Trail of Bigotry Behind Sharron Angle’s Dearborn Smear
Republican Senatorial candidate Sharron Angle is fear-mongering in her incoherent way again. This time she’s hitting on Dearborn, Michigan, suggesting there is a “militant terrorist” situation in Dearborn as they are under Sharia law. This, of course, is patently ridiculous. Dearborn Michigan is a city outlying the larger city of Detroit and the hometown of Henry Ford, as well as headquarters of the Ford Motor Company. It’s also home to our current Miss America, who happens to be Lebanese. Dearborn has a large, thriving Muslim community. Shiver me timbers.
This all started when Angle was asked to clarify her statement that Muslims are trying to “take over the US”. In response, Angle said:
“We’re talking about a militant terrorist situation, which I believe it isn’t a widespread thing, but it is enough that we need to address, and we have been addressing it. My thoughts are these, first of all, Dearborn, Michigan, and Frankford, Texas are on American soil, and under constitutional law. Not Sharia law. And I don’t know how that happened in the United States,” she said. “It seems to me there is something fundamentally wrong with allowing a foreign system of law to even take hold in any municipality or government situation in our United States.””
Not only is Sharron inaccurate, but she’s fear-mongering deliberately out of utter ignorance. If these folks would be lucid, we could have rational discussion and debate over our immigration policies, which are studded with problems. But using this as a wedge issue to avoid talking about her plans for Nevada is not responsible nor is it likely to lead to any sort of meaningful solution.
Common Ground News reports:
“Dearborn is home to the largest concentration of Arabs outside the Middle East. Thirty percent of Dearborn’s residents are of Arab origin, as are half the kids in its public schools.….But Dearborn is unlike any city in the Arab world — because it is also American. Dearborn epitomizes these traits. The Arab population is Christian and Muslim, Sunni and Shia, pious and secular, and they live, work and eat side by side. Dearborn has a palpable sense of “live and let live,” and we were told this also applies to relations between Arabs and the non-Arab majority. Dearborn presents not a threat, but an un-seized opportunity to serve as America’s bridge to the Arab and Muslim worlds.”
It seems we must repeat things like the fact that many Arabs are Christians so that folks of Sharron Angle’s caliber might hear of it via some optimistic trickle down theory of facts. Arab Americans comprised 30% of Dearborn’s population in 2000. More Iraqi immigrants have arrived since 2003 (due to the war) and they tend to be Muslims while earlier immigrants tended to be Christian. This area of Michigan also has large Chaldean and Romanian communities that are often mistaken as Arabs and therefore subjected to the kind of Islamphobia stirred up by the careless rhetoric of desperate politicians like Angle.
In fact, the area has been inhabited for thousands of years by varying indigenous people, so the idea that Muslims area taking over a Christian area is obnoxious in its simple minded obtuseness. Another thing someone who is familiar with this area knows is that half an hour away from Dearborn is the second largest Jewish community in America, West Bloomfield and Bloomfield Hills, and these folks live together peacefully. Every year, Detroit hosts an Inner Faith ceremony, where religious leaders and believers of many different religions come together to honor their faith. When Detroit hosted the Superbowl, the “Nation of Ribbons” ceremony was directed by Middle Eastern dance and music groups from all over. It became the largest single cultural event connected to the NFL.
Perhaps Sharron needs to get out more.
Sharron is no doubt responding to news reports that Christian missionaries Negeen Mayel, David Wood and Paul Rezkalla, were arrested for inciting the crowd along with Dr. Nabeel Quresh for disorderly conduct while videotaping themselves preaching to Muslims during the Dearborn International Arab Festival in June of this year. Why they felt the need to go to an ethnic festival to preach their word is anyone’s guess, but it doesn’t reek of peaceful intentions. They were ultimately found not guilty of inciting the crowd though one was found guilty of failure to obey a police order. They are now contemplating suing the city.
If you google this, you will see that far right sites like the Free Republic and Glock Talk are up in arms about this because as you know, Christians are the persecuted minority in this country. Sadly, what they never find out because it is not reported in those sources is that it was a Christian volunteer who reported the missionaries for harassment, not a Muslim. Sigh. It seems Angle suffers from the same failure to properly educate herself before opening her mouth.
