During the 1960s, the State of Mississippi had race relations so strained, so violent, so primitive that it often appeared the place was a holdover from an earlier era of human brutality perhaps before civilization took hold. There were ambush killings, church bombings, rapes, lynchings, snarling police dogs, poll taxes, Jim Crow laws, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, all designed to enforce a regime of white supremacy so strident, that it might’ve even made a few southerners blanche (not that states like Alabama weren’t far beyond). This notion of Mississippi inspired Nina Simone’s angry, bitter and seminal, Mississippi, God-Damn. To this day, I don’t think the state has fully lived down this legacy, at least not in the minds of outsiders.
Apparently wishing to repeat this sordid history, Oklahoma has put forward its own name for latest state to be bathed in the muck of racism, hate and ignorance. In this case, Oklahoma’s special enemy isn’t blacks, but Muslims. There’s no indication there are huge ‘glut’ of Muslims in Oklahoma, let alone that they’ve brought any sort of Muslim contagion with them that might engulf the state. But the Knights of the Anti-Jihad aren’t taking any chances. They want to be prepared when the “cancer” finally comes to them:
[Corey] Williams was one of 10 Democrats who voted against putting a state constitutional amendment on the ballot that would forbid state judges from considering international or Islamic law in deciding cases…His Republican challenger sent out mailers showing him next to a shadowy figure in an Arab headdress. On the other side, the flier said Mr. Williams wanted to allow “Islamic ‘Shariah’ law to be used by Oklahoma courts” and suggested that he was part of “an international movement, supported by militant Muslims and liberals,” to establish Islamic law throughout the world.
…The amendment passed with 70 percent of the vote and helped drive record turnout in Republican strongholds. For the first time in the state, Republicans will now control the governor’s office and have veto-proof majorities in both houses of the Legislature…Voters overwhelmingly approved measures making English the state’s official language and requiring picture identification at the polls. Democrats maintain that both measures make it harder for Hispanic immigrants to vote or go to school.
…Supporters of the [anti-Sharia] amendment acknowledge that there is no evidence Islamic law had ever been brought up as a defense in the state courts….“This is a pre-emptive strike,” said the bill’s main author, State Representative Rex Duncan, a Republican from Sand Springs.
Before the vote, Mr. Duncan described…Shariah tribunals in England as “a cancer” and predicted that Muslims would come to America to take away “liberties and freedom from our children.” In an interview on MSNBC, he said: “This is a war for the survival of America. It’s a cultural war.” (In 2007, Mr. Duncan rejected a gift of a Koran from a council Mr. Henry created, saying, “Most Oklahomans do not endorse the idea of killing innocent women and children in the name of ideology.”)
I don’t mind that much if Neanderthals like Duncan are honest and straightforward about their hatreds. But most of these lunatics attempt to persuade themselves and their constituents that they’re not racists, oh no not them, Heaven forbid. So when CAIR won an injunction to stop enforcement of the amendment under state law, its sponsor was in high dudgeon about the offense such an injunction offered the good people of Oklahoma:
Mr. Duncan said the restraining order “thwarts the will of the people.” He said the amendment was never intended as an attack on Muslims, but as an effort to prevent what he called “activist judges” from using Islamic law in deciding cases.
Well, of course it wasn’t an attack on Muslims. They were just the handiest nearby whipping boy when they devised this cuckoo strategy to win a lock on state politics. In that sense, Muslims were interchangeable with any number of historic bugaboos exploited throughout American history to maintain power: Know Nothings, anti-immigrant parties, anti-Papists, Ku Klux Klan.
What this moron doesn’t realize though is that his amendment will outlaw not just application of Sharia to state law, but the use of Jewish or Roman Catholic canon law in adjudicating legal decisions. That may mean that, for example, an Orthodox Jew may not be allowed to have a religious marriage or divorce. Didn’t think of that, did ya dunderhead?
If Oklahoma doesn’t watch out, there will those of us lobbying for a constitutional amendment to outlaw the wonderful Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, Oklahoma, as being far too good for what Oklahoma really deserves. Instead, we’ll lobby that its new state song become: Mississippi, God-Damn. We’ll rename it, Oklahoma, God-Damn.