In anticipation of his big Dolchstoss speech tomorrow at the American Enterprise Institute — in which he will apparently make his case for a right-wing Christian foreign policy through references to the writings of a famous leftist and a famous atheist — Newt Gingrich has an item in Human Events indicating that the speech will also come with a huge helping of crude, irresponsible Muslim-bashing.
Newt’s basic argument is that Americans are so good and religiously tolerant that we just fail to see the imminent threat that “creeping sharia” — i.e. observant Muslims — represents to the American way of life. To illustrate this threat, Gingrich draws a few anecdotes from Andrew McCarthy’s recent book, The Grand Jihad. This alone should probably be enough to discredit Gingrich’s argument. But let’s take a look anyway at the “examples” Gingrich offers of how “the American government and major public institutions have been unwilling to assert the protections of American law and American values over sharia’s religious code.”
GINGRICH: In June 2009, a New Jersey state judge rejected an allegation that a Muslim man who punished his wife with pain for hours and then raped her repeatedly was guilty of criminal sexual assault, citing his religious beliefs as proof that he did not believe he was acting in a criminal matter. “This court believes that he was operating under his belief that it is, as the husband, his desire to have sex when and whether he wanted to, was something that was consistent with his practices and it was something that was not prohibited.“
Leaving aside the fact that husbands abusing and raping their wives is by no means a practice unique to any one religion, this was a pretty horrible decision by the court. Interestingly, an appellate court thought that too, and reversed the decision, something Gingrich notes. How this demonstrates the unwillingness of the American government and major public institutions to assert the protections of American law and American values over sharia’s religious code is unclear.
GINGRICH: In May 2008, a disabled student at a public college being assisted by a dog was threatened by Muslim members of the student body, who were reluctant to touch the animal by the prescription of sharia. The school, St. Cloud State, chose not to engage the Muslim community, but simply gave the student credit without actually fulfilling the class hours so as to avoid conflict.
Yes, school administrators responded in what appears to be an irresponsible fashion, taking the path of least resistance in order to “avoid conflict.” As those who’ve interacted with college administrations before know, this is something that only ever happens when Muslims are involved.
For some reason, however, Gingrich doesn’t mention that the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) came out in support of the student: “The moral and legal need to accommodate individuals using service dogs far outweighs the discomfort an individual Muslim might feel about coming into contact with a dog, which is one of God’s creatures,” said CAIR-MN Communications Director Valerie Shirley.”
Maybe Newt would interpret this as just more evidence of how stealthy those jihadists are. Because that’s how conspiracy theories work.
GINGRICH: In a similar instance in November 2000, a high school senior in Owatonna, Minn., was suspended in order to protect him from the threat of violence by radical Islamists when he wrote an essay about the special privileges afforded his Somali Muslim counterparts in the school environment.
A Minneapolis Star-Tribune article on the incident reported that Owatonna High School Principal Don Johnson “said the problems began when two white students wrote papers in recent weeks that were ‘inflammatory and very disrespectful.’ One student handed out copies of his paper to friends, while the other posted his on a class blog. Both were suspended from the school of 1,600 students — about 100 of whom are Somali.”
Another article in the Owatonna People’s Press describes the atmosphere of harassment faced by the school district’s Somali minority — unfortunate, but not unlike the tensions that new immigrants have faced throughout America’s history.
None of this, however, justifies the threat of violence by radical Islamists. But wait, according to the Owatonna People’s Press:
“No threats were made,” [Owatonna High School] Vice Principal Julie Sullivan said Wednesday about the Nov. 6th incident. Sullivan did say that she was approached that day by several Somali students who were upset about what the boy had written on the class blog.
As for the idea that these nonexistent threats came from “radical Islamists,” as best I can tell that’s something that McCarthy simply made up, and Gingrich credulously repeated. Needless to say, all of this doesn’t come close to demonstrating the threat of “creeping sharia” that Gingrich is peddling.
Gingrich obviously wants to be president very badly. But he really needs to think hard about the sort of rhetorical tactics he’s embracing, and the sort of sentiments he’s cultivating, and the sort of company he’s joining in order to achieve that.
Adam Serwer follows up with yet another bit of Gingrich’s evidence of “creeping sharia” that doesn’t withstand scrutiny:
GINGRICH: Last month, police in Dearborn, Mich., which has a large Muslim population, arrested Christian missionaries for handing out copies of the Gospel of St. John on charges of “disturbing the peace.” They were doing so on a public street outside an Arab festival in a way that is completely permissible by law, but, of course, forbidden by sharia’s rules on proselytizing. This is a clear case of freedom of speech and the exercise of religious freedom being sacrificed in deference to sharia’s intolerance against the preaching of religions other than Islam.
But, as Serwer notes, it wasn’t Muslims who called the police:
Police said they received a complaint from a Christian volunteer working at the festival June 18 who said members of Acts 17 Apologetics were harassing patrons and a large crowd was gathering
The group’s actions, police said, were a public safety issue because they caused a large number of people to gather in a small space. Police said members of the group were arrested for failing to obey commands of the police.
This is a clear case of Gingrich failing to verify the ravings of Muslim-bashers before cutting and pasting them into his own articles. We should watch and see if Gingrich still tries to peddle these stories as “evidence” in his big AEI speech tomorrow.