Texas state Rep. Molly White (R) apologized after asking Muslims in the state to “renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws” last month.
“Hindsight’s 20–20,” she told the Texas Tribune in a story published Monday. “I never thought it was going to go viral. And I thought it was just to folks that were in my district.”
White, a freshman tea party member of the state legislature, posted to her Facebook page on Jan. 29, “Texas Muslim Capital Day,” that while she wouldn’t be at the capitol that day because the legislature was in recess, she left an Israeli flag on her desk and left instructions with her staff to ask the Muslims demonstrating to denounce terrorism and pledge allegiance to American laws. The post remains on her page.
The post went viral, attracting national attention for her remarks. She initially defended her comments, telling a local Fox affiliate, “When people know me, they know my heart. … I always treat everybody with respect, and listen — but if we had some things that were diabolically different, then I need to let them know where I stand, and they let me know where they stand.”
She posted over the weekend on her Facebook page that she’d received an “overwhelming show of support” after her remarks were considered to be anti-Muslim and that she would be addressing those remarks on Monday.
In that interview with the Tribune, White said her remarks weren’t directed at all Muslims but rather at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a group that is classified as a terrorist organization by U.S.-ally Saudi Arabia but isn’t by the U.S. government. “When I hear CAIR, I get red flags,” she told the Tribune. Local CAIR chapters organized the event at the capitol.
White said she was specifically concerned about a remark from Houston CAIR executive director Mustafaa Carroll, who was quoted as saying, “If we’re practicing Muslims, we are above the law of the land.” However, as the Tribune clarified, that quote included further context that included Carroll saying, “Following the law of the land is part of Sharia. And we follow the law of the land.”
Carroll later clarified his remarks, saying, “It’s definitely not intended to mean we don’t have to follow the law.”
White said she wished she’d focused her remarks on CAIR, rather than all Muslims, but told the Tribune that if Muslim immigrants “have come here to America to follow the American dream and to pursue all the things that we all like about America, I don’t think they would be offended.”
White previously said that Muslims cannot be trusted, “no matter how peaceful they appear,” that Islam is “ not just a religion” but a way of life, and that when Muslims feel the prophet Muhammed is insulted, “they want death.”
U.S. Muslims face widespread discrimination. A June 2014 poll found that 45 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view toward Muslim-Americans and 42 percent have an unfavorable view of Arab-Americans, far surpassing unfavorably of other religious or ethnic groups. A similar amount of Americans approved of police using racial profiling against these groups.
Another study in 2013 found that just 2 percent of Muslim job candidates in Republican-leaning states received invitations to be interviewed.