They Walk Among Us

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September 19, 2010 1:37 p.m.

Newt Gingrich got a lot of deserved grief last week for his race-baiting rant about President Obama’s “anti-colonial Kenyan” world view. I’m sure he’ll get much less for his call this weekend for federal legislation banning the imposition of Sharia Law in the United States. As we’ve already seen, Gingrich has seized on Islamophobia as his ticket to power or perhaps just relevance in this latest round of hypomania. But it’s worth setting back for a moment and considering just how out of it and paranoid you have to be to believe or perhaps just how big of a charlatan you have to be to say that we’re close in anything but the geological timescale to seeing Sharia law imposed in this country.

Terrorism? Sure. The odds of any one of us being injured or killed in a terrorist attack is somewhere between exceedingly and infinitesimally low. But Americans have been killed in terrorist attacks in the US and it’s naive to think it won’t happen again. So orienting a whole worldview around the fear of terrorism might be unrealistic and cowardly. But it has a basis in reason. And the indiscriminate, barbaric violence of al Qaeda-style terrorism is frightening.

But the Sharia Law being imposed in the USA and non-Muslims becoming a second-class subject group (i.e., ‘dhimmis’)? Really? This makes ‘Red Dawn’, Mexican immigrants trying to detach the Southwest from the USA and re-unite it with Mexico and basically every other spasm of paranoia out of the fever swamp look by comparison like an exercise in judicious Realism.

It’s impossible to know what Gingrich believes. He’s mainly trying to whip up a hate wave he can ride back into some role in government. But lots of people in the hard core of the anti-Mosque and Tea Party movement do believe this. They think we don’t have much time left.

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