I’m an atheist but around religious people, I soften it to agnostic because for some reason they mind it less. I’m not sure why but, hey, I’m a tolerant person but one thing that I’m intolerant of is intolerance. That brings me to this week’s “honoree.” Ron Ramsey is running for Governor of Tennessee as a Republican. He’s the Lt. Gov and, apparently, his campaign was stuck in the mud. So, instead of spinning his wheels, he decided to take action and trot out a boogieman for the voters to beat on.Mr. Ramsey’s choice was Muslims:
Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, currentlyrunning third
in the state’s Republican gubernatorial primary race, says he’s not
sure if Constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion apply to the
followers of the world’ssecond-largest faith, Islam.
At a recent event in Hamilton County, Ramsey was asked by a man in
the audience about the “threat that’s invading our country from the
Muslims.” Ramsey proclaimed his support for the Constitution and the
whole “Congress shall make no law” thing when it comes to religion. But
he also said that Islam, arguably, is less a faith than it is a “cult.”
“Now, you could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a
religion, or is it a nationality, way of life, cult whatever you want
to call it,” Ramsey said. “Now certainly we do protect our religions,
but at the same time this is something we are going to have to face.”
The question, Ramsey mused, was related to thesimmering topic
of a new Muslim community center scheduled to be built in Murfreesboro,
Tennessee. Ramsey, like many conservatives weighing in on the debate,
mistakenly confused the center with a mosque — which Murfreesboro
already has — and then proceeded to foment fears that Sharia saw would
be practiced by Muslims there.
“Now, you know, I’m all about freedom of religion. I value the First
Amendment as much as I value the Second Amendment as much as I value
the Tenth Amendment and on and on and on,” he said. “But you cross the
line when they try to start bringing Sharia Law here to the state of
Tennessee — to the United States. We live under our Constitution and
they live under our Constitution.”
Sharia law in Tennessee? Horrors: run and hide and under the bed everyone. They’re coming to put a head scarf on the women and cut the hands off all the men. It’s, of course, okay for biblethumpers to pass laws effecting those of other faiths but Muslims? It’s time to exercise your Second Amendment rights and run those varmints outta the hills of Tennessee. I wonder if Ramsey has heard of the Scopes Monkey Trial?
Here’s the deal: I’m not down with any of the monotheistic faiths. If one believes that one’s Sky God is the only true Sky God, intolerance is one step away. Over the centuries many people of faith have tried their damnedest to reign in the nutjobs in their sects and work on respecting others. Christians may be the majority in Tennessee but they’re the minority in other places. Additionally, Christianity was considered a cult until it grew to the point that it had to be respected. There are a helluva lot of Muslims in the world so it’s hard to argue that they’re a cult. Hmm, I wonder if Malaka Ramsey likes the Washington Times? As a wingnut, I bet he does. It is, of course, owned by the Moonies who most people consider a cult. But cults should be tolerated as well. That’s how things work in a pluralistic democracy.
Ron Ramsey’s cynical use of religious bigotry is merely a symptom of a bigger problem. Anti-Muslim hate speechseems to have reached a fever pitch of late. In New York, there’s been an ongoing controversy about the possibility of a Muslim center being placed near Ground Zero. “Outside agitators” such as Newt Gingrich and that silly woman from Alaska whose name I never mention have gotten on their hind legs to bray against it. That episode seems to have reached its apogee withGOP Gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio demanding a debate with Democrat Andrew Cuomo on that topic and nothing else. Why? Like Ramsey, Lazio is heading towards defeat and he’s playing the hate card to see if he can stir things up. It’s a text book case of egregious malakatude.
I selected Ron Ramsey as malaka of the week but he’s essentially a stand-in for all the bigots who are stirring up hate of the Other. Me, I prefer to criticize individuals as opposed to demonizing whole groups.I wish some of these folks would substitute church or synagogue for the word mosque when they start painting with such a broad brush. Of course, the current ginned up controversies are about community centers that just happen to be run by Muslims so the bigot should substitute Presbyterian, Lutheran or Reform Judaism for the M word. I don’t think the JCC in New Orleans has any plans to bring Talmudic law to the Gret Stet, which means I won’t have to race out and buy a yarmulke. I doubt if I could find one that fit my size 8 head anyway…