
Our current economic troubles must not allow us to become hard-hearted nor to give into our fears and meanest instincts. Politically, conservatives and the Republican Party have been railing against Hispanic citizens and non-citizens alike. These people are by nature conservative, hard-working, and people of faith. But they won’t vote for Republicans until that party recognizes them as important and deserving of a place in the American polity. Over six in ten Latinos vote for Democrats because that party listens to their concerns and treats them with respect. If all Americans did that we might be able to move ahead and the poison atmosphere of an increasingly polarized America might fade. Its time for those on the political right to find the adults and get their house in order.