Republican Leaders Confront Extremist Talk


Republican Leaders Confront Extremist Talk | Robert Parham, Chris Christie, John McCain, Islamophobia, Debt Ceiling

The day after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's straight talk, Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain called the position of extremists over the debt ceiling "bizarro." (Photos: Bob Jagendorf, left; Dan Raustadt, right)
The anti-Sharia crowd is "crazy," according to New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who has been criticized for naming Sohail Mohammed, a Muslim attorney, to the state's superior court.

"Sharia law has nothing to do with this at all. It's crazy. It's crazy. The guy's an American citizen who has been an admitted lawyer to practice in the state of New Jersey, swearing an oath to uphold the laws of New Jersey, the constitution of the state of New Jersey, and the Constitution of the United States of America … This sharia law business is crap. It's just crazy," said Christie about Mohammed's critics.

He added, "And I'm tired of dealing with the crazies. It's just unnecessary to be accusing this guy of things just because of his religious background."

Christie's blustery comments stand in sharp contrast to batty comments made by Herman Cain, a Republican presidential aspirant and associate pastor at Atlanta's Antioch Baptist Church North.

Cain accused American Muslims of a gradual attempt to "ease Sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government."

As evidence of Muslims trying "to force" Sharia into American law, Cain cited the Oklahoma referendum on Sharia, which illustrates just the opposite of what he was contending.

The referendum was not initiated by Muslims to sneak Islamic law into America courts. It was pushed by the fabricators of fear who wanted to amend the state's constitution to forbid courts from using Sharia law.

Their initiative won in a November 2010 referendum by a whopping 70 percent of the Oklahoma vote.

That initiative encouraged other anti-Sharia efforts across the country in the spring of 2011. State legislatures in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, South Dakota, South Carolina and Wyoming considered anti-Islamic bills.

Conservative Christians were often behind these bills based on fabricated facts and false fears.

Cain later issued a quasi-apology to Muslims. Others continue to traffic in Islamophobia, feeding the paranoid prejudice that flows across the country.

Thank goodness a prominent Republican governor has spoken bluntly against religious-based bigotry.

The day after Christie's straight talk, Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain called the position of extremists over the debt ceiling "bizarro."

"Some members are believing that we can pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution in this body... And that is foolish. That's worse than foolish. That is deceiving many of our constituents," said McCain. "To hold out and say we won't agree to raising the debt limit to pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, it's unfair. It's bizarro."

Bizarro. Crazy. These are sharp words.

Would that more politicians, pundits and clergy challenged the rhetoric that is off the axis of the common good, morally wobbly, completely dishonest, mean-spirited and factually wrong.

Christie and McCain understand that extremist talk contaminates society.

The Apostle James recognized that unfiltered speech contaminates the church. He warned about harmful speech "staining the whole body" (James 3:6).

Maybe sometimes we need leaders who will shout out the stain.

Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics.

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Tags: Chris Christie, Debt Ceiling, Islamophobia, John McCain, Robert Parham