The Press and Guide reported:
“’The four, who are members or founders of a group called “Acts 17 Apologetics, were charged with breach of peace in July after police said they received a complaint from a Christian festival volunteer who said he was harassed by the group.”
The city says the missionaries were arrested because their behavior “drew and incited a large crowd to a point where they were in violation of city of Dearborn misdemeanor ordinances of breach of peace and failure to obey the lawful order of a police officer.”
The Thomas More Law Center (who describes themselves as the “answer to the ACLU and are currently engaged in Thomas More Law Center v. Barack Obama, et al., a federal lawsuit against the new health care law) defended the missionaries for free.
“The Thomas More Law Center’s purpose is to be the sword and shield for people of faith, providing legal representation without charge to defend and protect Christians and their religious beliefs in the public square….
Our ministry was inspired by the recognition that the issues of the culture war being waged across America–issues such as abortion, pornography, school prayer, and the removal of the Ten Commandments from municipal and school buildings–are not being decided by elected legislatures, but by the courts.
These court decisions, largely insulated from the democratic process, have been inordinately influenced by legal advocacy groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) which seek to systematically subvert the religious and moral foundations of our nation.”
TMLC is most widely known for its instigation, litigation and loss of the Dover, Pennsylvania intelligent design case, defending LtCol Jeffrey Chessani against misconduct allegations during the November 2005 Haditha killings, its strong anti-abortion position, and for its current federal lawsuit against the government regarding the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The Thomas More Law Center also intervened in the Terri Schiavo case in Florida in October 2003. Angle is aligning herself with extremists like this, who seek to subvert our laws in an attempt to impose their religious beliefs on a nation. Just who is trying to impose Sharia law here?
Apparently according to the Right wing outrage over this, only Muslims can be arrested and found later to be not guilty, but if it happens to Christians, things are heading toward a state of militant terrorism. One wonders if Angle saw these Christian missionaries if her tune would change, unless having brown skin is A-OK so long as you are Christian, in which case I would suggest she rethink her border philosophy for logic’s sake.
Arab American News reported that A. Khan, a lecturer at Wayne State University on Islamic and Muslim History and Political Islam and board member of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding said:
“Khan said that the Muslim community in America remains a target of politicians engaging in demagoguery in large part because of a 2007 survey from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life which stated that there were only about 2.5 million Muslims in America, a number some have questioned as being too small, instead of an older measurement of 6 to 8 million.
“They (essentially) said that there aren’t enough to count, after all they’re a statistical anomaly and can be written off,” Khan said. “It became an easy (target) for political and corporate ambition agendas.” Ahmad talked about how fear of Islam is propagated for political gain. “You look at Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Islam is the demon to them, before it was socialism or communism, there always has to be a demon to create a climate of fear.””
Like any large city, Dearborn isn’t perfect and it suffers from the same issues you find in large, mixed communities, but Angle really missed the boat here. Dearborn is an example of and possible conduit to positive relations between different religions. Leaders of any caliber should be focused on supporting our national security, not undermining it and inflaming tense relations. We have been warned by top US commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, that American Islamaphobia feeds terrorism and threatens our troops as well as our own security.
Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly called Angle’s comments “shameful.” “She took it as face value and maligned the city of Dearborn and I consider that totally irresponsible,” he said. “If she wants to come here, I will take her on a tour. I will show her we follow the Constitution just as well as anyone else.”
Angle suffers from the current Republican value of shoot first, ask questions later. She maligned an entire city and inflamed Islamaphobia based on information she apparently gleaned from a NewsMax equivalent. She would be an incredibly irresponsible leader, especially for a nation engaged in war. Enough with the politics of destruction, cheap shots at minorities and reckless shots fired randomly for political gain.
Sharron Angle, what are your ideas for Nevada and how would you govern differently than you are running?
Image: More than 20 religious leaders from various backgrounds and several different churches and mosques came together for an interfaith prayer session in support of tolerance and understanding on Sept. 11 at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn. PHOTOS: Nick Meyer/TAAN
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.