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.
7 thoughts on “Oklahoma, Goddam! – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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The referendum was created for one purpose only: to increase Islamophobia, which is precisely why the creators didn’t extrapolate on the ramifications of it actually passing. To anyone with litigation experience, there is an immediate issue here of recognizing certificates granted by jurisdictions outside of Oklahoma that would grant similar circumstances or statuses within Oklahoma. Immediately, marriages come to mind. Based on this referendum and Richard’s correct analysis, laws granting marriage by religious authority would not be recognized in the State.
One other thing the pundits and politicians didn’t inform the American people about: in the American law system we are always offered public policy outs that allow our verdicts to align with core notions and cultural values of our society. For instance, even if under the facts and basic ethics, it turns out that a Saudi man is allowed to, under Sharia law, marry two wives, both of which are fully willing to be his cowives and have option to not be that (hypothetical here, stick with me), the polygamy will still not be recognized in America. We simply don’t want non’a’dat here and we’re calling that an American value until there’s some sort Polygamist civil rights movement or something. 🙂
the initiative was placed on the ballot as a wedge issue to bring conservative voters to the polls….just as gay marriage was used in prior elections
and im sorry richard, but the amendment has no hold over a beis din…i think you are misreading the amendment
The article specifically says that it endangers such religious law decisions within the state–or did you not read that part of the article? If you would read articles all the way through you wouldn’t say such dumb stuff & then make me have to point out yr sloppiness.
SQ 755 will go down in history as one of the most ill-informed referendums ever that deceived the people of Oklahoma into voting for an illegal constitutional amendment, singled out the Oklahoma Muslim community (less than 1% of the total State population I believe) for religious indignity, and tried to obligate Oklahoma courts to do what they, in good conscience, in good observation of professional ethics and as a matter of law, simply can not do.
The framers of the referendum were either particularly idiotic in this instance as well or just built a PR balloon that they would know would not get anywhere in court. You see, Article Six, Section I, Clause II, or the “Supremacy Clause” reads, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.” And any ancillary texts about the Clause will enlighten one to realize that the Constitution’s own intention is to accept international law into the American lexicon.
The entanglement of these laws with our laws is already so superfluous and prevalent that the un-meshing would be unethical and nearly impossible. The ramifications of these laws delve into matters of marriage, death, property transfer, business contracts, choice of law issues (do we use NJ law or Sharia law?), etc. And indeed, despite what many have been taught, Sharia is based on the same Judeo-Christian ideologies assumedly used to promulgate law in America. Yes, there, is good Sharia and bad Sharia and varying interpretations of it. There is a popular, mainstream brand that interprets the Qu’uran to forbid Muslim from imposing Sharia on others. More information here: http://www.ijtihad.org/Impose-Islam.htm
In fact, without this movement, this is how many Muslims feel about their religions anyway. In Iran, I can tell you the only one imposing anything on others are the oppressors, not the real clergymen who go to the Mosque to pray for the poor and work to good ends in life (they co-exist there, too).
Thank you for writing another very insightful article.
It amazes me just how gullible some people can be.
I posted on another article about this on going debate I am having at another forum.
I have been called an idiot, I have been called naive….
this one man even said that I was a disgrace to liberal woman for supporting Sharia law that allows women to be beaten and raped…
It is as if the WHOLE USA has gone CRAZY.
I personally like to have all of the info before I go demonizing an entire religion.
I may be atheist, But I defend other people rights to be able to practice their religion.
It is not my business to tell others how to deal with their divorce and their wills. Just as it is nobody’s business to tell me how to deal with mine.
I just want to thank you for confirming to me that not everybody is crazy enough to buy all of this Anti Muslim stuff.
Just a Gurl From Seattle, living in Sweden
You’re welcome. Islamophobia seems to be the new anti-Communism or racism replacing old sets of prejudices w. new ones. People are full of ignorance & fear & their brains seem to stop working in the face of this.
Isn’t this straightforward?
If something is a crime under Federal or State law then it is a crime irrespective of the law system the perp follows.
It is for the judiciary to ensure their judges comply, not State law. Thus any decision that isn’t compliant should be overturned by due process.
The 70% vote is a measure of lack of confidence in the Oklahoma judiciary just as much as anything else.