Roger Cohen gets it right on Shariah fears

 Roger Cohen has a disturbing  column in today’s New York Times on the artfully manipulated fear of an Islamic takeover of the United States through insidious, creeping Shariah law.

To get at the emotions behind the surging dread of an illusory Islamic takeover, Cohen went to the Bible Belt town of Perry, Olka. – a town with no Muslims in a state “where 70.8 percent of the electorate last month approved a ‘Save Our State Amendment’ banning Islamic, or Shariah, law.”

What he found: Shariah has become “the new hot-button wedge issue, as radicalizing as abortion or gay marriage, seized on by Republicans to mobilize conservative Americans against the supposed ‘stealth jihad’ of Muslims in the United States and against a Democratic president portrayed as oblivious to — or complicit with — the threat.”

That strikes me as right on.

I don’t like the idea of living under Sharia law – but I don’t see any indication such a takeover is even a remote possibility in America.

Instead, what I see is a cynical, systematic effort to focus public rage on a small, unpopular religious minority.

Does that ring any bells? Isn’t that functionally the same as the scapegoating used by old-fashioned anti-Semites in this country and around the world, with their absurd claims rabbis are trying to impose Jewish law on hapless, helpless Christian populations?

As one friend noted, it’s “Shariah law today, Halachah tomorrow.”

I see deliberately exaggerated and distorted claims of Muslims seeking the same kinds of religious accommodations for minority religious practices that have been a focus of Jewish groups for years used to fan fears that the Constitution is being attacked by Islamic fanatics.

I see some Jews who think its vital to protect the rights of their co-religionists to wear kippot and to pass laws requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations so employees can fulfill their religious obligations arguing that when Muslims do the same thing, it’s part of a worldwide conspiracy.

I see bloggers, commentators and columnists taking Koran verses out of context and using them to show how all of Islam is dedicated to world domination, in exactly the same way anti-Semites inaccurately and cynically quote the Talmud to “prove” similar Jewish conspiracies.

Read Cohen’s column; as I said, scary stuff.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.